Archive for March, 2011

Save the Children

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Salina B. Lazarus, Tonya Lewis Lee and Pastor Daren Jaime at Syracuse University

Salina B. Lazarus, Tonya Lewis Lee and Pastor Daren Jaime at Syracuse UniversityProducer, attorney and author Tonya Lewis Lee says she was surprised to learn several years ago that infant mortality rates among African American women were twice that of whites and Latinos here in the United States.  She also found out that even among educated African American women, and those with access to healthcare, the infant mortality rates were disproportionately high.

“Clearly this is not a poverty issue,” she says.

Lewis Lee, the national spokesperson for the Healthy Baby Begins with You Campaign, was in town today at Syracuse University to present the 36-minute documentary she produced titled: Crisis in the Crib: Saving Our Nation’s Babies.

Despite the alarming statistics, Lewis Lee says she is optimistic that with increased education, further advances in genetics, as well as a collective effort from government, the medical community and the private sector working together, things can improve.

“There’s no overnight fix,” she says.

Lewis Lee talked earlier this year to NIFTN’s George Kilpatrick about her book Giant Steps to the Change the World.  She said her next project will be to co-produce a film adaptation of the Christopher Paul Curtis book The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 along with actor, comedian Chris Rock.


Monday, March 14th, 2011

We watched the Jason Hehir documentary about Michigan’s Fab Five last night and noticed the narration was done by SU grad and actor Taye Diggs.

Wise Women

Thursday, March 10th, 2011
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and Lucky Napkin co-founder Amilya Antonellia speak at SUNY Morrisville for the Women Ventured-Women Gained Discussion

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher (left) and Lucky Napkin co-founder Amilya Antonetti spoke at SUNY Morrisville during the Women Ventured-Women Gained Discussion last week.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher gave tips to students at SUNY Morrisville earlier this month for the Women Ventured Women Gained program. She told them: 1) You need a vision; 2) Make no small plans; 3) Ideas without action are meaningless; 3) Hold yourself accountable and 4) Find someone to articulate for your vision.

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Sheila C. Johnson spoke at SUNY Morrisville

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Sheila C. Johnson

Entrepreneur Sheila C. Johnson also participated in the panel discussion. She started her career as a teacher before co-founding BET.  Johnson now heads a hospitality company that operates resorts. She is also part owner of three Washington, DC-area professional sports teams and says her media division will soon re-brand AOL Black Voices.

Johnson told SUNY Morrisville students to use creativity to communicate their vision to the world.

Award-winning entrepreneur and green business pioneer Amilya Antonetti,founder of  Antonetti Soapworks and co-founder of the Lucky Napkin, gave these tips: 1) True passion is hard to describe; 2) You can’t succeed by yourself; 3) Trust your choices; and 3) Believe you are invincible.

The Book of August

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

When it comes to an accurate portrait of African American life, site August Wilson’s cycle of plays examining the 20th century is a gift that keeps on giving.

This month Syracuse Stage produced Wilson’s Radio Golf.

Radio, set in 1990s Pittsburgh, revolves around Harmond Wilks (played by Richard Brooks) as he attempts to redevelop a blighted Pittsburgh neighborhood and parlay that venture into a run for mayor.  At the climax of the play the audience is left with a sense that change is coming, but not without a struggle, or a fight.

A “Talk Back” forum was held by the stage and the actors talked about the genius of Wilson and how his work always fosters further examination.

Leland Gantt (Radio’s Sterling) said that the actors were on a journey to excavate the truth in Wilson’s work (the last he produced before he passed in 2005).

During a celebration of August Wilson’s work at Syracuse University in 2006, Dramaturg Kyle Bass, said it best: “Wilson gave us back to us.”

Thomas Jefferson Byrd (Radio’s Elder Joseph Barlow), who appeared in Wilson’s  Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at Syracuse Stage in 2009, described interpreting Wilson’s work on stage like eavesdropping on a conversation or peering thru a peephole at a family discussion. He said Wilson was able to avoid stereotypes by being true to the characters. “You know the truth when you hear it,” he said.


Monday, March 7th, 2011
Syracuse JazzFest Founder and Impersario Frank Malfitano presents Uncle Lionel Batiste with a Jazz Legends Award at OCC on Friday.

Syracuse JazzFest Founder Frank Malfitano presents Lionel Batiste with a Jazz Legends Award at OCC on Friday.

Uncle” Lionel Batiste, Benny Jones, Sr. and the Treme Brass Band brought the sweet sounds of New Orleans and the energy of a street parade to Friday’s performance at Onondaga Community College.