Getting to Know Photographer Devin Allen

The Baltimore Sun has an interview with 27 year-old Baltimore photographer Devin Allen. One of the pictures Devin took during the Baltimore unrest covered Time Magazine’s May 11, 2015 issue.

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In the interview he talks about how photography saved his life twice.

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Devin Allen says that photography saved his life — two nights in a row.

Allen is the rookie photographer whose visceral and poignant images of the Freddie Gray uprising landed him on the cover of Time magazine.

But in 2013, he wasn’t famous yet. He’d just recently picked up a camera for the first time and was in the grips of a new passion.

Instead of hanging out with his best friends as he would on a normal Friday, Allen says, he was in his kitchen at 8 p.m on Feb. 1, 2013, editing photographs. As a result, he wasn’t in the 100 block of N. Bentalou St. when Derrick Lee was shot and killed while sitting on his front steps.

The following night, Allen went to a photography assignment in Station North instead of to a party with his lifelong friend Christopher Samuels. Samuels took a fatal bullet to the back of his head at 1 a.m. Feb. 3 near Wheeler Avenue and Baltimore Street.

“I was devastated,” Allen says. “I trusted those guys with my life, and I think about them every day.”

As a close friend to both men, he had a concern that he might be next.

“The sad thing is that I wasn’t even scared,” he says. “I’m 27 years old, and I’ve buried at least 20 friends. I’m used to death. I’ve gotten to the point that I stopped going to funerals. I don’t even cry.”

He also talks about his upcoming solo show at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.

An exhibit of 17 of his works — Allen’s first solo show — opens Friday at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.

Paul Moakley, Time’s deputy director of photography, described Allen’s photo of a man running down the street in front of a line of baton-wielding Baltimore police officers as one of the powerful Time covers he’s worked on.

“That was the moment when the situation went from being a peaceful protest to riots breaking out,” he says, “and Devin captured it perfectly.”

But the Time cover isn’t Allen’s favorite photo from the unrest. It might be his close-up shot of an African-American police officer whose eyes are brimming with tears. Or possibly, it’s the touching portrait of a black protester coming to the aid of a white marcher who has just been maced.

“I want to unite people,” Allen says. “I try not to be close-minded but to understand every side of the story. My goal is to create a conversation with each image.”

According to the Baltimore Sun if you plan on attending his solo show which starts this Friday July 10:

“Devin Allen: Awakenings, In a New Light” runs Friday through Dec. 7 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, 830 E. Pratt St. Free. Call 443-263-1800 or go to lewismuseum.org.

Allen will participate in a public conversation about the uprising at 1 p.m. Saturday with activists Kwame Rose and Malacka Reed. Regular museum admission of $6-$8 applies.

Check out the entire interview at the Baltimore Sun and you can also check out Devin’s work on Instagram.

Jussie Smollett interview at Essence Fest

Check out Jussie Smollett’s interview at Essence Fest 2015.

Flashlight by Parliament

Listening to SiriusXM The Groove earlier today I heard a long time favorite.  Flashlight by Parliament.  Flashlight is from the cd Funkentelechy vs the Placebo Syndrome.

Parliament

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July.  Hope everyone has a safe and happy one.

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Empire Season 1 dvd and blu-ray arrives on September 15

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced that Season 1 of the hit tv series Empire will finally be released on dvd and blu-ray on September 15.  That’s one week before season 2 premieres.

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DVD Special Features:

No Apologies – Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) Uncut Musical Performance
I Wanna Love You -Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) Uncut Music Performance
Keep it Movin – Byshere Y. Gray (Hakeem Lyon) and Serayah McNeill (Tiana) Uncut Music Performance
Whatever Makes You Happy – feat. Jennifer Hudson & Juicy J Uncut Music Performance
You’re So Beautiful – Estelle, Terrence Howard (Lucious Lyon), Taraji P. Henson (Cookie Lyon), Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon), Byshere Y. Gray (Hakeem Lyon) feat. Serayah McNeill (Tiana) Uncut Music Performance

Blu-ray Special Features: (11 Uncut Music Performances)

No Apologies – Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) Uncut Music Performance
I Wanna Love You -Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) Uncut Music Performance
Come Away With Me – Video Medley – Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon)
Whatever Makes You Happy – (feat. Jennifer Hudson & Juicy J) Uncut Music Performance
Keep it Movin – Byshere Y. Gray (Hakeem Lyon) and Serayah McNeill (Tiana) Uncut Music Performance
Tell the Truth – Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) Uncut Music Performance
Nothing to Lose – Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) Uncut Music Performance
Power of The Empire Video Medley – Byshere Y. Gray (Hakeem Lyon)
For My God – Jennifer Hudson (Michelle) Uncut Music Performance
Good Enough – Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) Uncut Music Performance
You’re So Beautiful – Estelle, Terrence Howard (Lucious Lyon), Taraji P. Henson (Cookie Lyon), Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon), Byshere Y. Gray (Hakeem Lyon) feat. Serayah McNeill (Tiana) Uncut Music Performance
You’re So Beautiful – Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) Uncut Music Performance
Drip Drop (DIRTY i-Tunes) – Byshere Y. Gray (Hakeem Lyon) feat. Serayah McNeill (Tiana) Uncut Music Performance
What is Love Video Medley – feat. Veronika Bozeman
Featurette: Empire: It’s in the Music
Featurette: The Empire of Style
Special Feature: Commentary on the “Pilot”

It’s about time they announced a release date but that’s a long wait.  I was hoping they would release the blu-ray/dvd during the summer.

You can pre-order Empire at Amazon.com.

The Serena Williams vs Heather Watson thriller

I watched an amazing tennis match today between Serena Williams and Heather Watson.  It was number 1 vs number 59.

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I was on pins and needles watching that match.  Great Britain’s Heather Watson had Serena’s number for a while and that made me very nervous.  At times I was wondering what is going on with Serena.  Does she want to win this?  In the third set Serena came back and won 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

This match nearly gave me a heart attack but it was definitely a thriller.  There were times when I was tempted to change the channel but I refused to touch the remote control, lol.

British number one Heather Watson gave top seed Serena Williams a huge scare before losing a thrilling third-round match at Wimbledon.

The 23-year-old battled back from a set down, winning six straight games from 3-3 in the second set.

Watson served for the match at 5-4 in the decider but five-time Wimbledon champion Williams recovered to win 6-2 4-6 7-5 in two hours and 15 minutes.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will play her elder sister Venus next.

Serena will face her big sister Venus on Monday.

Congrats to Serena!!

Who is Dustin Brown?

I love watching tennis.  So while at work I saw on Twitter that one of my favorite tennis players Rafael Nadal lost to some guy named Dustin Brown at Wimbledon.  I’m like who?  Never heard of him.  Talk about an upset.  The Tennis Channel will be showing the match tonight.  I hope I can stay up to watch.

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Rafa hasn’t been doing too well lately. Ranked 102nd in the world, Dustin defeated Rafa 7-5 3-6 6-4 6-4 to reach the third round.

Rafael Nadal was knocked out of Wimbledon in the first week for the third time in four years, bamboozled by the wild but often brilliant game of the qualifier Dustin Brown, a man who spent three years living in a camper van as he travelled Europe trying to earn a living. The German hit numerous drop shots, some unbelievable returns and generally kept the 10th seed off balance and out of kilter, clinching a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

dustin_rafaelThe 30-year-old Jamaican/German was born in Germany.

Born in Germany but raised in Jamaica before switching his nationality back to that of his native land in 2010, the dreadlocked, athletic Brown has the kind of unorthodox game that can infuriate many a better player, causing them to lose rhythm.

Congrats to Dustin!!

Next up is Viktor Troicki of Serbia on Saturday.

Throwback Thursday- Michael Jackson

Most of us remember Michael Jackson’s Thriller cd/album.

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It was released on November 30, 1982,  Just about every song on that cd was released as a single except for one.  That song is Lady In My Life which is my favorite song on the Thriller cd.  I love this song.  Most people say that Billie Jean, Beat It, Thriller or Human Nature is their favorite.  I guess I’m the odd one.

I never understood why this song wasn’t released as a single.  It’s a beautiful song.  Thankfully the radio station I was listening to at that time did play the song.  I loved the fact that Michael was singing a soulful ballad.

Meet Karen Cooper- Another black defender of the Confederate flag

Last week I blogged about a young black male named Byron Thomas who spoke about his love for the Confederate flag. Well today I read about another black Confederate flag lover. Her name is Karen Cooper.

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The Washington Post has an article about Karen Cooper and her love for the Confederate flag.  Where does the Washington Post find these people?

Karen Cooper was born in New York but now lives in Virginia. She’s also a former Nation of Islam member. Karen is a Tea Party supporter who’s a member of a group called the Virginia Flaggers.

For many Americans, the Confederate battle flag is an unmistakable symbol of slavery and oppression.

But for Karen Cooper, a black woman who was born in New York but later settled in Virginia, the flag embodies something else entirely.

“I actually think that it represents freedom,” the ardent tea party supporter says in a video interview that’s been making the rounds online. “It represents a people who stood up to tyranny.”

Cooper is a member of the Virginia Flaggers, an activist group that rejects the idea that the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism and hate.

The group was formed in response to a decision to remove Confederate flags from public view in several locations, including a Confederate memorial chapel on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and city light poles in Lexington, The Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga reported last year.

Like the rest of the Flaggers’ 40 or so members, Cooper feels pride and reverence each time she displays the flag in public.

If the flag was a racist symbol, Cooper argues in the video, she wouldn’t be an accepted member of a group composed primarily of white Southerners.

I had to watch the video several times cause I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I gave girlfriend the side eye when she said this:

Besides, she adds, slavery is “a choice.”

“I say that because of what Patrick Henry said: ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’ To me, if we had went back to that kind of slavery, no I couldn’t do it. Give me death.”

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Since when was slavery a choice? Has Karen Cooper read any black history books lately? And how does one go from NOI to a Confederate flag waving Virginia Flagger?

In one week we’ve gone from the courageous Bree Newsome:

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To the Confederate flag waving Karen Cooper:

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It would be interesting if Bree and Karen met to discuss the Confederate flag. Bree would be like this:

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Also mentioned in the article is a video that Karen is featured in called Battle Flag.  It’s a documentary about the place and meaning of the Confederate Battle Flag 150 years after the Civil War.  I must really be out of the loop. Since when did Kanye West start wearing a Confederate flag?

Karen isn’t the only person mentioned in the Washington Post article. African American Alabama native Courtney Daniels wrote a column in AL.com defending the Confederate flag.  You can read his column here.

 

Misty Copeland makes history

Ballerina Misty Copeland was promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre today.  She became the first African American female dancer to receive this honor.

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Misty Copeland, the ballerina who vaulted the ballet world to become a symbol of diversity in her art form, has been promoted to principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, making her the first female African-American dancer to reach that high status in the 75-year history of the storied company.

She was one of a number of dancer announcements ABT made Tuesday, but Copeland’s achievement garnered the most attention.

Misty joined the ABT in 2001 and became a sololist in 2007. She appeared on the cover of Time Magazine as one of the most influential people of 2015.

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In 2014 Misty wrote a best selling memoir Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. She’s appeared in a Diet Dr. Pepper commercial and an Under Armour ad.

Even as her promotion was celebrated by her many fans, it raised all-too-familiar questions about why African-American dancers, particularly women, remain so underrepresented at top ballet companies in the 21st century, despite the work of pioneering black dancers who broke racial barriers in the past. And it showed how media and communications have changed in dance, with Ms. Copeland deftly using modern tools — an online ad she made for Under Armour has been viewed more than 8 million times — to spread her fame far beyond traditional dance circles, drawing new audiences to ballet.

“I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference at the Metropolitan Opera House on Tuesday afternoon. “At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.”

The past year has been a busy one for Misty. She danced in leading roles with the ABT and she starred in Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House. She was the first African American dancer to do this.

You can read it all at the New York Times.  Check out For Black Principal Dancers, A Rarefied Air at the New York Times.

Congratulations to Misty!!

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