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The Nicholas Brothers: Tap Dancers Extraordinaire

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, who performed as the Nicholas Brothers throughout most of the 20th century, were two of the greatest tap dancers in history. Their college-educated parents were both also accomplished musicians who performed during the famed Harlem Renaissance. Fayard and his younger brother Harold had no formal musical or dance training but taught themselves by watching and learning from the other greats of the time, including Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.  The brothers’ combination of dance and acrobatics was unparalleled.

I never tire of seeing this video of the Nicholas Brothers performing with Cab Calloway in the movie “Stormy Weather”. This dance sequence, performed in one take, is considered the greatest dance scene ever performed and filmed, period.

 

 
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The Forgotten “Insufficient Funds” Statements of the MLK “Dream Speech”

1963MarchOnWashingtonPicToday, the 3rd Monday of January, is a Federal holiday to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Civil Rights Leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There is much to celebrate, much to remember about this historic figure, although during his lifetime, he was hated and vilified by many, and surreptitiously tracked by Herbert Hoover and the FBI.

In the decades since Dr. King’s assassination, many have attempted to “whitewash” (pun definitely intended) the words spoken in his most famous speech, now known as the “I Have A Dream” speech.

However, most people forget that Dr. King gave this historic speech at the 1963 March on Washington (after first giving the first version of that speech at the June 1963 March in Detroit Michigan); that march, which drew over 250,000 from all over the country and the world, was named the “March for Jobs and Justice.” That march was hardly only about “dreaming for better days”. The purpose of that march, and the overarching theme of the speech was a call for jobs and justice for people of color–American citizens–NOW.

One month later, in September of 1963, a domestic terrorist and a member of the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama during Sunday School services, killing four little girls.

Certain lines from the latter part “I Have A Dream” speech are repeated over and over: especially “…I have a dream that my four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by content of their character…”

But certain other lines are forgotten or deliberately ignored. These statements from the speech are just as important or even more so, and they still ring true today.

“In a sense, we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. …This note [the promissory note written by the Founders] was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note…America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds’…We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off…Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children…

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back…No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Black people in America, and in fact, all people of color in this country, are STILL waiting to cash that check that still says “insufficient funds.”

There are some other people who are screaming that they want to “take THEIR country back.” THEIR country? This country belongs to ALL of us, not just some. Back to WHEN? When only white, straight, Christian, property-owning men had guaranteed rights?

In the historic words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,: “No, no. We will NOT go back.” We are here to cash our check with the fierce urgency of NOW.

 
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Natalie Cole: Lost But Not Forgotten

NatalieColeAt the very beginning of 2016, music lovers everywhere were shocked to learn that Natalie Cole, award-winning singer, actress, and daughter of the late Nat “King” Cole and Maria Cole, died on December 31, 2015, of heart failure. She was 65 years old.

Ms. Cole achieved her greatest artistic success as an R&B singer in the 1970s with such hits as “This Will Be,” “Our Love,”, and “Inseparable.” Through the magic of technology, Ms. Cole also recorded audio and video versions of the song “Unforgettable” that was fashioned as a “duet” with her famous late father. Ms. Cole sold over 30 millon records worldwide.

Ms. Cole overcame many tragedies and hardships during her life, including the death of her father when she was a teenager, three marriages, and several bouts with drug use, which negatively affected her health for decades.

 

 
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