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Edward Colston Statue

Edward Colston Statue Replaced With Sculpture Of Black Lives Matter Protester

Black Lives Matter protests have been occurring all across the world for the past couple of months in wake of the untimely death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and countless other black individuals at the hands of the police. One of the newest aspects of these demonstrations calls for a removal of countless statues and monuments that honor historical figures who were either slave owners, political figures who made racist policies targeted at black people, etc. 

In Bristol, UK, protestors made headlines last month when they tore down a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader from the 17th century. Once they tore down the statue they dumped it into the River Avon, a body of water Colston often used to bring black people into the UK to be traded as slaves. 

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Now, the city has decided to reckon their past mistake of honoring Colston and instead have mounted a new statue that honors the Black Lives Matter movement. Marc Quinn is the British artist who was hired to create the new statue, which now depicts a young woman standing with her fist raised in a Black Power salute in the same exact spot that Colston’s statue stood for decades. 

The statue is inspired specifically by Jen Reid, a Bristol resident whose photo has circulated social media within the past month after she climbed up onto the empty podium where Colston’s statue once stood and raised her fist. After Quinn contacted Reid he made a life-sized sculpture of her based off the photograph using black resign.

“It is such a powerful image, of a moment I felt had to be materialized, forever. I contacted Jen via social media to discuss the idea of the sculpture and she told me she wanted to collaborate.”

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Quinn stated that his friend was the one who initially showed him the photograph of Reid and right away he thought to himself “how incredible it would be to make a sculpture of her.” The sculpture is officially titled “A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020,” and unfortunately will only be temporarily erected where it currently stands. 

Quinn didn’t receive permission to erect the statue there, however, if it sells before it’s forcibly removed, Quinn claims the money made will be donated among two charities that will be chosen by Reid and work to promote the inclusion of Black history in school curriculums. The goal of the statue is to “highlight the unacceptable problem of institutionalized and systemic racism” and force individuals with privilege to confront the ways in which they’ve fueled that fire. 

Reid also spoke with media outlets, claiming that her climbing onto the statue’s platform during the June demonstration was a complete impulse decision. The protest itself was on June 7th in Bristol and brought in an estimated 10,000 participants. She claimed she initially agreed to collaborate with Quinn in order to “keep the journey towards racial justice and equality moving.” 

“It’s about Black children seeing it up there. It’s something to feel proud of, to have a sense of belonging, because we actually do belong here and we’re not going anywhere.”

The trend of tearing down statues and petitioning for their removal based on the individuals depicted having extremely racist pasts is growing large all around the world. As protests continue throughout America and the rest of the world every single day, one of the goals will now be to replace them all with individuals who made real lasting impacts on the history of this country.

Popcorn and Remote by TV

Get The Best Seat In The House With These Online Theater Productions

With Broadway, movies, concerts, and other cultural establishments remaining indefinitely closed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, many are turning to digital forms of entertainment to get their fix. Thanks to the power of live-stream technology and a multitude of archived collections, fans have been able to watch all their favorite productions from home. Here’s some of the most popular things people are watching around the world right now. 

Hamilton: If you’re on social media of any kind you’re definitely already aware that Hamilton has been uploaded to Disney+. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s highly praised Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical about the country’s founding fathers was filmed over the course of three nights in New York back in 2016 with the original cast. Director Thomas Kail claims that they filmed and edited the show to give audiences at home the “best seat in the house.” 

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The National Theater At Home: The National Theater at Home Initiative has become widely popular all around the world. Popular theater productions are streamed for free online every Thursday at 7 pm and then remain uploaded on the site for seven days until the next show. Currently The Deep Blue Sea, written by Terence Rattingan, is set to be performed and uploaded to the site from July 9th-16th followed by Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. 

549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War: The 2019 archived production of the play has recently been uploaded to YouTube where it will remain until July 31st. Jack Nurse and Robbie Gordon’s play follows four miners from East Lothian who volunteer for the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The play has been widely well received for its polished choreography during battle scenes, and raw singing talent of the actors. 

WeRNotVirus: In this special directed by Jennifer Tang and Anthony Lau, 10 short dramas unfold for the viewer, each depicting a different part of the current racism pandemic the world is battling simultaneously alongside Covid-19. The entire production is two hours in length and incorporates multiple mediums such as animation, poetry, music, and of course, singing and dancing. The special is currently available on YouTube.

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Tiny Dancers: The National Youth Theatre created this production using a multitude of young dancers. Created throughout the course of the pandemic, this production is described as a “funny and heartfelt look at how it feels to be together and apart.” The production will be available for free on YouTube from July 23rd-31st. The group will also be uploading a Q&A style video on July 23rd that will take viewers behind the scenes of the production. 

The Lord Chamberlain’s Men: This all-male theater company is known in the UK for touring and performing open-air Shakespeare productions. They were performing Macbeth when the pandemic began and have since postponed the rest of the tour indefinitely. However, they recently shared two past archived productions online. The Tempest, filmed in 2018, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream, performed last year, are currently streaming to celebrate the companies 15 year anniversary. 

Scenes For Survival: The National Theatre of Scotland was one of the first cultural institutions in the world to announce a lockdown program for viewers at home. The company is continuously streaming and uploading their collection of short films which are meant to “offer audiences a sense of hope and joy” during such uncertain times. 

The Show Must Go Online: Finally, actor Robert Myles has set up a live-stream reading group that he’s advertising for professional and amateur actors to join. The group of actors perform Shakespeare’s complete plays in the order that they agreed they were likely written. The goal is to give actors old and new an opportunity to continue to practice their craft and have a sense of normalcy for a few hours while they do what they love. 

Congressman John Lewis’ 80 Year Fight For Racial Justice

John Lewis is a civil rights leader who’s served as a congressman for Georgia for 17-terms.

NYC Broadway

Hugh Jackman And Sutton Foster To Star Broadway Revival Of ‘The Music Man’

New York City unfortunately had to close down Broadway and the rest of its cultural institutions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, however, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still planning for the future of theater and entertainment in the city that never sleeps. 

Most recently, Broadway made the announcement that come May 2021, audiences would be able to relive the classic Broadway musicals in history, Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man. Beyond just that, they also announced that the show would be starring none other than Tony, Grammy, and Emmy award-winner Hugh Jackman as Professor Harold Hill. Jackman will be joined on stage by two-time Tony award-winning actress Sutton Foster as Marian Paroo in the musical that initially premiered in 1957. 

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Broadway producers Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, and David Geffen made the announcement this past Tuesday regarding the revival. The goal is to have show previews begin on April 7th, 2021, and open on May 20th, 2021 at the Winter Garden Theater. Rehearsals are also meant to begin on February 8th if all goes to plan. 

“Performing on Broadway is a great honor for an actor; in fact, one of the greatest. No two shows are exactly alike, in large part due to the audience,” Jackman said.

Jackman continued to reflect on his past experiences on Broadway and how excited he was to return to the stage. He’s mainly looking forward to opening night, describing the sensation of being filled with “anticipation, fear and excitement. The energy in the theater is palpable.” Jackman claims that the change in dates and planning for the musicals revival due to Covid-19 may be disappointing, but in the long run it shouldn’t change much in regard to the production and work that needs to be done before the show makes its debut. 

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The show will be directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Other notable individuals that will be starring in the production include Tony-award winning actors Jayne Houdyshell as Mrs. Shinn, Jefferson Mays as Mayor Shinn, Marie Mullen as Mrs. Paroo, and Shuler Hensley as Marcellus Washburn.

“We’re obviously profoundly disappointed to be unable to start rehearsals for The Music Man as scheduled. But safety is safety, and it has to take precedence over every other consideration — for both our audience and for our company,” Rudin said.

Rudin continued to say that despite the show being postponed the entire team and company working behind-the-scenes will be sticking together through it all and will continue to make adjustments as our world attempts to recover from this deadly pandemic. 

As previously mentioned, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down all Broadway Theaters back in the beginning of March when the virus initially infiltrated New York City. Initially, when the city shut down the plan was to remain closed for one month; which has now obviously been extended to Labor Day, prompting many Broadway producers to offer refunds for any shows that were meant to take place before September 6th.Tickets for The Music Man are currently available on Telecharge.com for the April 7th date, and fans will also be able to sign up to be alerted when more tickets go on sale through Broadway.com.

Transgender Flag

Massive Protests Erupt In Response To Multiple Murders Of Black Transgender Women In America

Riah Milton was 25 and Dominique Fells was 27; both were black trans women, and both were murdered. The two victims were discovered a couple of weeks ago within the same week of eachother in what advocacy groups are calling the latest deaths in an epidemic facing transgender people; but more specifically black trans women.

Father & Daugher

Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day is this Sunday, and with the world in such a chaotic state, many have likely forgotten that it was this weekend! However, there are plenty of last minute gifts you can order or go buy that will show your dad that you’re still thinking about them, especially now. During a pandemic, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own anxieties, however, if anything it should make us all much more appreciative of the individuals that are still in our lives. So even if some of us can’t hug our dads this Sunday, we can still make them smile. 

Wireless headphones/earbuds are a great gift for any dad. My dad is personally still stuck in the 60’s and using a walkman, however, for Christmas we upgraded him with a brand new iPod to hold all his discographies. Now, it’s time to get him some sleek and portable headphones that he can use wherever and connect to any bluetooth capable device. Airpods are one of the most popular options, however, brands such as Bose, Beats, and Microsoft also have plenty of high quality wireless headphone options. 

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If you’re dad’s relatively active and enjoys basic dad things such as checking the weather, a smartwatch/fitness tracker would be perfect! If you just want to get a device that tracks all things fitness such as heart rate, steps, sleep patterns, etc. then Fitbit and brands like it offer cheap options for the dad who can’t stop moving! If your dad is a little more technologically inclined, something like an Apple Watch that is used for a multitude of things beyond just fitness, could also be perfect. 

A powerful speaker is another great option for the dad who likes to spend his weekends doing work around the house, cooking, or just relaxing in the backyard with an iced cold beverage. Smart speakers especially can help your dad play his music from any room in the house, and most are modernly designed to remain sleek while still delivering loud crisp sound. 

A shaving kit is a great staple gift to get for your dad as well. The Art of Shaving 5-piece Travel Kit specifically offers :4 elements for the perfect shave.” The kit itself includes a razor, black travel bag, pre-shave oil, shaving cream, and after-shave balm. All product sizes also meet TSA guidelines for any future travel. 

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Along those same lines, companies such as Birchbox offer a $10 monthly subscription box that will hand deliver your dad a package full of the latest skincare, grooming, and hair styling products for men. Birchbox specifically offers a grooming subscription service for men that mixes up the type of products your dad would receive every month. Once you give him the membership, your dad will be able to fill out a grooming profile online that will allow him to choose from brand name products that he already likes to help Birchbox understand what type of things he’s looking for. The box is equipped with sample sizes of every product but if there’s one in particular that your dad really enjoys, he’ll be able to order a full size easily through Birchboxes website. 

Mugs are so 2005, bring your dad into the next decade by getting him a Yeti insulated tumbler to keep all of his beverages either extremely hot, or extremely cold. Yeti in general has grown in popularity throughout the past few years; they’re most famously known for their industrial coolers. This particular tumbler features an easy to use lid, double wall insulation, and is completely dishwasher safe. 

Regardless of what you get your father this year, make you tell them how appreciative you are more than anything. During times of such uncertainty, it’s important to hold our loved ones as close as possible (or to appreciate them from 6 feet apart).

Black Lives Matter Paper

Juneteenth: The History Behind Black Independence Day

Juneteenth is a nationally celebrated holiday among black Americans meant to honor the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday takes place on June 19th, this Friday, and while it’s not recognized by the federal government as a national holiday, it’s definitely celebrated as one. This Juneteenth is gearing up to be one of the most important in history, as America is currently enduring a national reckoning on race that was prompted by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and hundreds of other black Americans who were killed by the police. 

Millions of individuals all over the world have been protesting for ‘Black Lives Matter’ and nationwide police abolition. There’s also been an emphasis on defunding the police to redistribute the billions of dollars they receive every year into things this country actually needs, such as medical gear for the Covid-19 pandemic were still enduring. 

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So what exactly is the history behind Juneteenth? On June 19th, 1865, General Gordon Granger and his fleet of Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, where they announced to citizens that all enslaved black people were to be freed and the Civil War had ended. This occurred about two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. When Lincoln initially delivered the Proclamation, there weren’t enough Union troops in Texas, and the South in general, to enforce it. Once Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered, Union forces became strong enough to begin enforcing the Proclamation. 

When General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas, he was quoted stating that “the people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

The holiday gets its name from combining the month of June and the nineteenth, but is also referred to as Emancipation day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day. Celebrations for Juneteenth are held in all 50 states, more or less, but especially in the South. Normally individuals celebrate by hosting picnics, rodeos, religious ceremonies, educational workshops on black history, and historical services geared towards children, according to the holidays official website

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As previously mentioned, nearly all states in America recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, but it’s still not recognized nationally by the government. However, this year big business names such as Nike, Twitter, and even the NFL have recognized Juneteenth as a company holiday. Cliff Robinson is the founder of Juneteenth’s official website, and he recently claimed that he’s never seen the site get more traffic then it has this year. 

“There’s been far more attention on [my] website this year, and more companies have reached out to asking for speakers to provide virtual educational seminars on the significance of the holiday. The holiday this year may hold more significance for a lot of people because of the social unrest and racial upheaval that’s taking place. But [the fact] that many Americans were not aware of the holiday until recently is part of the problem,” Robinson said. 

Robinson believes that the momentum behind the movement could give Juneteenth the backing it needs to be nationally recognized. Beyond just Juneteenth, individuals with privilege are truly beginning to understand and listen to black voices and the ways the system has failed them, so this Friday should truly be a celebration. 

If you’re planning on attending a Juneteenth celebration this weekend, make sure you’re still abiding by social distancing/health and safety procedures. It’s necessary and good to celebrate, but we’re still very much enduring a pandemic, so wear a mask and stand 6 feet apart!

Cop Car

‘Live P.D.’ Cancelled Amid Worldwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Television network A&E has announced this week that they will be cancelling their hit-series Live P.D. in wake of George Floyd’s death and the political unrest in this country regarding police brutality against black Americans.

The series itself was already on hiatus amid the covid-19 pandemic, like many other television series that are unable to film due to health concerns. Now, the network announced that the hiatus would remain permanent out of respect to their black viewers.

“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD. Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments,” the network said in a statement.

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The cancellation decision was made by A&E and MGM’s Big Fish Entertainment, which is the production company that has always produced the series. Live P.D. isn’t the only reality-police television series getting the boot amid these worldwide protests against racism. The announcement of Live P.D.’s cancellation came just one day after the Paramount Network announced that they would be cancelling Cops; the show originally aired in 1989.

Initially, the plan was going to be to keep Live P.D. in its hiatus until they could have extended conversations with the community, police, and fans on the best way to keep the show alive while still respecting the protesters fighting for basic human rights across the nation. Ultimately, the network and production decided a complete cancellation was the only way.

This decision came after members of production realized there was no way to continue the show in its current form especially when protesters, politicians, and celebrities with massive platforms are all calling for a complete overhaul of the police system.

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Live P.D. has always been controversial, as black viewers often felt it purposefully demonized individuals of color while praising the officers for their aggressive means of arrest. More specifically, in March of 2019 Javier Ambler was murdered during a police stop which has been allegedly captured by the crew of Live P.D.; the video has since been destroyed.

That incident, however, barely impacted the network or show. In fact, before these nationwide protests began two weeks ago, A&E had actually renewed the series for another 160 episodes. This makes sense, as Live P.D. was cable’s #1 show on Fridays and Saturdays in 2019, and actually boosted the network ratings so much that A&E became one of the leading cable networks.

During the pandemic especially, the show received a massive spike in viewership, along with many other cable television programs. The show was receiving about 3 million viewers every weekend.

The host of the show, Dan Abrams, took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the decision to cancel, as he genuinely believed the network would be able to work out a solution. However, Abrams and fans were left disappointed. The future of all other police related television shows are still up in the air, but after Cops, which has been on for three decades, was cancelled, many programs aren’t so confident. Like all things pandemic related, only time will tell what the future holds for authoritative related television programming.

Amazon Building

Amazon Employees Suing Company Over Covid-19 Negligence

A group of Amazon employees are suing the massive company, alleging that Amazon has mandated unsafe working conditions within one of their fulfillment centers which directly lead to an outbreak of Covid-19 cases among the warehouse workers, resulting in multiple employee deaths from the virus. 

“This case is about Amazon’s failures to comply with New York law and state and federal public health guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic at the JFK8 facility. The company has relied on purposeful miscommunication with workers, sloppy contact tracing, and the culture of workplace fear it has instilled at JFK to ensure it can maintain productivity while reducing costs, even if that means workers come to work sick and cannot engage in proper hygiene, sanitizing, or social distancing while at work in order to stay healthy,” according to the official legal complaint

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The JFK8 facility is located on Staten Island, and at least one worker has died due to contracting the coronavirus; several others are currently sick. Employees received word this week that new cases were still appearing at the facility. According to one of the main plaintiffs, she alleges that after contractiv Covid-19 from the warehouse she “awoke to find her cousin with whom she lived dead in their bathroom after he developed COVID-19 symptoms as well.” 

Originally the plaintiff also claims she requested paid leave for when she needed to quarantine and Amazon refused to pay it; Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, has made $24 billion during the duration of the coronavirus pandemic alone. However, aside from their back pays, employees aren’t actually seeking financial compensation for past errors in company judgement, instead, they want “an order requiring Amazon to comply with public health guidance to prevent more harm in the future.”

You may remember this specific Amazon fulfillment center for being in the news in March when they fired warehouse employee, Christian Smalls, for organizing a protest against the company’s irresponsible treatment of employees during a worldwide health crisis. Further investigation into Amazon’s handling of that firing revealed that senior leadership from Amazon specifically targeted Smalls to paint him as the face of the entire resistance movement. 

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“If possible, make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement. He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers,”  the company’s general counsel, David Zapolsky, wrote in the memo.

The Office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James began an investigation in April into the health and safety practices of all Amazon warehouses in New York. “The information so far available to us raises concerns that Amazon’s health and safety measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are so inadequate that they may violate several provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” James’ staff claims. 

Many individuals have been afraid to speak up due to Smalls’ unjust firing, and the several other NY employees who have been terminated for speaking up against management. An Amazon spokesperson recently emphasized how all they want from the company is to have them abide by all the rules put in place by the CDC and WHO. 

For now, the fight continues, Amazon has responded to these multiple claims by donating over $4 billion to Covid-19 related initiatives; which has given the employees even more motivation to sue, as their company has now been shelling out billions for country wide health and safety practices, but they haven’t even fixed anything in their own warehouses. 

To read the entire legal complaint, click here.

Black Lives Matter Flag

Author Carol Anderson Parallels America’s Fight For Racial Justice To 100 Years Ago

Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University. In her spare time she writes op-ed pieces for The Guardian that cover issues in America regarding racism, white supremacy, our Justice System, and more.