It is still African-American History month, and I’m not finished “Cellibrating” yet!
Academy Award winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o made history with her performance in Steve McQueen’s, “Twelve Years a Slave,” as the young slave girl, Patsey. She arrived on the scene with warm cocoa colored skin, a flash of perfect white teeth, and a springy coif of curly black hair cropped short to accentuate her uniquely beautiful Kenyan features.
Her accomplishments are as follows:
1. Nyong’o is the first Kenyan and first Mexican actress to win an Academy Award.
2. First Black African to win in any category of the Academy Awards.
3. Second Black actor to win for a debut performance, in the 86th Annual Academy Awards (2014).
Lupita created a stir with her unapologetic, fearless, natural beauty and continues to influence the world’s perception about what and who defines beauty. In her acceptance speech she references what it feels like to be considered “different”. She says,”When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid…” Her style, grace, and elegance are impeccable. Lupita is considered to be one of today’s foremost style icons.
This year, Lupita Nyong’o WINS AGAIN! Nyong’o takes the prize for the most talked about, most beautiful, and probably the most expensive gown ever worn by an actress at an Academy Awards Ceremony. This year, Nyong’o left everyone breathless at the 87th Annual Academy Awards Red Carpet event, when she arrived in a custom designed Calvin Klein Collection, hand-beaded cultured pearl gown, a unique and original design.
87th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony Presenter-Calvin Klein Collection
87th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony Presenter-6,000 Pearls est. $150k
87th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony Presenter-Natural Pearl Hand Beaded Gown
The beautiful custom gown was created by Francisco Costa and featured cascading strands of 6,000 pearls and was paired with Chopard jewels adorning Nyong’o’s ears.
The price of the pearls alone were estimated at $150,000 USD, according to Fortune magazine (2015). The man hours, additional bead work and sequins could possibly tip the scale by an additional $100k USD. That’s one expensive, and luxurious gown, Lupita! Beauty defined…Bravo!
She is considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful, sanguine, philanthropic, and talented women that ever lived. She is the marvelous Mme. Josephine Baker.
Baker was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress who came to be known in various circles as the “Black Pearl,” “Bronze Venus” and even the “Creole Goddess”. Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine later became a citizen of France in 1937. She was fluent in both English and French.
Baker was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou (1934) or to become a world-famous entertainer. Baker, who refused to perform for segregated audiences in America, is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
Josephine Baker, made her mark in the Civil Rights Movement through her involvement with the March on Washington for Jobs, Justice and Freedom. Most are not aware, but in 1963, only one woman addressed the crowd, that was Josephine Baker.
It was the dawn of a new era, the ushering in of a new time, where Black expression of art and culture took hold of the world stage-never leaving, never missing a beat, the African-American artistic collective was named the “Harlem Renaissance,” and we still honor and learn from the artifacts today.
“Spanning the 1920s to the mid-1930s, the Harlem Renaissance was a literary, artistic, and intellectual movement that kindled a new black cultural identity. Its essence was summed up by critic and teacher Alain Locke in 1926 when he declared that through art, “Negro life is seizing its first chances for group expression and self-determination.” Harlem became the center of a “spiritual coming of age” in which Locke’s “New Negro” transformed “social disillusionment to race pride.” Chiefly literary, the Renaissance included the visual arts but excluded jazz, despite its parallel emergence as a black art form”- Discover More : History.com
Male and female artists, musicians, dancers, actors, poets, authors were internationally recognized for their works which helped shape and define the culture of the African-American living in America, and abroad. The artists recognized here were an integral part of documenting the post-slavery era in such a way that journalized African American heritage and culture.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!” – Bob Marley
Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a prolific Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim. Marley began his musical journey in 1963 with the group the Wailers. His songwriting and distinctive vocal style resonate with audiences across the globe.
The Wailers released their earliest reggae records with producer Lee Scratch Perry. The Wailers parted ways in 1974. Marley ventured a solo career which blossomed the release of the epic “Exodus” album in 1977. Exodus established Marley worldwide with a reputation as one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, with sales of more than 75 million records.
Bob Marley was a committed Rastafari who, “infused his music with a sense of spirituality.” Marley has been compared to some of the world’s foremost spiritual leaders by having millions of devoted followers and through spreading the consciousness of the Rastafari religion. Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley would have been 70 years old today.
Keep in touch with the “Cellibration” of Black History Month through my series of articles featuring notable people of African descent , here at www. cellibration.com.
Ahhhh…”the good ole days”…my parents and grandparents always shared stories of fancy supper clubs featuring famous performers. The gents would be wearing their finest silk suits and lovely ladies would be dressed in their opulent evening gowns. Here are a few images from the time when the music was sweet and the dancing was smooth.
Let’s take a stroll through some Historic Black Glamour through photographs.
“Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist. Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood, where she had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. Because of the Red Scare and her left-leaning political views, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood.Her career spanned over 70 years appearing in film, television and on broadway.”
Hazel Dorothy Scott (June 11, 1920 – October 2, 1981) was an internationally known, American jazz and classicalpianist and singer; she also performed as herself in several films. She was prominent as a jazz singer throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1950, she became the first woman of color to have her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show,featuring a variety of entertainment. To evade the political persecution of artists in the McCarthy era, Scott moved to Paris in the late 1950s and performed in France, not returning to the United States until 1967.
Born in Port of Spain, Hazel was taken at the age of four by her mother to New York. Recognized early as a musical prodigy, Scott was given scholarships from the age of eight to study at the Juilliard School. She began performing in a jazz band in her teens and was performing on radio at age 16.
Actress and singer Sheila Guyse, best known for her role in the 1947 film “Sepia Cinderella,” died on December 28, 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii at the age of 88. Ms. Guyse was born Etta Drucille Guyse on July 14, 1925, in Forest, Mississippi. After winning the amateur night competition at the Apollo Theater, she appeared in Broadway musicals like “Finian’s Rainbow” (1947) and “Lost in the Stars” (1949) along with several other film appearances including “Miracle In Harlem” in 1948.
There is much more where this came from! Join the “cellibration” of Black History Month, here at http://www.cellibration.com. I call it African American History Month because it is important for me to emphasize and pay homage to African culture and American culture through literature, history, photographs, prose, and more.
If you are a lover of all things vintage, like me, check out the book “Vintage Black Glamour” by Nichelle Gainer. She has curated hundreds of vintage photos documenting African-American culture and the arts. It will be a beautiful coffee table book or conversation piece at your next event. Check it out!
After reading a fascinating blog on ancient Egyptian and African Civilizations I was amazed at how much of this information is excluded from the curriculum of ALL of the schools I ever attended. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who goes on self-directed-study missions. Obviously, African civilization predates the birth of Christ, they had to tell us that part. I am also aware that we can not depend on school to teach us ALL that we need to know about life and generations of people who have come before us. But the question persists, how do we learn? As an author/publisher it saddens me when I hear people say that they “don’t like to read”: how sad. Many people do like to read, and do so voraciously. I am one who does. As an educator, I realize that the new millennium guy and gal likes to watch a movie about a topic first, then if the interest persists, they will read more about the topic; maybe. While earning our compulsory “educations,” we learn from “snapshots” of information that have been reduced to a few paragraphs in a textbook. As a member of the literary collective, I must delve into historical texts and learn more, share more. I crave the knowledge. So, I teach myself.
At any rate, I found a great article at the “Atlanta Black Star” blog. It is comprehensive enough to whet the appetite of the novice and support the work of a brave soul who may attempt to write about our royals. The blog entry was created in response to a comment Nick Cannon made in 2012, in reference to Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” Cannon believes that Hollywood should be making movies about African Leadership, worldwide, and that we should start with the ancients. Nick Cannon has this to say about African Leaders and Royals in film: “Why don’t they make movies about our African kings & queens? Our History? I would love to see a film about Akhenaton and his beautiful wife Queen Nefertiti! Or Cetewayo, a king who was a war hero. I’m about to drive to my office right now and start the development! New Hollywood Trend, Black king and queen films! Starring Black people!!”
Come on film makers, screen writers, we have some work to do…
“King Hannibal is said to be the greatest military leader and strategist of all time. Hannibal was born in 247 B.C., during the beginning of the decline of Carthage, then a maritime power near present-day Tunis in North Africa.”
“King Mansa Musa I (Emperor Moses) was an important Malian king, ruling from 1312 to 1337 and expanding the Mali influence over the Niger city-states of Timbuktu, Gao, and Djenne.
Musa ruled the Mali Empire and was estimated to have been worth the equivalent of $400 billion in today’s currency, which makes him the richest man to ever walk this earth.”
“Shaka, king of the Zulus, was born in 1787, the son of Zulu Chief Senzangakhona and his wife Nandi. When Shaka was 26, his father died and left the throne to a son, Sijuana. Shaka ambushed and killed Sijuana, taking leadership of the Zulus. He came to power around 1818.
A strong leader and military innovator, Shaka is noted for revolutionizing 19th century Bantu warfare by first grouping regiments by age, and training his men to use standardized weapons and special tactics.”
“The Ashantis, led by Nana Yaa Asantewa, fought very bravely. Nana Yaa Asantewa’s speech stirred the men. She said, “If you men will not go forward, then we the women will. I will call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men until the last of us falls in the battlefields.”
“King Ramesses II, also referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. He reigned from 1279 B.C. to 1213 B.C. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire. His successors and later Egyptians called him the “Great Ancestor.” Ramesses II led several military expeditions into the Levant, reasserting Egyptian control over Canaan. He also led expeditions south into Nubia, commemorated in inscriptions at the temples at Beit el-Wali and Gerf Hussein.
At age 14, Ramesses was appointed prince regent by his father Seti I. He is believed to have taken the throne in his late teens and is known to have ruled Egypt for 66 years and 2 months, according to Egypt’s contemporary historical records. He was once reported to have lived to 99 years old.”
“Queen Nefertari was the Nubian queen from 1292 to 1225 B.C. One of a many great Nubian queens, Nefertari is heralded as the queen who wed for peace. Her marriage to Ramesses II began strictly as a political move, a sharing of power between two leaders. But not only did it grow into one of the greatest royal love affairs in history, but brought the hundred year war between Nubia and Egypt to an end.”
“Amenhotep IV, better known as “Akhenaton” is in some respects the most remarkable of the pharaohs. Akhenaton is considered the founder of the first monotheistic religion. He ruled from approximately 1352 – 1336 B.C., coming into power after his father, Amenhotep III, died. Akhenaton’s reign left a profound effect on Egypt and the entire world of his day. Thirteen hundred years before Christ, he preached and lived the gospel of perfect love, brotherhood, and truth. Two thousand years before Muhammed, he taught the doctrine of the “one God.” Three thousand years before Darwin, he sensed the unity that runs through all living things.”
“Taharqa is probably one of the most famous rulers of Napatan Kush, reigning from 690 to 664 B.C.. At 16, this great Nubian king led his armies against the invading Assyrians in defense of his ally, Israel. This action earned him a place in the Bible (Isaiah 37:9, 2 Kings 19:9).”
“Queen Nzingha or “Amazon Queen of Matamba” was born in West Africa in 1583 and died 1663. Many women ranked among the great rulers of Africa, including this Angolan queen who was an astute diplomat and excelled as a military leader. When the slave-hunting Portuguese attacked the army of her brother’s kingdom, Nzingha was sent to negotiate the peace. She did so with astonishing skill and political tact, despite the fact that her brother had her only child killed.”
“In 960 B.C., the nation that is now called Ethiopia came back upon the center of the stage of history. Ethiopia was then represented by a queen, who in some books is referred to as “Makeda” or “Belkis.” She is better known to the world as the queen of Sheba.
In his book, “World’s Great Men of Color,” J.A. Rogers , gives this description: “Out of the mists of 3,000 years, emerges this beautiful story of an African queen who, attracted by the fame of a Judean monarch, made a long journey to see him.”
The queen of Sheba is said to have undertaken a long and difficult journey to Jerusalem to learn from the wisdom of the great King Solomon. They had a son together, Menelik I.”
Each royal has a life so rich with legend: they owned the land, gold, bronze, and diamonds. They had command over the animals, and the earth. They led legions of warriors and educated the world in areas of science, astronomy, and mathematics. These stories deserve some screen time. I hope that Cannon has indeed begun the development on at least one of these many glorious stories of African Royalty. Learn more about ancient civilizations and culture here at http://www.cellibration.com during Black History Month.