Learn about the Costen Cultural exhibit

The Costen Cultural Exhibit  is a unique collection of rare photographs, documents, ephemera, memorabilia, fine art and collectibles which serves as a vehicle to educate, encourage, enlighten and inspire people of the African American imprint on this country.  It documents the history, literature, politics and culture and represents the diverse experience from across the country focusing on regional, ethnic and generational differences.  It attempts to explain the history that has been hidden from the world and it honors the contributions of African Americans to society.   It is a vibrant showcase of culture, history and education.  It invokes emotions ranging from pride and passion to enthusiasm and excitement.  It inspires and motivates while leaving a lasting and enlightening impact on adults and children alike.  It wants young people to know about their ancestors’ strengths, perseverance, dedication and struggles to open the gates a little wider for those who would come after them.

The Costen Cultural Exhibit was created by commercial hot air balloon pilot, photojournalist, collector and historian, Bill Costen.  He began collecting items many years ago for his personal inspiration but as the collection grew, he realized its potential to help educate society, especially children about the people that helped shape America.  Costen now shares his collection with the public by way of on-going exhibitions in which viewers are able to get a comprehensive glimpse of their heritage.  Having a passion for telling stories through his photography, Costen is very committed to sharing the history of America through thought-provoking exhibitions showing the African American’s role in that story.

The Costen Cultural Exhibit has been custom designed to travel to any location. Topics address the interests of all age groups and include: slavery, civil rights, politics, government, invention, science, athletics, sports, aviation, military, music, dance, theater, literary arts, religion, radio, film, television and other forms of popular entertainment. The exhibition has been displayed at fundraising events, schools, colleges, universities, museums, historical societies, churches, community organizations and corporations.

For further information, visit http://www.skyendeavors.net/

CT Young Writers Trust announces program for spring

The Connecticut Young Writers Trust — the state’s longest-running literary competition for teens, now in its 15th year — announces its program for spring 2012.

The trust will host free workshops for young poets and writers and their teachers from around the state on March 10 at the Jumoke Academy in Hartford and at Rockville High School on March 13.

On April 13, Connecticut poet Marilyn Nelson and novelist Wally Lamb will perform at The Hartford Club at 7 p.m. in a fundraising event.

Since 1998, the Trust has affirmed the work of more than 7,000 young poets and writers, awarding more than $200,000 in prize money.

For more about the contest, read the story by the Register Citizen of Torrington.

For more information visit  CT Young Writers Trust.

Coca-Cola Apprenticeship Experiences Contest for Teens

Coca-Cola Urges African Americans to “Pay It Forward” This Black History Month And Beyond

Grammy Award-winner and philanthropist Ne-Yo, fashion designer Tracy Reese and Essence president Michelle Ebanks are joining Coca-Cola in a refreshing new Black History Month program urging African Americans to “pay it forward” to the next generation.
The world’s most recognized brand celebrates Black history being made today, and aims to cultivate history yet to come, with the launch of “Coca-Cola Pay It Forward.” The program includes a public service challenge and online contest offering teens once-in-a-lifetime apprenticeship experiences with some of today’s leading celebrity history makers — Ne-Yo, Reese and Ebanks. “Coca-Cola Pay It Forward” is designed to inspire African Americans to take an active role in empowering today’s youth to become tomorrow’s history makers.
“‘Coca-Cola Pay It Forward’ charges each of us with the responsibility to advance the next generation,” said Kimberly Paige, assistant vice president, African American Marketing Group, Coca-Cola North America. “By drinking and supporting Coca-Cola, our consumers make it possible for us to pay it forward with this one-of-a-kind opportunity. We strongly encourage moms and dads to participate in the mission – simply by nominating their teens for the unique apprenticeship experiences. We also invite the rest of the country to pay it forward to young people in their homes and communities – helping them to achieve their education and career goals this Black History Month and beyond.”
Starting today, parents can go to My Coke Rewards (www.mycokerewards.com/payitforward) and nominate their child, age 16-19, for a chance to win an apprentice experience. The four “mom approved” and “teen endorsed” apprenticeships will focus on the following areas: fashion (Reese), business (Ebanks), music/entertainment and community/philanthropy (Ne-Yo). Winners will spend a week this summer in New York City or Atlanta being mentored by and shadowing their celebrity history makers and teams. Teens are also invited to nominate themselves. The contest runs through March 15.
“We have all benefitted from those who came before us; our success stands on their shoulders,” said Ne-Yo, recording artist, songwriter, producer, actor and founder of The Compound Foundation. “Without my mom and mentors, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am happy, through my charity, The Compound Foundation, to partner with Coca-Cola and help pay it forward to the next generation.”
In addition to awarding the national celebrity apprenticeship experiences, Coca-Cola will leverage corporate and community partnerships to provide local opportunities in select cities, including Atlanta, Memphis, Detroit, Birmingham and Chicago, expanding the program’s reach.
The Coca-Cola Pay It Forward Movement Coca-Cola urges African Americans to join in its national movement to pay it forward to the teens in their lives by helping them achieve their education and career aspirations. A public service announcement featuring Ne-Yo will run on radio stations across the country issuing the “Pay It Forward” challenge.
Paige encourages every adult to become involved with a youth by: mentoring; offering inspirational words; helping with homework; and exposing him or her to different career opportunities. The public is invited to share ways it is paying it forward this month by posting its contributions on Twitter and using the hashtag #PayItForward.

The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, the world’s most valuable brand, our Company’s portfolio features 15 billion dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.7 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world’s top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system employees. For more information, please visit www.thecoca-colacompany.com or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo.

National Arts Program winners announced

Karen Israel Takes ‘Best in Show’ At National Arts Program
Held at Capital Community College
More than half of all Winners Came from Hartford Artists; More than 300 art pieces were submitted in professional, amateur and youth categories

Karen Israel of West Hartford was awarded ‘Best in Show’ at the Community Renewal Team’s 21st Annual National Arts Program exhibit Saturday, Jan. 28 at Capital Community College. Judges for the work had to review more than 300 pieces in all media, from sketches on paper to sculpture and crafts. The exhibit of all works was on display at Capital Community College from Jan. 23 – Feb. 4.

Israel’s work, titled “Early Bird,” wowed judges with its life-like representation of a young girl sitting in a window and enjoying a snack in the morning sun. A strong field of judges included Andres Chaparro, artist and Manager in the City of Hartford Cultural Affairs Office; Janice La Motta, Art Director at Charter Oak Cultural Center; Anne Rice, Educator at the Wadsworth Antheneum; Erin Monroe, Curator at the Wadsworth Antheneum.

“Art is a language that is wonderful to share with the community and competitions like the CRT National Arts Program provide a wonderful venue for this expression,” said Israel.

The contest was open to all Hartford and Middlesex County residents, age six and older, and the event showcased the common bond between art and the community.

Half of all winners awarded were from Hartford, including first place wins in all categories except amateur adult. Wanda Seldon of Hartford (pictured with Andres Chaparro) took home 2nd place in the Intermediate category for her “Beyond Blue- Tribute to Miles Davis.”

Dance Theatre of Harlem II has NY debut

by Walter Rutledge
Harlem World Magazine

The Dance Theatre of Harlem II had their New York debut season at the Joyce Theatre this month. The company  presented an encyclopedic program of contemporary and neoclassic works by emerging, established and renowned choreographers. It also marks the return of the Dance Theatre of Harlem moniker to New York audiences for the first time in eight years, since the company went on hiatus in 2004.

Through efforts initiated by former Artistic Director/Founder Arthur Mitchell, Executive Director Laveen Naidu, and Ensemble Director Keith Saunders the Ensemble began to increase their visibility through expanded performance opportunities.  Over the last four years the company has built a formidable repertoire, with a strong group of young performers. Now under the direction of Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble not only took to the stage, but will set the stage for the long waited return of Dance Theatre of Harlem in 2013.

For more information, view http://dancetheatreofharlem.org


1) Photography by Rachel Neville 2) Photograph courtesy of Marion Cuyjet Estate



Harlem 1930s Jazz Scene in PBS documentary

A new music documentary American Masters Cab Calloway: Sketches — premiering nationally Monday, February 27 at 10pm (ET/PT) on PBS (check local listings) in honor of Black History Month. In the New York metro-area the film airs Sunday, February 26 at 8pm on THIRTEEN. The film will stream after the premiere at http://pbs.org/americanmasters

Watch Cab Calloway: Sketches on PBS. See more from American Masters.

Cab Calloway lived in New York at various times in his life: he was born in Rochester, became a regular on the Harlem jazz scene, and lived in Long Island and Westchester for much of his adult life. He also lived in Baltimore, Chicago and Delaware.
Emmy-winning filmmaker Gail Levin explores Cab Calloway’s musical beginnings and milestones in the context of the Harlem Renaissance and segregationist America using archival footage, animation based on caricatures by famed illustrator Steve Brodner and French cartoonist Cabu, and interviews. The animated Cab dances alongside Matthew Rushing, choreographer/principal dancer of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Uptown), who explains how modern Calloway’s movements were and his impact on hip-hop. Additional interviewees include Calloway’s daughters Cecelia and Camay; grandson and Cab Calloway Orchestra bandleader Chris “Calloway” Brooks; horn player Gerald Wilson; and The Blues Brothers (1980) director John Landis and band members Steve Cropper, Lou Marini and Donald “Duck” Dunne. The film introduced Cab and his music to a new generation, when he acted and performed as The Blues Brothers’s mentor, Curtis.

“I am especially delighted to bring Cab Calloway to younger audiences — and he does become quite alive through the inventive animation in this film,” says Susan Lacy, American Masters series creator and executive producer. “He, and his era, are such a vital part of our musical cultural heritage — and such an energetic one!”

“This film is not just another biopic in the sense of interviews and recollections, but a reinvigoration of the whole Calloway presence — a reprise of a timeless virtuoso,” adds Levin.

With The Cotton Club — where Blacks could perform but not attend — as his home stage, Cab became a star of New York’s jazz scene, and then a household name with his signature song “Minnie the Moocher.” Despite its tragic, taboo subject matter, the song broke into the mainstream and was even used in Max and Dave Fleischer’s Betty Boop cartoon of the same name, along with Cab’s dance moves. Breaking the color barrier with this “hi de ho” hit, Cab was one of the first Black musicians to tour the segregationist South. He published a Hepster’s Dictionary of his jive slang in 1938, starred in films including Stormy Weather (1943) with Lena Horne and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and played Sportin’ Life — a role George Gershwin modeled on him — in a 1952 touring production of Porgy and Bess, making “It Ain’t Necessarily So” an enduring part of his brand. With his zany theatricality — scat singing, jive talking, zoot suit wearing, straight-hair, head-shaking, and backslide dance (a precursor to Michael Jackson’s moonwalk) — Cab transcended racial specificity on his own terms.

To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the companion website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, interviews, essays, photographs, outtakes, and other resources.

In 2011, American Masters earned its eighth Emmy Award for Outstanding Primetime Nonfiction Series in 11 years. Now in its 26th season, the series is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations, and operator of NJTV. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local documentaries and other programs to the New York community.

Cab Calloway: Sketches is a co-production of Artline Films, ARTE France, and AVRO, in association with Inscape Productions and THIRTEEN’s American Masters for WNET. Gail Levin is director and executive producer for Inscape Productions. Jean-François Pitet and Gail Levin are co-writers. Olivier Mille is producer for Artline Films. Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters. This program is made possible in part by the support of CNC, PROCIREP, ANGOA, and SACEM.

American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Jack Rudin, Vital Projects Fund, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers.

In Memory of Whitney Houston

By Sasha Allen

It is always devastating when someone dies, but especially so when that person is as iconic as Whitney Houston.

Of course, we cannot place blame squarely on her relationships and her struggles with addiction. Whitney Houston had options and access to help. We can only wish that her will to survive was more powerful than any demon. Especially for the sake of her child.

My heart goes out Bobby Kristina who has lost a parent and cannot grieve in private. For her there is no escaping the reality that her mother is gone. Her mother’s death is publicized in the media, her mother’s voice heard on the radio regardless of the genre of music they typically play.

This is a reminder to celebrate all the creative individuals we find revolutionary. Let us demonstrate our appreciation while they are alive so that they may bask in that joy.


Eastern Conn. St. U. presents MLK Jr. Series

Eastern Connecticut State University Presents 12-Part TV Series on Martin Luther King Jr.

Had he lived, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 83 years old this year.  As part of its celebration of King’s birthday, Eastern Connecticut State University will present a 12-part series looking back on the life and times of the man, widely considered as the greatest civil rights leader of the past century.

The series, which contains a greeting by Eastern President Elsa M. Núñez, was researched, written and produced by Dwight Bachman, public relations officer at Eastern. The series will air all day on Jan. 16, the national celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Channel 22, Eastern’s cable channel. It will air on even hours all day beginning at midnight and ending 24 hours later on Jan. 17. A link to the streaming video can be found at: http://infxapps.influxis.com/apps/xhnphplay7hd7cpijtlm/InfluxisPlayer_20101213144359/InfluxisPlayer.html

The series, which Eastern Professor of Theatre Ellen Brodie described as “an on-going beacon lighting the memory of Dr. King and a loving gift to future generations,” begins with a look at the forces that brought this humble Baptist preacher out of his pulpit and pushed him into the forefront of the civil rights movement.  From there, it moves on to the role King played in desegregating the transit system of Montgomery, AL.  It also reveals how King reacted to the many threats on his life; his extraordinary ability to articulate an idea; and his response to liberals who said he was moving too fast, and cites Christian clergymen who said he was a Communist troublemaker who belonged in jail.

“Much emphasis is put on Dr. King’s tactic of nonviolent civil disobedience, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Peace,” said Bachman. “We often forget King’s goals of achieving fairness for everyone and ending segregation, injustice, racism and discrimination. Dr. King did not die for non-violence; that was simply his tactic. The night he died in Memphis, Tennessee, he was fighting for fair pay and economic justice for sanitation workers in that city who, as he said, ‘cannot eat three square meals a day.’ We all should pay more attention to King’s goals rather than his tactics.”

The series originally aired in 1983 on the Stamford, CT-based Satellite News Channel (SNC), where Bachman was a news producer at the time.  Jose Grinan, SNC anchorman, narrates the series. Nick Messina, director of media services at Eastern, and Craig Naumec, multimedia production technician in Media Services, recreated the series for the Eastern Connecticut State University television broadcast.

Eastern Connecticut State University is part of the Connecticut State University System (CSUS) and is the state’s public liberal arts university. Eastern serves more than 5,000 students each year on its Willimantic campus.

It is the policy of Eastern Connecticut State University to ensure equal access to its events. If you are an individual with a disability and will need accommodations for this event, please contact the Office of University Relations at (860) 465-5735.