The Q&A: Mississippi Mud


Q: What is it that you love most about melanin?
A: Melanin is the supreme creator. When I think of melanin I think of the triple darkness of the universe, that everything came forth from. Melanin is everything. It’s everything.
Q: Why is this event important?
A: Mississippi Mud is important because it expresses a freedom that we take for granted. We have taken the spirituality out of it. Mississippi Mud is a way for us to express sex in a healthy medium and in an environment that is conducive for how it should be received and how it should be emanated. Sex is cultural. Each culture of people has different sexual habits, that are acceptable and not acceptable. This event is to make it palatable.
Q: Could you consider Mississippi Mud to be a ritual?
A: Mississippi Mud is a ritual. It happens ritualistically. It will happen ritualistically in places that are ritualistically connected to Africans living in America. The first one is happening days after the winter solstice.
Q: What initially led to Mississippi Mud?
A: Curiosity. The desire to see other Africans be intimate with each other; to paint us in a light where we can be freaky, we can be revolutionary, we can be sophisticated, we can be nasty, we can be us in every form.
Q: What of your life experiences made you want to create something like Mississippi Mud, you could have responded in a number of different ways, so why this?
A: When I go out music is my religion and dancing is my spirituality. And when you dance with somebody, it’s almost like you making love with that person spirit on the dance floor to a tempo. And I used to go this reggae spot called Trenchtown and it was like going to church. It was my church. It was my release. It was also a spiritual release because I would always find one sister and would dance with her. And I just want to bring that feeling back to partying and enjoying an evening but with blackness of all blackness in general. Trenchtown used to have a black light. I think melanin and black light is just so fucking awesome.
Q: In your humble opinion, what is the most important thing about sex?
A: The electricity. The chemical reaction.
Q: Do you think that what frightens us (humans), we find the most attractive?
A: No doubt. We call gravitate towards things that we fear. It’s natural. It’s the natural way of things.
Q: What is Mississippi Mud?
A: Mississippi Mud is a black experience. An erotic, black sexual experience. It’s artistic expression and erotic art exhibition. It’s a party. It’s a mixture of spirituality, art and raunchiness.
Q: How has our sense of sexuality been stolen from us? Or better yet held captive?
A: I was always interested in amateur porn when I was younger and it was because of the innocence of the individuals having the sex. It seems more innocent and natural. One time looked up African sex rituals on YouTube and one of the rituals involved sex and it was a marriage between two of the people that lived in the village. And I thought it was so interesting that how did we get to the point where we are now from seeing it as a spiritual ritual that kind of brought to people together in the community, because it was a public thing. It wasn’t like it was some odd freaky taboo. Now, black sex is category in porn. We have been placed into a box, made into a fetish; made into a zoo. We’ve been made into something that every culture exploits. Every culture exploits black sexuality except black, we don’t distribute our own sex. We don’t distribute our own erotic energy. We don’t have control over our base chakra.
Q: What do you expect to accomplish on the 26th of December, with Mississippi Mud?
A: I will raise the consciousness of our people to fact that we need to unify holistically with each other and with who we are.
Q: Why is being of African descent potentially dangerous with regards to fetishes?
A: Because we were slaves and sold as sex slaves and that’s something that is traumatic in our memory. So, when you think of black sex, it’s kind of like don’t speak on that. We can talk about white sex and it’s acceptable but when you start talking about black sex is like WAIT A MINUTE put your dick away!
Q: How has history proven the presence of this danger?
A: Well, presently this year we’ve had 500 rapes in Detroit, Michigan. That means almost on and half women are raped a day. So, there’s something wrong. That’s an alarming rate, this is something we’re going to talk about at Mississippi Mud. It’s a sexual health exhibition as well, we’re going to give out information because we are affected sexually in the African American community on a crisis level, as far as HIV/AIDS rates, rape cases, sexual predators. We have a ridiculous problem with that. It needs to be addressed.
Q: Finish this sentence, if our love was free…
A: We would be free.
Q: Can blackness be defined?
A: Blackness is the definition.
Q: Who gains from shaming or perverting black sexuality?
A: The powers that be.
Q: One can argue that sex is sex, what so different about sexuality and Africans?
A: Our love is big. Our love is wet. Our love is tight. Our love is thick. Our love is natural. Our love is animalistic. Our love is hot. Our is godly. It’s supreme.
Q: Aspects of black sexuality is easily objectified, what isn’t it celebrated more?
A: We’re ashamed.
Q: What does this celebration look like to you?
A: Dope music, good food, beautiful people, great energy, unity, laughter, deep thought, triple darkness, glossy, unrefined, elegance.
Q: What does it sound like?
A: It sounds like…it must sound like what Beethoven heard.
Q: Who has sonically made the best song that visually makes you feel sex?
A: Mmm…That is a hard one. Maxwell.
Q: Any song in particular?
A: “Submerge: Til We Become the Sun.”
Q: How do we take ownership of something so delicate as  exchanging energy?
A: Living ourselves and learning how to love ourselves. Most people don’t even know how to masturbate, which is the first step to loving yourself–knowing how to make yourself have an orgasm. And that keeps you out of a lot of trouble. Sometimes we make mistakes based on our carnal energy, our base energy. We kind of let that govern us because we don’t have control of how we love ourselves. And when we don’t know how to love ourselves, we think we’re supposed to get it from someone else. And that kind of leads us into lives and worlds and shit that we wouldn’t normally do but because we’re thirsty or uncontrolled in our base, our natural selves.
Q: What will solidify Mississippi Mud’s success, in your eyes?
A: It’s already a success. It was a success when I thought about it.
Q: How important is it for black love, sex, and erotica to be portrayed honestly?
A: It’s extremely important. It’s who we are. It’s who we are. We are sexual beings. We’re creators, that’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s what we’ve been doing. That’s why it’s so many of us on Earth. The Sun doesn’t set on an African and that’s because we reproduce. Black people are everywhere.
Q: Is it power, that they are afraid of?
A: Definitely. Blackness has always been scary. Darkness has always been scary.
Q: Who are they?
A: Those that are not at peace with being dark or from the darkness.
Q: Has there been any conflicted concerns since the announcement of the event?
A: Yea, plenty of people have. It’s caught a lot of controversy from different friends, different people. I’ve been in a liquor store and heard people talking about it and some people where feeling it, others weren’t. I just listened.
Q: Do you think that their concerns were valid?
A: Yea, definitely. Sex is powerful and if it’s not in an environment that is conducive for its energy, it can potentially wreak havoc by those that are viewing it. That’s why parental advisory are on things that are of explicit content. Explicit content can be damaging to the wrong viewers, someone that is not ready for that.
Q: How do you get ready for something like that?
A: You’re not. You just have to make a choice. Love is a choice. Sex is a choice. We all made it. Sometimes it’s taken away from us and that’s another aspect of it. Some people don’t have a choice. It’s taken away from them and that concerns me as well.
Q: What positive struggles have you had to solve to make Mississippi Mud a reality?
A: Making sure it’s received right and I make it palatable and elegant without losing the rawness of it.
Q: What would you like to say to your supporters?
A: Thank you and I feel like I’m living a dream made possible by them.
Q: Describe Mississippi Mud in three words only.
A: In the beginning.
Q: Does the word freak have a negative connotation?
A: Yea, no one wants be a freak anymore. But everybody still freaks. Everybody’s a shame of being a freak because of the stigma that’s attached to it. But normally when people say it, they associate slut, all those negative things; whore. You know! Who’s a whore? Who’s not a whore?
Q: So, do you think it’s hard to be a freak if you’re a woman?
A: I think women are the biggest freaks. I think they’re freakier than men. Men are so contained when it comes to sexuality, more closeted. I think men are more closeted about sex than women. Actually, I think women are more in tune with sex than men are.
Q: But normally or usually women receive most of the backlash.
A: They do. We live in a sexist society that don’t give women the space to be themselves without labeling them. That’s another thing about Mississippi Mud. I want women to feel comfortable to wear whatever they want wear and know that they are safe. That they can be them and be human and respected as beautiful human beings. That they don’t have to hide and be ashamed of their beauty and feel unsafe if they decide to be free with their beauty.
Q: So since there is a negative connotation, what should we call “freaks” instead?
A: I don’t think we should change it. I think freaks should be freaks. If you’re a freak, you should be happy you’re a freak. Why be ashamed, I wouldn’t care. I don’t give a fuck. I’m a freak.
Q: I mean we live in the age of slogans, catch phrases and hashtags so what should we call freaks instead?
A: Chocolate droppas. [Insert laughter here]
Q: Has these barriers  from controversy, stigma and connotations created deep spaces for lies, with regards to sex?
A: Definitely, of course.
Q: Why is “white” love swallowed easier?
A: They do it quick. Sex scenes be like *snaps fingers* [Insert uncontrollable laughter here]. God, brothas are nasty. We are filthy. And we like being filthy for our women. And our women like being filthy for us. Because behind closed doors, we know we be doing some filthy stuff, filthy.
Q: Can sex be godly?
A: Sex is godly. No sex, nobody. If there is no sex, there is nobody. That’s what God is.
Q: Who are you?                                                                                                                                            A: “SHANGO. African Storm God. Also known as CHANGO, XANGO, the syncopated Spirit of Thunder, Drums and Dance. He was long ago elevated to the ORISHAS after a glorious career as fourth King and warrior hero of the Yoruba. Now he bangs the drum for his people and      plays rolling rhythms on his storm clouds. When thunder is heard, you should salute him by crying ‘Cabio Sile Shango’, or words to that effect. SHANGO leads a full red blooded life and likes to party. He is in great demand as a drummer and his dancing talents cause severe outbreaks of funkiness wherever perpetrated. His special Feast Day is 4th of December and during this time he has a piper employed to play all the latest hits. His special number is six, and his favorite colors are red and white. He likes animals, particularly dogs. He also favors roosters and turtles, although we think these are more for eating than companionship. If you invite him to a feast you will need to stock up on bananas, apples, cornmeal, okra, red wine and rum. Very much the ladies’ man, SHANGO does have a relationship with OYA which can at times get pretty tempestuous. He does not get on well with his brother OGUN and is not averse to a good punch-up. But on the whole he’s a great God to have on your side as he is loyal, protective and — as far as [I’m] concerned — extremely groovy.” Some call me Ben Jones.




Don’t Take Her Choice Away


Painting by Annie Lee

*Disclaimer: This critique was written before the domestic TERRORIST attack on a Colorado Spring’s Planned Parenthood. This critique is a direct response to the “Scandal” episode, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” that aired November 19, 2015. May justice be served. 

Abstain and there is no need for abortions. The world loves to think that us women aint sexual beings, just ripe enough for their picking. Olivia got an abortion and Fitz once again spoke about his sacrifices. He doesn’t know about it. He didn’t know about Mellie’s rape either. Yet, he’s maintained his sacrificial superiority for five seasons. How many men refuse to look in the mirror only to repeat the same mistakes with a new woman?

This critique is not about religion. It’s not about if it’s wrong or right. It’s not even about conspiracy. It is about women, women having to sacrifice silently. It’s about how the world thinks that those chosen to bring forth life are ill-equipped to have an ounce of authority over their uteruses. Let’s talk about the mommy whisperers of child birth. How it’s so beautiful (up until the moment you’re screaming because you’re pissed at God) and its what makes us women. How about people knowing what God prefers. What exactly has Fitz sacrificed again? This critique is about those shoe boxes we bury in backyards. It’s about rape culture. It’s about a one minute long scene about abortion and women everywhere unanimously shaking our heads in understanding, holding that last sips of wine—letting it burn a little.

Thankfully, I haven’t had to rack my brain, weigh the pros and cons about having to make a decision about an actual life, having to make deals with the universe—but I know women who have, and it ain’t no crystal stare—often times it hunts you. Hell, I’ve probably even said some insensitive shit because of my young, idealistic naiveté. I know women who’ve lost children before they’ve had fingers and the pain that lingers. I’ve gotten drunken phone calls of despair at 4 o’clock in the morning. I know women who’ve had painful pregnancies and weathered through. I know women that has given birth prematurely. Marissa Alexander was wrongfully incarcerated and separated from her premature baby that was still accustomed to breast milk. Those bouts of unsympathetic cogitation women receive for frequenting the hospital when something seems wrong with their unborn child. I know women who can’t move during menstruation. I know women who can’t have children that are supreme nurturers. I know women who have seven 7 children and 20 grandchildren. I know politicians who don’t give a shit. There are countless women who risk their lives despite the perils that may ensue in the event of full term pregnancy.

This episode had plenty of character quirks worth mentioning, this stood out because let’s face it ABC is not cable. The opening scene of scotch and decisions set the stage. I loved that “Silent Night” played during the abortion scene. That song has always been morbid and sonically unpleasant. Olivia realized her elation with Fitz was that she didn’t have to be his everything.

This episode on the surface was about Planned Parenthood. But below the deck it was about a women’s choice and power. Exquisitely, shading the guilt bestowed upon us by men with God complexes; despite our ability to bring forth life and nurture it. Choice and courage is why I think she left.

My critique is no uterus is the same, thus no woman is identical either. And in less than five minutes Shonda Rhimes and her team of writers on “Scandal” manage to display what many women have chosen to do, for a number of reasons that don’t deserve your opinion.

We’re all still waiting for Liv to be satisfied.

The Monsters You’ve Created: Still “Lifting & Climbing”

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There’s no yoga mantra, African proverb or respectability politics that serves properly when a black woman is fighting the systems of patriarchy and white feminism.

I didn’t watch the VMA’s last night. Hell, I haven’t watched them in about 12 years. I did read The Atlantic Stephen Kornhaber’s article “Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, and the VMAs: A Tone-Policing Palooza,” which led to me watching the video and reading the preceding The New York Times Miley Cyrus Q&A with Joe Coscarelli. It’s not just about tone, it’s about being malleable enough to assimilate.

Palooza is a stretch. The use of words like terrorism, scuffle or thug when referencing isolated moments involving blacks is tiresome. Onika was straightforward and “they” can’t have that. Let’s continuously label her ANGRY to discredit her feelings or burdens. Perhaps it was just an unnecessary use of alliteration.

Miley Cyrus, the 22-year-old entertainer of sorts, took it upon herself to publicly correct, Nicki Minaj, 32-year-old entertainer of sorts, by dismissively attempting to address Minaj’s concerns about cultural appropriation and the manner to which she discussed her problems with MTV’s VMA nominations.

Miley first acts as if she doesn’t even know what Coscarelli is talking about. However, she then politely gives her opinion of how and why people haven’t responded or would respond to Minaj. Be nicer.

Apparently, there is a way to talk to people and anger is not to be respected. If I press my foot on someone’s throat for an extended period of time, I don’t expect the victim/abused to ask me nicely to remove my foot. I expect them to grab me by the leg and inflict bodily harm. Structurally speaking, dismantle the system that enforces oppression.

Some think that Nicki Minaj should have ignored Miley Cyrus. The symbolisms of this exchange is so blatant and seemingly rehearsed in white Hollywood or requirements to be a feminist that I applaud Minaj for responding in a “All About the Benjamin’s” type of way. Others think that it was awkward and lacked solidarity because Rebel Wilson was to her left in her sardonic police brutality costume. Some question why Kanye or Nicki Minaj was even present while many know that answer to this question. Most don’t care.

It’s the latter that concerns me. Where is our support? Why must Nicki Minaj walk throughout her career with her hand covering her mouth unless she’s in the booth? Does the amount of clothes a woman wears dictate whether she gets to have a voice or not?

Too often the binaries leave black woman silenced. How do you expect me to handle my queen shit when you keep reducing my strength as a fleeting, powerless emotion? Why are my struggles so invincible, when my adversary is a white woman?

The idea that the complexity that is the human can be cookie cut into a singular dimension of emotions or trait is a mockery of the magnificence of our Creator—marginalization is a form of supremacy. I can’t understand why anyone would believe that descendants of Africa, the mother of all civilizations, would think they are one dimensional in thought or action.

Police brutality is a serious issue and cannot be glossed over or solved by a movie and its popular moniker; lest we forget the misogynistic, abusive and predatory overtones of NWA (and yes of Hip Hop). You will not attempt to muffle my feminine power and get a pass. No one expects a man to be quiet.

Kanye responds how he wants. Chris Brown responds how he wants. Dame Dash responds how he wants. Even “Ari Gold” responds how he wants, with little to no consequence or critique but with much applause. I would have loved for Nicki to have had a “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t” moment and said something short and sweet like ‘I’m accepting this award on behalf of black girl magic everywhere. Black lives matter.”

But I’m not her and I don’t know the crosses she bears. It definitely would’ve reminded Miley that her persona is about as organic as her blonde, faux locs and made Rebel Wilson think twice about insensitivity, witlessness, timing and delivery. It seems trivial, but this shit adds up. Once accumulated, it’s like consistently stubbing your toe on your grandmother’s coffee table. The one she refuses to move.

There is no revolution without the black woman rather she shows her ass, rocks a gele, or draped in a hijab/chador/burka/niqab, likes weaves instead of natural or bears children. You don’t get to define us. She does. And our definitions don’t exclude your responsibilities.

Serena is a gawd.


“Society” has got things twisted: water recalls for potential E. coli contamination; real outrage over the symbolic removal of a loser flag (just one of them); the preposterous, lengthy due process for a terrorist who confessed to his crimes; cyber hacks that refuse to delete outstanding student loans; phallic leaks that are never in our fantasies and lastly an article released seventeen hours ago by a New York newspaper.

The article is about body image. What a girl, what a woman should look like. And it’s written by a man. The quiet insinuation is that Serena does not deserve her win because she’s too athletic, built like a man. The appropriation in the article is silly.

“Because I’m a girl” or “because, first of all, she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman.” The implications that Serena is not a woman and was not a girl are so disrespectful. The talking about her without talking about her is cowardice. It’s ugly “journalism.”

This perverted world better wipe off its rose-colored lenses and realized its concept of beauty is defunct. No woman is the same. No athlete is the same, man or woman. Your hollow definition of femininity can’t even begin to encapsulate the voluminosity that is the black woman.

Don’t believe me check the shadows and selfies of the Kardashian sisters. Reference Rachel Dolezal. How about this, you stay lily white and she’ll be the ebony bombshell that you envy for more than her agility.

This is what I know. Serena Williams is a walking inspiration. She demonstrates great integrity and sportswomanship. It is clear that she trains and works hard so that when the day comes to compete she’s prepared. The idea that this little girl from Compton could set goals and accomplish them in ways unfathomable to those on the other side of the fence; is to be commended, celebrated, and honored.

The world is afraid of that kind of dominance. It’s why First Lady Michelle Obama doesn’t receive the respect that she deserves. It’s why Oprah still runs into feats of racism. The world is afraid of a black woman that has her shit together.  Society is terrified of a black woman that is unapologetically fierce. The world is frightened of a black woman that loves herself. So, it beats her up, calls her out of her name and refuses to give her props without inapt think pieces. As if Serena is some science project that’s infiltrating the tennis world.

I can’t because she’s real.  Her curves are real. Her strength is real. It’s not even about being better or your acceptance. It’s about silence. Be quiet. The intent of the article was mostly likely not malicious, however, the execution was elementary at best. The idea that you can address the insecurities of body image by comparing women body shapes to one another is ignorant. Discussing exercise regimen, nutrition and self-love would have been a more sound approach—even then, that’s not enough because women are consistently bombarded with unrealistic expectations and patriarchal media fed desires. Fitness is key and each player has their own personal requirements. Their own personal best.

Real recognize real. If you can’t see Serena Williams for what she is, maybe you’re fraudulent.

Goddess. Beast mode. G’d up. Force to be reckoned with. Black woman magic.

We see you, Serena! Shine on!



Dear Lupe Fiasco,

Why aren’t you shielding Azealia Banks? Is it because her English is too broken? Is it because she chose to raise her spears up toward her arch nemesis, your forbidden fruit? These are the questions I asked myself as I listened to “Mural,” with an ear that has been chasing an orgasm since “The Cool.”

I listened to that track, my soul felt full. It was the feeling it had as my sisters and I dropped everything to experience you in concert, adjacent from the Fisher Building years ago. We bobbed our heads and recited lyrics like scriptures with babies sitting on our shoulders. I had hoped for a long and prosperous relationship. I’m still waiting on Gemini to drop; no lie. Still.

A curse of the Hip Hop community is the debate of relevance and lyricism. Most of us have fallen into the trap of counting if said bank account has more than several zeros in front the decimal point. Oddly, given the fact, that Hip Hop arose out of the silence, brought on by societal, generational ills. POVERTY. But somehow, now if you ain’t got no money, inherently you should know to shut the F up. The irony of the creator of “Bitch Bad” referring to a young, black woman as an emotional bitch is oxymoronic. As humans, we’re layered. We’re like onions. You can hate liars and still be a cheater. Such is the complexity. But he has little sisters. That’s what he told Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg, when discussing the creation of the song. Are complexities defined by being unlike Farrakhan?

Firstly, the idea that one should be emotionless or that there is a minimum of emotion one should exert in spite of the classification of being human is absurd. Often times affection is slung around during an altercation with a woman to utterly and completely dismiss any thoughts of hers. Secondly, to believe that woman’s ability to express her emotions is anything other than her strength is preposterous. Lastly, to add that antiquated defense mechanism to virtual perpetuity is an exercise in futility.

The royal mistake, that many artists make, is that they discuss their differences and concerns on social media.  There are some great debaters, however, intention is often more debatable than the subject at hand. Given even the most talented learns a good jig, was such a conversation instigated solely to manipulate records sales? If the purpose is genuine, it would be nice if Lupe Fiasco and Azealia Banks could converse with each other offline with a candy dish full of liquorice. Thus, creating a platform for partnership to which Lupe the older cat can assist Azealia Banks in spreading the knowledge to her generation. You might find Azealia Banks picture next to the word braggadocio but she got mad flow with sublime originality.

Lupe’s album dropped on January 20, 2015. The first track I listened to was “Mural” and I thought Jesas; yes, this is what I’ve been waiting to, here again. The two should collaborate. That sort of high caliber of Hip Hop is worth arguing about, is worth mending fences for. Honestly, I believe ever word of “delivery” and “Haile Selassie,” so much that a duet would be application at its finest.

To the naked eye, it’s loud, emotional, spicy, mean and reckless. It’s a shaky process. Not to mention there is something that is birthed once the veil has been lifted. Whatever you want to call it, Azealia Banks has it.

Just in case you think I’m a Lupe hater, I wrote this review in 2008.

I just wish we had more allies.

John Legend & Common “Glory”

Glory: it will be ours.


There’s something unnerving and all too familiar about the way Ava DuVernay manages to capture the supposed intimate moments between Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, in “Selma.” Who of us have not had those sad yet all too real, gut-wrenching conversations with said black man as a black woman? Not necessarily one’s prompted by the FBI attempting to assassinate your character long before they leave you for dead; but the conversations when nervous laughter brought on by the comfort of humor when discussing the inevitability of death in the African American community.

One’s death is not necessarily always honorable, of martyrdom or “taken by hatred.” Unfortunately, survival is not always obtained through righteous means. These are my initial thoughts, within the first 26 minutes of the film. We’re so acquainted with death regardless of its non-discriminatory nature—us darker in hue. There’s an uneasiness the black women have as her man/husband/lover walks out of the door. No different than the anxiety she feels as her sons, her uncles, father or any other male relative or friend does the same. These days such angst is heightened because of the all telling, immediate nature of social media. I’ve always questioned, how did Coretta do it with such grace? DuVernay has profoundly illustrated not only the fear that taunts but also the strength of the black woman. Her part in the civil rights movement, her full body, mind, and spirit on the front lines by highlighting the roles of Diane Nash (Tessa Thompson) and Amelia Boyton (Lorraine Toussaint). The conversation between Amelia and Coretta before Coretta is to speak with Malcolm X spoke best to those that are tired of such movies about slavery, about the Civil Rights era. It is important to know that, to teach that we survived our story, our lives because of whence we came. Boyton explains to Coretta that she’s ready because of our heritage, our lineage. “[We] are already prepared.”

DuVernay did a very good job of showing how often the young’uns clashed with the old folk and the old folks bumped heads with the youths. The conversations between SNCC member’s, John Lewis (Stephan James) and James Forman (Trai Bryer) showed a difference in thought much like that of King and X. However, after Bloody Sunday it was clear that all ideologies led to the same river. DuVernay had a keen eye at authenticating the joint efforts of the Civil Rights era, as well the march in Selma. It is often overshadowed by King’s notoriety. There are key scenes with Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Civil Rights attorney Fred Gray, André Holland as Andrew Young. Other noteworthy and instrumental individuals are James Bevel (Common), Ralph Abernathy (Colman Domingo), Cager Lee (Henry G. Sanders), Jimmie Lee Jackson (Keith Stanfield), Bayard Rustin (Ruben Santiago-Hudson), Richie Jean Jackson (Niecy Nash), James Orange (Omar J. Dorsey), Viola Liuzzo and Annie Lee Cooper. Cooper played by none other than Oprah Winfrey. Historically, she is known as for standing up to Sheriff Jim Clark by punching him after Clark billy clubbed her in the neck. Aisha Coley brilliantly selected Nigel Thatcher as the movie’s Malcolm X. David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo are seamless to the spirits of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King.

I can’t help but think of how the marchers felt when the troopers withdrew on the second day out, the day before the white clergymen and others joined the march in solidarity. DuVernay answered my questions with the next scene. I love directors that are in tuned with the simplicity of human nature and the complexity of the human mind. She clearly studies the human condition and offers an honest assessment. What I have learned from Ava DuVernay’s visualization of yesterday is that steadfast knows no age or generation. If you want freedom, one cannot allow fear or danger to keep you hidden in atrophy—and then, call that life. They assassinated Malcolm X because he empowered us. He was for the betterment of black folks. But it is clear now (to me) that they assassinated Dr. King because he had the power to persuade others that we too, are humans. “Our society has distorted who we are.”

It can be argued that Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) was chosen as President Kennedy’s running mate, solely to pacify the South. Before July 14, 1960, Kennedy and Johnson were rivals. Johnson was from Texas. Johnson became President after the untimely and tragic death of the president. Johnson didn’t have Robert F. Kennedy, a forward thinker, as a brother or campaign manager. “Prejudice exists and probably will continue to … but we have tried to make progress and we are making progress. We are not going to accept the status quo,” Bobby said in 1968. Thus, Johnson’s sluggish haste toward inaction is understandable. It also forced his hand and gave those in the trenches renewed diligence. Progress must be taken because it is not guaranteed.  This movie is relevant because those marches are still happening, confronting many ills. Sadly, much hasn’t changed. That’s what Ava sees, at least I think so.

Do they ever wonder what it must feel like to have to prove you are human too?

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