Grammys 2014: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Royals for a Night

Grammys 2014: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Royals for a Night

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the Seattle duo that has spent the last year upending the rules about how hip-hop interacts with mainstream pop, won four Grammys on Sunday night, for best new artist and in three rap categories: best performance and best song for Thrift Shop and best album for The Heist.

Of all the moments that have startled awards-show viewers over the years, none matches the mass marriage on Sunday night’s Grammys. No others made anything close to this bold a statement on an issue that has been engaging so much of the world in an emotional, political and theological debate. By including same-gender couples in this ceremony, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences declared that marriage is marriage, regardless of gender.

The night’s most cathartic moment was the group marriage: Queen Latifah married 33 straight and same-sex couples during a performance of Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, along with singers Mary Lambert and iconic pop-star Madonna.

A full list of winners at the 56th annual Grammy Awards can be found in The New York Times here.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, feat. Mary Lambert: “Same Love”

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Queen Latifah and Madonna: “Same Love”

2013 in Review: A Landmark Year for Gay Rights

2013 in Review: A Landmark Year for Gay Rights

A Landmark Year for Gay Rights: Edie Windsor, Robbie Rogers, and Jason Collins helped make 2013 a historic year for gay rights.

2013 in Review: A Landmark Year for Gay Rights

Nelson Mandela: South African Prisoner, Liberator and Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 95

Nelson Mandela: South African Prisoner, Liberator and Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 95

Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa and served as his country’s first black President, becoming an international emblem of dignity and forbearance, died Thursday night at the age of 95.

Mr. Mandela’s quest for freedom took him from the court of tribal royalty, to the liberation underground, to a prison rock quarry, to the presidential suite of Africa’s richest country. When his first term in office was up, he declined a second term and cheerfully handed over power to an elected successor, the country still gnawed by crime, poverty, corruption and disease, but a democracy, respected in the world and remarkably at peace.

Mr. Mandela overcame a personal mistrust bordering on loathing to share both power and a Nobel Peace Prize with the white president who preceded him, F. W. de Klerk. And as president, from 1994 to 1999, he devoted much energy to moderating the bitterness of his black electorate and to reassuring whites with fears of vengeance. When the question was put to Mr. Mandela in an interview in 2007: “After such barbarous torment, how do you keep hatred in check?” His answer was almost dismissive: “Hating clouds the mind. It gets in the way of strategy. Leaders cannot afford to hate.

Read more about Nelson Mandela in the New York Times here.

Nelson Mandela Dies at 95: South Africa’s First Black President Remembered

The World Celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday

Mandela’s Campaign Against South African Apartheid

On August 5th, 1962, Nelson Mandela was arrested after living in underground hiding for seventeen months, and was initially imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. He was imprisoned after being charged with involvement in planning armed action and a conspiracy to help other countries invade South Africa. The arrest was made possible because the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tipped off South African security police as to Mandela’s whereabouts and disguise. Mandela was later imprisoned on Robben Island, where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison.

In March 1982, Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, in part to enable discreet contact between him and the South African government. In 1990, State President F.W. de Klerk reversed the ban on anti-apartheid organizations, and announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison. Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl on February 11th, 1990, an event that was broadcast live all over the world.

South Africa’s first multi-racial elections were held on April 27th, 1994. The African National Congress won 62% of the votes in the election, and Mandela, as leader of the ANC, was inaugurated on May 10th, 1994, as the country’s first Black President, with the National Party’s de Klerk as his first deputy. As President from 1994 until 1999, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid, winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation.

Mandela’s leadership was recognized when he was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

Mandela’s London Arrival for the Birthday Celebrations

Nelson Mandela arrived in London on Monday, June 23rd, 2008, for a week of events to celebrate his 90th birthday. Mandela met with Queen Elizabeth II, as well as with a number of other high-profile celebrities who included Gordon Brown, the former U.S. president Bill Clinton and the talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. The outdoor concert in honor of the former South African President was scheduled to take place at Hyde Park, London, on Friday, June 29th, with performers including Amy Winehouse, Josh Groban, Annie Lennox, Leona Lewis, Queen and the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Celebrating Mandela’s 90th Birthday: The 90th Birthday Concert

40,000 Fans Pay Tribute to Mandela

Will Smith charmed the huge 90th Birthday Concert crowd, and Amy Winehouse wowed them with her performance. However, Nelson Mandela proved to be the biggest star of all at the concert Friday in honor of the South African statesman’s 90th birthday.

Acts including Queen, Razorlight, Leona Lewis and a host of African stars joined more than 40,000 music fans for the outdoor show in London’s Hyde Park. Josh Groban and the Soweto Gospel Choir also performed at the event, which came 20 years after a 70th birthday concert for an absent Mandela at London’s Wembley Stadium. Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist, had at that point been imprisoned in South Africa for 25 years. He told Friday’s crowd that that concert made a big difference in his eventual release and the fight against the racist system, which was dismantled in the early 1990s.

Your voices carried across the water to inspire us in our prison cells far away,” said Mandela, who received the biggest cheers of the night. “We are honored to be back in London for this wonderful celebration.”

But even as we celebrate, let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete.”

Amy Winehouse Performs: Mandela’s 90th Birthday Concert

Josh Groban Performs at the Birthday Concert

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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” Wins 2013 VMA Award

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” Wins 2013 VMA Award

Same Love won Best Video with A Social Message at the 2013 Video Music Awards. Same Love, by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, was the perfect anthem for DOMA’s defeat. The equality anthem took society (and hip-hop music) to task for their homophobic stances. The song became the unofficial anthem for the Referendum 74 campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington (a measure that passed in November), a genuine Top 40 hit on radio and then witnessed history when the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” Wins 2013 VMA Award

 

Chicago’s 2013 Pride Parade: More Than 1 Million March for Marriage Equality

Chicago’s 2013 Pride Parade: More Than 1 Million March for Marriage Equality

Sunday’s Pride Parade on Chicago’s North Side, always a big festivity, fell at a time when the LGBT community is counting its victories in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage. On a perfect summer day, Chicago’s gay community celebrated the best way it knows: loudly, colorfully and with great flair. Thousands lined the streets of Uptown and Lakeview for the 44th annual Pride Parade, as it moved down Broadway and Halsted streets, a joyful revelry that took on new meaning in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act last week

In major victories for the human rights movement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday had ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case on Prop 8 from California, effectively allowed same-sex marriages there. By clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow it.

Chicago’s 2013 Pride Parade: More Than 1 Million March for Marriage Equality

Chicago Pride Parade 2013

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: Same Love

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The 2013 Gay Pride: Supreme Court’s Historic Rulings Support Gay Marriage

The 2013 Gay Pride: Supreme Court’s Historic Rulings Support Gay Marriage

In major victories for the human rights movement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case on Prop 8 from California, effectively allowed same-sex marriages there. By clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow it.

In the hushed courtroom Wednesday morning, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced the majority opinion that struck down the federal law in a stately tone indicating he was delivering a civil rights landmark. The vote in the case striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act was 5 to 4, and Justice Kennedy was joined by the four members of the court’s liberal wing. The ruling will immediately extend many benefits to couples married in the states that allow such unions, and it will allow the Obama administration to broaden other benefits through executive actions.

The case concerning California’s ban on same-sex marriage, enacted in a ballot initiative known as Proposition 8, was decided on technical grounds, with the majority saying that it was not properly before the court. Because officials in California had declined to appeal a trial court’s decision against them, and because the proponents of the ban were not entitled to step into the state’s shoes to appeal the decision, the court said, it was powerless to issue a decision. That left in place a trial court victory for two same-sex couples who had sought to marry.

Read more about the Supreme Court’s decisions in the New York Times here.

Read more about the Supreme Court’s Prop 8 decision in the Los Angeles Times here.

Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage Rights

Supreme Court Rulings Spur Celebrations Among Gay Marriage Supporters

Gay Pride Month: Celebrating Loving Feelings for Others

It’s the Dream Afraid of Waking,
That Never Takes a Chance
.”

Harvey Milk: You’ve Got to Give Them Hope

Before there was this year’s Academy Awards celebrated Milk, there was the widely acclaimed The Times of Harvey Milk, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film in 1984, and was awarded The Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, among other awards. The documentary chronicles the political career of Harvey Milk, who was San Francisco’s first openly gay elected Board Supervisor. The film, at times humorous, at times nostalgic, and at other times quite tragic, tells the story of Harvey Milk’s rise to political power and emergence as a symbol of gay political achievement.

The Times of Harvey Milk documents through assembled historic film clips the tumultuous story of Milk’s grass-roots political organizing and election, through the shocking murders and their repercussions. It takes the film’s viewers along with the eloquent candle-light memorial joined by tens of thousands of San Franciscans on the evening of the assassinations, to the scenes of angry crowds who stormed San Francisco’s City Hall in the aftermath of the lenient sentence that Dan White received at his murder trial.

This Academy Award-winning documentary feature film depicts not only Harvey Milk himself, but also the political and social milieu of the era in which he lived. From this perspective, the film continues to have significant relevance for our nation today, standing as a classic portrait of communities and cultural values in severe conflict. The film was produced subsequent to Harvey Milk’s death using archival footage, so that Milk is credited posthumously as the lead actor. Other politicians, including San Francisco’s then-mayor George Moscone (who was assassinated along with Milk) and Moscone’s successor and now United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, also appear in the archival footage. Also featured in the film is then-schoolteacher Tom Ammiano, who has been a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors since 1994, and was elected to the California State Assembly. The film’s outstanding narration is provided by the acclaimed stage and screen actor Harvey Fierstein, who at that time had just achieved great success with his own Tony Award-winning Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy.

The Times of Harvey Milk: The Full Version of the Documentary

Slide Show:The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

(Please Click on Image Above to View Slide Show)

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“Searching for Sugar Man,” Story of Musician Sixto Rodriguez, Wins Oscar for Best Documentary

Sixto Rodriguez: The Powerful Music of a Deeply Good Man

Searching for Sugar Man found an Oscar on Sunday night. The film, which traces the strange, almost unbelievable tale of Detroit folk musician Sixto Rodriguez from obscurity to international success, largely without his knowing, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film at Sunday’s 85th Academy Awards. Rodriguez, 70, was not at the ceremony, “because he didn’t want to take any of the credit himself,” producer Simon Chinn explained from the Oscar stage while accepting the award. “And that just about says everything about that man and his story that you want to know.”

Searching for Sugar Man is a 2012 Swedish/British documentary directed by Malik Bendjelloul, which follows the efforts of two Cape Town fans, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, to find out whether the rumored death of Rodriguez was true, and, if not, to discover what had become of him. Previously, the film won the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best International Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Durban International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Melbourne Film Festival. Malik Bendjelloul won the 2013 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary for Searching for Sugar Man.

The film tells the magical story of a gifted singer-songwriter from Detroit, who was an enigmatic mystery. His face half-hidden by long flowing hair and dark glasses, he sang in smoke-filled folk music bars, often with his back turned to the audience. His name was Sixto Rodriguez. In the late 1960′s, Rodriguez was so good that with neither fame nor a large fan base, he signed a two-album contract with Sussex and A&R Records. The first album, Cold Fact, got a rare four-star review from Billboard Magazine. However, neither it nor his second album, Coming From Reality, sold well, the contract was dropped and the story seemed to end there.

Nothing else was heard from Sixto Rodriguez. But several years later, his albums traveled half-way around the world, to Cape Town, South Africa, where bootleg copies passed from hand to hand and his songs became the storied anthems of the anti-apartheid movement. When an indie record store owner named Stephen Segerman released them commercially, they took off, the first selling 500,000 copies, which in that nation was comparable to the Beatles or Elvis Presley.

Searching for Sugar Man: The Official UK Trailer

Sixto Rodriguez: The Rock Icon Who Didn’t Know It

Sixty Minutes Overtime: Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez Performs “Crucify Your Mind” (David Letterman)

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