US Plastic Artist Exhibits in Cuba

escambray today, ben jones, plastic art, us plastic artists, american plastic artists

In 2014, Jones coordinated for the National Museum of Fine Arts the exhibition entitled Afro-American Artists and Abstraction. (Photo taken from plenglish.com)

Ben Jones lives in New Jersey and participated years ago in three collective shows in Havana and shared presentations with local musicians

US plastic artist Ben Jones expressed his dissatisfaction with the stance of US President Donald Trump, opposed to enhance relations between his country and Cuba, where he’s presenting a personal exhibition.

Most US citizens don’t like him, said the artist who recently arrived in Havana with some of his works that on exhibit at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, from July 21 to October 23, in the Transitional Hall of the Fourth level of the Universal Art Building.

Jones thinks that many of Trump’s voters are very racist and barely care about the environment, interested only about money, and do not want to accept that the world has changed.

Several doors between the United States and Cuba have been opened since the administration of Barack Obama, most of the people of my country want to come to visit Cuba and those who have already visited this island once, have a desire to return, he said in an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina.

I always advise everyone to go to Cuba to create their own opinion about the country, said Jones, who after so many visits -from 1977 to the date- feels already like a native of the Caribbean archipelago.

The artist has many friends in the island, including eminent figures of Cuban ballet. When he was young was also a folkloric dancer and within his plastic creation he has reflected more than once his passion for Yoruba culture.

The African root becomes a common element among the peoples of the United States and Cuba, but racial discrimination in his homeland sometimes reaches violence at the highest level and the murder of innocent civilians.

In recent years, a series of incidents involving police officers has mourned more than one African-American family, Jones denounces and questions it from his art, faithful to his generation, an essential protagonist of the struggle for civil rights in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jones grew up in the time of the Vietnam War, the Black Power and the Black Panthers, whose ideas motivated the emergence of the Black Arts Movement, from which he emerged as one of the main exponents.

In 1968, he was appointed advisor to the Black Freedom Society while enriching his style with elements of Expressionism, Action painting and Pop Art, influenced by Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, exponents of this art movement.

Icons of US culture as singers Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughan and African-American activists Malcolm X and Fannie Lou, appear in Jones’ works as obeisance to personalities who imposed their talent on the unjust social order of the time when they had to live.

As he recalled, Fitzgerald, Holliday and Vaughan, three of the most beautiful voices that his country has given to the world, despite being the stars of the shows, were forced to enter the hotels through the back door, among other discriminatory measures. In addition to racial segregation, different forms of violence such as wars take human lives, without distinction of race, and disrupt the souls of those who fight them.

According to Jones, many police officers have problems in Latino and African-American neighborhoods because they were soldiers who fought in Afghanistan or Iraq and now roam the streets of the United States very tense as if they had not yet left those countries.

In addition to the traumas for racial, gender and warmonger violence, Jones’ exposition in Cuba, under the title of Resistance, aims with a critical eye also at several environmental problems, such as the oil spill in the oceans, with terrible consequences for all living beings.

The artist recalled the oil disaster caused by British Petroleum Company in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which destroyed the life of plants, fishes, birds and endangered coastal villages.

Where will the children live? What planet are we going to pass to the new generations? He asked in horror and immediately affirmed: We should and can give them a cleaner planet.

Jones’ family attended the inauguration of his first personal exhibition in Cuba, however, it should not be forgotten that this artist, who lives in New Jersey, participated years ago here in three collective shows and shared presentations with local musicians.

In 2014, Jones coordinated for the National Museum of Fine Arts the exhibition entitled Afro-American Artists and Abstraction, which was accompanied by about 80 Americans who visited art schools and art galleries in Havana.

Years ago I said: I’m going to visit Cuba, and now I just say: I’m going to visit my country, and everyone understands that I’m going to Cuba because my heart is in Cuba, he said.


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Middle Class Dreams: Can They Be Achieved?

Kevin Wilson and Gil Weinreich have published two interesting, thoughtful, and provocative posts here at S.A. on the status of the American middle class. Both find the American middle class to be in decline, and both have offered prescriptions about what to do about that. Wilson started the conversation and laid out the basic data on which their judgment is based. My 2015 book, The Education Solution, explored many of the same subjects and came to similar conclusions. You can find the citations to my data at www.the-education-solution.com . I am in basic agreement that the American middle class has not kept up economically. And I would aver in addition that its discontent has resulted in the election of the current President and in much of the gridlock in Washington.

Weinreich’s proposed solution is for Americans to have more children. A falling population, he reasons, not only makes it statistically difficult to create GDP growth but also makes it psychologically less likely that people will have the drive and optimism that have made America the envy of the world. It is a logical solution, but one that, you will see, I do not agree with.

Wilson summarizes the causes of the middle class problem this way:

Summarizing, then, it would appear that the major drivers of middle class decline have been: 1) Actual worker displacement due to globalization; 2) the steady decline of purchasing power due to inflation; 3) inequality resulting from the economic impact of the returns to labor declining as the returns to capital have climbed; and 4) distributional divergences as asymmetric rewards (“winner take all” trends) have grown, driven by educational and occupational differences between different groups. There may be some worker displacement due to automation and other technological advances, but it does not yet appear to be a major driving force in spite of popular wisdom to the contrary.

To redress these causes, Wilson argues for a number of policies, including more retraining of workers who lose their jobs, a national service program for young people to help them pay for education, and, if I read him right, higher labor rates and costs.

I also would note an irony in Wilson’s article in that he concludes by advising investors not to buy companies that are labor-intensive but to concentrate instead on those that have fewer workers. I think his investment advice is right. Company growth is more likely to come from Amazons (AZN) (fewer workers, more technology) than from Krogers (KR) (more workers, less technology). (To take an extreme example, Apple (AAPL) has about 80 times the market cap per employee as Wal-Mart (WMT).) The problem that large employers have in competing and attracting capital makes it very difficult for them to raise wages more than they have to in order to attract the talent they need—although perhaps they underestimate the quality of talent they need and would be better off paying more for better workers. Cf. here for a contrary view of employer responsibilities.

Regardless of whether Wilson and Weinreich have the right solutions, I salute them for setting the stage to discuss the fundamental question: What is government for at this point in 21st century America? Neither political party does a very good job of addressing that fundamental issue—but perhaps we should not expect coherent political science from such large aggregates of people who have constantly to compromise to keep their flocks more or less together.

The status of The American Dream

The fundamental role of American government today is to facilitate people’s ability to achieve The American Dream.

Sparing you the definitional history of The American Dream, I will simply assert that it is the opportunity of every American man and woman to achieve a comfortable lifestyle through hard work and to pass along that opportunity to their children. For many, it includes owning one’s own home or sending their children to college or living in a particular kind of neighborhood or attending a house of worship of their choice. For all, it means freedom from unnecessary coercion. Great wealth is not a necessary part of living the American Dream.

The Dream is not fundamentally comparative. It is not about keeping up with the Joneses. You do not have to be in the top X percent economically to achieve The Dream. But The Dream does change in substance over time. In 1939, the year of my birth, a television set was not a requirement. No one had one. By 1970, of course, it was a requirement. And being a materialistic society, requirements have kept pace with technological development. In that sense, The Dream is not static, even though I would argue that the basic premise has remained constant.

I guess everyone has their own idea as to the key points of The American Dream. But I hope you agree on one basic point: The American Dream is a middle class idea that is fundamentally economic in that other aspects of The Dream are not achievable without sufficient income. As a corollary, for the vast majority of Americans, sufficient income requires a job, or combination of jobs among the family, that pay a sufficient amount to achieve the basic goals. Thus, the first major public policy objective has to be about jobs.

Perhaps nostalgically, many people think The Dream was achievable in about 1970. Perhaps for some people it was. But the equivalent income in the 21st century cannot be achieved by the same means as in 1970. The world of 1970 does not exist and cannot exist. The myth of its desirable return is part of the problem because it results in a yearning/demand for a mythical—as opposed to a real—middle class. If it is to achieve The Dream, the 21st century middle class has to be substantially more educated than the middle class of 1970.

This article will focus on two things: one, how public policy could furnish the foundation for more and better jobs, and two, how class culture holds many people back from making progress toward their goals.

Public Policy and pursuit of The Dream

Most basically, government has to combine getting out of the way of business with assisting business formation and success, while at the same time affording consumers protection from over-reaching. About 70% of the U.S. economy is still personal consumption, while about 63% of Americans work, so we are consumers as much as we are workers.

Regulations designed to protect the environment or safety or to prevent fraud and overreaching are never perfect. They always could be improved, and many could be eliminated, since many overlap or have become obsolete. However, I am not one who believes that great economic strides can be made by reducing regulation. It should be attempted, but it is not a fundamental part of the solution.

Cultural aspects of the white middle class plight

I also will discuss the most controversial aspect of the white middle class plight—cultural norms and the mythical class that the current victim class wishes to create. By unflinchingly discussing these cultural norms, many readers will think me disrespectful of a large group of people “who just want to work hard and get a fair chance in life.” I am not, however, disrespectful of the people. I am only disrespectful of cultures—be they white, black or anything else—that refuse to change despite the fact they cannot succeed in the world in which we live. Those cultures, as I will discuss later in this article, retard the ability of their adherents to take advantage of even the best public policies.

That such sticky cultural indicia exist is not unusual. They are a common source of human difficulties.

Ditch the corporate income tax

U.S. public policies in the form of taxes and employment-related burdens on employers do not come close to maximizing the possibility of good jobs.

By taxing corporations instead of their stockholders, public policy puts American workers at a disadvantage. If we taxed stockholders instead of corporations, corporations would have lower costs and therefore they would have lower prices and would attract more business both domestically and internationally. That would tend to create jobs, as well as making higher wages less painful to the employers.

There are some complications in eliminating the corporate income tax for business corporations, but the complications are quite surmountable, once we have the political will. (The basic mechanism would be to tax not only dividends but also assets—cash, securities, etc.—not invested in the business—with special rules for real estate and financial companies.)

The political will can come from understanding that it is American workers who suffer most from the corporate income tax. A corporation is a juridical person, but the real parties in interest are its stockholders, and it is they who should pay the taxes. The change could be close to revenue neutral, so long as the stockholders paid at ordinary income rates. That would be fair and would not deprive corporations of capital because tax incentives for investment are not needed.

Clearing away the corporate income tax will make American businesses stronger because they will finance themselves more with equity and less with debt, the two then being on a par from a tax point of view. Businesses go bankrupt by not repaying debt; they do not have to repay equity. And that will make a significant difference in the depth of recessions, which will be less burdened by bankruptcies and the layoffs that are attendant to them.

Democrats hate the idea of eliminating the corporate income tax. But it is the right thing to do for American workers. Democrats should get over that aspect of their catechism. (Something Republicans hate is coming up next. Both need to give up a part of their false beliefs.)

Reduce the burden on employers hiring additional employees

Our laws burden employment with many things, including health care costs and unemployment insurance, both of which should be paid from more general taxes in order to make it more attractive to hire workers.

Get employers out of the health care business

The biggest non-wage cost of hiring is health care. Health care began to be paid by employers because it was deductible to them but not to employees. Obamacare exacerbated the situation by including the employer mandate for companies with over 50 employees.

“To keep up with the rising cost of health care in the U.S., employers doubled their spending on health care as a percentage of employees’ pay, from 5.7 percent in 2001 to 11.5 percent in 2015,” Ben Steverman reported on Bloomberg.com. The private insurance system did not keep health care costs in line for employers, who have both the clout and the incentive to do so. We need a better system.

A solution begins to come into view when we remove deductibility for employers (if they pay no taxes, they have no deductions).

As an alternative, we could make health care deductible for everyone. But that would be regressive taxation and would exacerbate inequality. We should not go there. We could continue to rely on insurance companies and individual purchases, with subsidies for those who cannot afford a specified level of care. That is about what Obamacare did and what both the House and Senate bills of 2017 would do, and almost no one likes the way it works.

But what Obamacare has accomplished—and it is a signal accomplishment—is that it has shown the American people that health care—at least up to some point—should be available to every American. That is the reason that Republicans really have not proposed repeal and why even the tinkering with various ways to reduce health care subsidies has been unable to pass Congress.

The obvious solution—one that most Republicans hate but that is nevertheless the right solution for everyone—is a single payer system that provides coverage up to a specified set of points, with people free to purchase additional coverage to serve them beyond those specified points. That solution becomes clearer once we eliminate the tax differentials and recognize that the genie of universal coverage cannot put back into the bottle. It would be best to focus on how best to design the single payer system in order to provide incentives for providers to be efficient and for patients to not to seek unnecessary care.

Most importantly, a single payer system would be paid for by general taxation, not by employers. (The exact form of the tax is important but not necessary for this article’s purpose.)

Employers should not have to pay for unemployment insurance

In most states, unemployment insurance is paid for by employers on a per-employee basis. And in many states, unemployment insurance is experiencebased. That is, employers pay for the insurance system based on the number of former employees who have received unemployment insurance. Although that system has a whiff of sense by seeking to dissuade employers from laying off people, it nevertheless is backwards. Employers employ people; they should be encouraged to do so, not threatened with costs for things that happen to every employer—especially to those that are struggling to make money. Unemployment insurance should come out of general tax revenues. It would eliminate a barrier to hiring and it might even result in higher wages.

American businesses have the capacity to grow

America has the best system of business finance the world has ever known. Many different types of well-funded intermediaries compete to invest in the most profitable projects and businesses. There almost literally is no limit to the amount of finance that is available for good ideas. The money will be available for private sector expansion, if the expansion can be profitable.

How many jobs would these policy changes create? I do not know. Would they be jobs that pay well enough to achieve the American Dream? I do not know.

The world evolves quickly. All public policy can do is make the playing field as attractive as possible for American companies to do business—and specifically to do business that uses employees. If we cut the costs of employers (1) by removing the corporate income tax, (2) by moving health care out of the cost structure, and (3) remove the unemployment insurance burden, then businesses will be able to do more business and will have greater incentives to do so by hiring more people—and paying them more. Reducing non-compensation costs is the best way to make American workers more competitive with workers from less affluent nations.

But the new jobs will require skills

The economic initiatives I have outlined are not, however, going to create large numbers of jobs for people without skills. Employers will still demand skills. Therefore an additional set of policy changes has to be designed to enable Americans—particularly young Americans—to become sufficiently skilled that they will be in demand. (Infrastructure improvements that are needed may provide some jobs for people with lesser skills, but my guess is that even most of the jobs created by infrastructure projects are likely to require modern skills. Therefore, by all means build infrastructure that the economy needs, but we should not do so in order to create jobs.)

How to provide a fair chance at the American Dream

If we want to make progress, we have to analyze what prevents less affluent children from having a fair chance to compete with their better-off peers. (I assume you will grant that less affluent kids do not have a fair chance to compete with their better-off peers. The data are everywhere, but if you have doubts, take a look at The Education Solution or at Richard Reeves’ recent book, Dream Hoarders.) A fair chance to compete educationally is at the heart of redressing both the problems of the middle class and the growth of inequality.

The fair chance has to begin at birth because children born to less affluent families (especially single-parent families) often are at a disadvantage in language, health care and nourishment right from the start. Society therefore should embrace free early education that is designed to enable all children to have the opportunity to get to kindergarten at the same stage of educational and emotional development. The details of my plan are in The Education Solution. The benefits of early education also are detailed at Nobel laureate James Heckman’s website https://heckmanequation.org.

Some may protest that the middle class does not need this early education system. Middle class parents do a good enough job on their own, they may argue. Perhaps that is so in many cases. But statistically, it is not true of single-parent households (which is a substantial percentage of young, white middle class households—see data cited by Thomas B. Edsall later in this article) or households where the parents are not well educated. The job of public policy is to enable as many American children as possible to be in a position to pursue The American Dream.

My program also looks to address the needs of substantially all young people for post-secondary education. We should look at post-secondary education as a continuum of educational types that students may choose after completing high school. I want to emphasize that all young people should complete high school before selecting a type of vocational education. There are two important reasons for this: 1) if selection comes at an earlier stage, less affluent students are likely to be shunted into less promising careers; and 2) in the world that young people are going to inhabit, a range of abilities that they cannot anticipate as teenagers are going to be necessary in order to make the adjustments that a successful working life is likely to entail.

Once it is time to choose a post-secondary school, government should be prepared to make up to a specified amount (I say $10,000 per year of full-time study in current dollars) by way of loans. But those loans should not bear interest and should be repayable only as a percentage of income—and required amounts should be payable as part of the former student’s income tax bill. (No defaults, no ifs, ands or buts.) Instead of interest, payments at a reduced percentage of income would be payable for ten years after the original amount was repaid. The idea is that the government takes an equity interest in the student. The details of the program are spelled out in The Education Solution. Such a program is gathering more and more adherents over the last two years, including some prominent Senators.

I have modeled the education aspects of my proposed program, and they produce a substantial surplus for the government over a 30-year period, but a deficit in the first 10 years. That temporary deficit is inevitable, given that the children who start at age zero take more than two decades to begin to pay effective dividends. The projections are available for audit at www.the-education-solution.com. The major benefits are quite obvious, however: Educated people make more money than uneducated people, they commit fewer crimes, and they use the safety net to a far lesser extent. Thus, over a long period, the government collects a great deal more in taxes and pays a great deal less in safetynet benefits and for police, courts and jails. Education is a long-term public good.

Class in America (not Marxist style)

The myth of a classless society in the U.S. has died hard. But it has died, and in its place are the realities of how people form groups and attachments and how they use conduct, tastes, and linguistic differences to keep others away and to signal to each other what class they belong to. David Brooks of the New York Times recently wrote intelligently about how such class systems work. See here. Those who would improve their economic lot must either become entrepreneurs or conform to the cultural norms of the economic class they wish to join.

A person (of whatever color) who wants to move from her own class to a higher one economically usually has to learn (and adopt, at least to some extent) the ways and language of the higher class in order to move into the higher class and to become comfortable there. Most obviously, this includes dress, manners, and speech. People often are held back by this necessity—and they are held back even more often by family and peer pressure not to change or not to be uppity. Such cultural difficulties should not be glossed over. Indeed, some aspects of cultural change (manners and speech, in particular) have to become a part of what the educational system accomplishes, if the educational system is to be successful in preparing students for 21st century work.

As Thomas B. Edsall wrote for the New York Times recently,

There is no question that the communities where Trump received crucial backing — rural to small-city America — are, in many ways, on a downward trajectory.

From 1990 to 2009, the percentage of births to single mothers among whites without high school diplomas grew from 21 to 51 percent; among those who completed high school, the percentage rose from 11 to 34 percent.

Along parallel lines, the percentage of intact marriages among white adults 25 to 60 years old without high school degrees fell from 70 percent in the 1970s to 36 percent in the 2000s. For those who finished, the percentage fell from 76 to 46 percent.

Almost literally, the mythical white middle class is falling apart, featuring early deaths due to opioid abuse and similar practices, failing marriages, and children preponderantly living with single parents. All these are, in the perception of the class that is being victimized, shameful indicia that they have been cheated at the expense of others, including blacks, immigrants and the upper middle class intelligentsia.

The joke on all of us, including members of the so-called middle class, is that the distressed middle class doesn’t want to be part of the real 21st century middle class. It wants to be members of a class that never existed except in myth. It wants to have good jobs without attaining education; it wants for wives not to have to work outside the household; it wants children to live in a Leave-It-To-Beaver neighborhood.

But to be members of the real 21st century middle class, people of the now-mythical middle class have to change culturally, and many of them do not want to do so. The background of this riddle is explained from different perspectives in Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and in White Trash by Nancy Isenberg, as well as in numerous other books and articles.

Here are some excerpts from the Introduction to Hillbilly Elegy, where J.D. Vance, who grew up in a blue-collar family in an Ohio steel town but managed to go to Yale Law School, has explained the cultural problem as simply and eloquently as anyone:

I want people to understand the American Dream as my family and I encountered it. (p. 2)

I nearly gave in to the deep anger and resentment harbored by everyone around me. (p. 2)

We do not like outsiders or people who are different from us, whether the difference lies in how they look, how they act, or, most important, how they talk. (p. 3)

From low social mobility to poverty to divorce and drug addiction, my home is a hub of misery. (p. 4)

We’re more socially isolated than ever, and we pass that isolation down to our children. (p. 4)

It’s about reacting to bad circumstances in the worst way possible. It’s about a culture that increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it. (p. 7)

There is a lack of agency here— a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself. (p. 7)

Vance is describing the particular part of the white middle class that he came from—the part that came north (in his family’s case, to Ohio) from Appalachia to work in manufacturing. But the syndrome he describes is similar to what affects many other sub-groups in the areas of the Midwest where the hollowing out of manufacturing has left many people without jobs that they consider worth their efforts.

The mythical middle class (of which Vance’s family is a part) know the joke is on them. That is why they voted for Trump, who promised to create a world that never existed in which they could keep their cultural identity but succeed to real 21 st century middle class economic status nevertheless. That cannot work, no matter what government does. And it is a very sad joke indeed because it appears that the same class of less educated people who live outside the coastal cities is at risk of further job losses through automation. See, e.g., James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute here.

Black Americans suffer from a similar cultural malady. Although the focus of this article is on the white middle class, one should note that black Americans also have created their own class that at the same time keeps others out and keeps its members down economically. That is not to say there is no discrimination against black Americans. There is plenty. But the interplay between the mythical white middle class and the black class has been a corrosive element of American life through the last 50 years that has held both sides back from accomplishing their economic goals and from achieving elements of The American Dream.

(One of the ways to reduce the enmity between the white middle class and the black community would be to do away with affirmative action. It generates too much resentment among whites—and at the same time, it makes its black beneficiaries wonder whether they really are any good at what they do. Affirmative action may have been a good idea in 1965, but we are over 50 years on, and it no longer benefits the nation. Instead, it drives a wedge not only between those who get the positions and those who believe they have been shut out of the positions despite better qualifications, but also between the entire classes of people who identify with the two sides.)

Cultural change

Most people who want 21st century jobs will have to conform to prevailing norms of manners, dress and speech in order to get them and to succeed at them. The people at the top are not going to change culturally, except as they choose to do so. Those coming up have to adapt to achieve their goals. This is not a new reality. When I—a Jewish kid from the Bronx—joined a Wall Street law firm in 1966, I understood the cultural rules and adapted.

People are entitled to their own cultural norms—it’s a free country, as the saying goes—but they/we have to accept the consequences of adhering to our cultural norms. There is a price, and each of us has to adapt or pay the price.

It is only by talking about the impact (which is taboo in many circles) that people can come to understand the consequences of cultural mores. No one has to change, but everyone should understand the choices and their consequences.

Middle class economics and GDP growth

You may have noted that I have not mentioned GDP growth or its components: population and productivity. The basic reason for that omission is that GDP growth in itself is not an economic good. The economic good is the ability of more people to achieve The American Dream. At the same time, adopting the policies that I have outlined above is almost certain to increase productivity (see my writing on productivity here and here) and GDP, regardless of whether it results in population growth.

Long-term goals for the survival of human life on this planet may even not be consistent with continued population growth. Humans—and even Americans—may have to learn to create economic prosperity without population growth. That means we will have to measure prosperity some other way than GDP—perhaps a way that more directly measures the success of people in achieving The American Dream. Such indicia might include, for example, median real income of a defined type of family. If everyone who wants one has a job that pays a wage sufficient to achieve The American Dream, then growth be damned, let’s all work hard and enjoy life.

The economic numbers can work with a slightly declining population so long as a larger proportion of that population is working and paying taxes, while a smaller proportion is receiving more than they are contributing. Basically, it is a question of “plus and minus” hockey players. Those we call plus are on the ice when their team is scoring more goals; those who are minus are on the ice more for other teams’ goals. A nation of plus hockey players need not worry about whether its population is growing or shrinking. (The impact of a static population on social security is outlined in The Education Solution.)

It is work—and the dignity of work—that creates a successful middle class. That is something that even those who resist cultural change can embrace. It is the saving grace that would enable a transition from yearning for a mythical time that never existed to a time when, through education and greater cultural homogeneity, vastly more Americans could become successful.

Positive results require a better understanding of the 21st century world

If you were hoping I had a magic bullet, well, obviously, I don’t have one. The U.S. emerged from WWII victorious, with millions of men coming home from war anxious to work and to make a life for themselves and their children. The rest of the world was on its back due to the fighting having taken place there, so the U.S. had little competition. And for 25 years or so we flourished in that environment. But many Americans did not notice that the world was changing. People in other nations were catching up, and the unity that the war had created was fraying, especially as government engaged in less popular wars. Technology changed apace, so the nature of work changed as well, but too many Americans did not notice that, either, or thought it did not apply to them or to their progeny. In that climate, the nation’s needs were misunderstood; the wrong changes were made; the wrong things allowed to stagnate. The nation continued to be the best place to live and the best place to thrive economically because of freedom and a spirit of entrepreneurship. But the rot in the middle grew. Now we need a different way of looking at things—not a Democrat way, not a Republican way, but a realistic way that discards the failed ideologies of both sides and substitutes policies that work to create more opportunity for a larger proportion of Americans.

Most of us share some of the blame for such a large part of the American population not having a fair opportunity to achieve The American Dream in the 21st century. Let’s try to re-imagine the spirit of unity that enabled the great middle class of the post-WWII years. We can have just as great a real 21st century middle class.

Again, my thanks to Kevin Wilson and Gil Weinreich for generating this conversation at seekingalpha.com. Seekingalpha is devoted principally to our members’ investment success, but important more general conversations about economic subjects may have the largest impact on the success of our future investments, as well as on the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Disclosure: I am/we are long AAPL.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

How the Left Can Win in the South

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The fact that the 11 states that made up the Confederacy all held their Democratic primaries by March 15 didn’t help. “One of the biggest problems was time,” says Justin Bamberg, a state representative from South Carolina and the lawyer for the families of Walter Scott, Keith Scott, and Alton Sterling. Bamberg switched his endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders in January 2016. “Bernie picked up momentum as time went on, but there just wasn’t enough time for people down here to get to know him, particularly when you’re running against someone with 100 percent name recognition.”

Because of the Democratic Party’s virtual disappearance in the Deep South outside of urban areas, the circle of influential voices has gotten tighter. “In the South, when it comes to Democratic elections, black churches carry a lot of weight,” Bamberg says, “and your ability to get into those circles makes a big difference in how well you’re gonna do in your campaign.” Clinton was able to do this in a way Sanders wasn’t.

Jillian Johnson, a left-wing City Council member from Durham, North Carolina, who supported Sanders, says that the campaign’s opening stumbles on race issues, such as a disastrous appearance at Netroots Nation, were critical. “Not being able to speak competently about race issues was a huge issue for Bernie, and I think that’s really important,” she says.

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Sanders’s failure to win over black voters, owing to all of these factors, was disastrous. In order for the left to win in the South, it must demonstrate an ability to create a strong and sustainable coalition in spite of the one of the main historical obstacles to progress in America: racism.

“When you look at the history of the American South, you often need at least some cross-racial collaboration,” says Robert Greene, a PhD candidate at the University of South Carolina. “But the problem is that, so many times in Southern history, racism has been used as a wedge between white and black Southerners who might otherwise have some common ground on key issues.”

Bamberg, who represents the rural, majority-black Bamberg County in the South Carolina legislature, says Sanders’s emphasis on economic justice may resonate with voters who usually see no reason to vote. “Hell, come to where I live, we have a city where the average family makes $15,000 a year…. It’ll take time for things to change, but the seed has been planted and it’ll continue to be watered.”

As the nonprofit Feeding America notes, the South has the highest rural-poverty rate of any region in the country—25 percent. Some of these rural poor are Democrats, some are Republicans, many don’t vote at all—but none of them are benefiting from austerity policies. Turning non-voting poor and working-class people into reliable voters is a viable strategy, but it requires a plan to make their lives better.

It also means reaching African Americans—particularly older African Americans—in a way that Sanders wasn’t able to. That takes organizing and investment in years where there isn’t a presidential election, rather than writing off the region as unwinnable. Sanders’s woes in the South reflect “the degree to which presidential campaigns are not the right place to change the overall dynamics of a political party,” Jamelle Bouie wrote during last year’s primary. “To win over black voters, Sanders and his supporters needed to spend time in black communities, becoming a part of their politics—a trusted partner.”

A winning strategy must also take into account the changing demographics of the South, and the potential to meld new constituencies into a winning coalition. “When people think of the Latino vote, they tend to think of it in the Southwest or West, but in fact the Latino vote is nationwide,” Greene says. “And in states like the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, states that have larger and larger numbers of immigrants coming in from Central America and Mexico, we really need to start thinking about how to build a coalition that also includes them.”

There is historical precedent for such a multiracial progressive campaign in the South—including one that Sanders himself was a part of. In 1984 and 1988, Rev. Jesse Jackson ran for president on a platform that tied social-justice issues like police accountability, voting rights, and civil rights to economic issues like farm debt.

“As the Rainbow Coalition reaches beyond its primary constituency to include an array of new ones, the values espoused are incorporated into the growing movement,” The Nation’s editors wrote in their 1988 endorsement of Jackson. “When unionists, feminists, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, students, civil libertarians and community activists join or endorse the Rainbow campaign, they contribute their ideals and their energies while they share the coalition’s strength.” Jackson eventually finished runner-up in his second run for president, winning 11 contests during the primary. The majority of his wins came in Southern states: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia.

“Jackson was able to make specific appeals to poor white voters based around class issues,” Greene says. “It wasn’t just about fighting racial injustice, even though that was at the core of his platform. He also spent a lot of time talking about economic injustice, to an extent that, even in the 1980s, most Democrats weren’t really comfortable with.”

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Thirty years later, civil-rights leader Rev. Dr. William Barber is carrying on the tradition that dates back to the late-19th-century Fusionist movement in North Carolina. As he wrote in The Nation:

After the Civil War, newly freed African Americans found common cause with white North Carolinians, wrote a new state constitution and founded the South’s first public-school system. In the 1890s, their political descendants formed an interracial “Fusion coalition” of white populists and black Republicans, which won the governorship and every state-wide office in 1896. White conservatives overthrew the Fusionist government by force and fraud, installing a one-party state that disfranchised blacks and ushered in lynch law and Jim Crow segregation. Still, the memory of fusion politics did not die.

Barber’s Moral Movement—inspired by the legacy of fusion politics—offers perhaps the best blueprint for building a broad-based coalition in the South. Over the past six years of Republican control in state government, Barber’s Moral Movement has grown out of opposition to the marriage of social and economic conservatism behind policies like heavy cuts to public services and the anti-trans, anti-worker “bathroom bill” HB 2.

The Moral Movement’s annual march draws tens of thousands of people from social-justice groups working on immigration, labor and workers’ rights, environmental justice, civil rights, and health care. This year, in the wake of Trump’s election, the state NAACP said it was their largest march thus far. “I like to say we have blacks, whites, Latinos, young, old, we have rural, we have urban, we have gay, we have straight, we have Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Hindu all coming together in the Deep South,” Barber told Sanders in a conversation in February.

Despite its losing the Democratic nomination, one outcome of the Sanders campaign that seems to be enduring is the popularization of democratic socialism all across the country, including in the South. Democratic Socialists of America has seen membership more than double since November, from over 8,000 in the day before the presidential election to over 24,000 currently. According to its website, DSA currently has 40 DSA chapters, organizing committees, and YDS groups in the former Confederate states. Many of these are brand new. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the North Carolina Piedmont DSA.)

And leftist candidates have already been winning local elections in the South. In April, the DSA- and Our Revolution–endorsed khalid kamau won election to a City Council seat in the newly chartered city of South Fulton, Georgia. And in June, the leftist Chokwe Antar Lumumba won the mayoralty of Jackson, Mississippi, and pledged to make Jackson the “most radical city on the planet.”

Johnson, who was elected to the Durham City Council in 2015, has shown the importance of left-wingers at the city level by pressing progressive policies in a state that’s been dominated by Republicans for almost a decade. Johnson has won reforms in key areas like marijuana de-prioritization and a $15 minimum wage for all city employees. Right now, Johnson is pushing for participatory budgeting in Durham.

Johnson’s suggestions for building the left at the local level and beyond are simple: run a diverse slate of candidates, invest in local progressive causes, and—perhaps most importantly—organize around people, not elections. “There will be moments when national organizations want to fund the South, but in between major elections, there’s nothing,” she says. “We can be working to build community engagement all the time. There’s a real danger in only building a structure around elections.”

Labor has traditionally been a key factor in organizing the left’s base in non-election years. Unions provide an entry point into politics for the working class. In March, Sanders, former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, and NAACP president Cornell Williams Brooks rallied for workers’ rights at a Nissan factory in Mississippi (the state where Sanders got his second-smallest share of primary votes, after the US Virgin Islands). “If Mississippi Nissan workers succeed,” Sanders said, “it will send a powerful message in the South and across this country that working people are prepared to fight for justice.”

But unions are up against the weight of history. While organized labor is starting to make a stronger push in the region, the South has traditionally been one of the least unionized areas of the country, dating back to Jim Crow. The AFL-CIO’s current campaign to organize the South has seen some crushing blows recently, like the February defeat of a union at a Boeing plant in South Carolina. But a few recent victories, including in pushing local Democrats officials to the left on workers’ rights in places like Miami and Dallas, offer glimmers of hope. For that reason, fighting to overturn legal obstacles to labor in the South—such as restrictions on collective bargaining for public-sector unions—is a critical battle, even if it promises to be a long one.

To be sure, there are stark challenges facing the left in the South. But from the late-19th-century Fusionist movement in North Carolina to West Virginia’s rich labor history to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, victories for racial and economic justice have started in the place where rights have been trampled the most. And the backlash against that progress has roots in the South as well: Jim Crow as retribution for Reconstruction and, more recently, the emergence of Tea Party rule in the Obama era.

“We have to look at this as a deeply long-term strategy, they can’t just look at this in terms of the next election or the next cycle,” Greene says. Building a successful Southern left—one that not only harkens back to the successes of the Fusion alliance and the Rainbow Coalition but institutionalizes change in the South in a way those movements were ultimately unable to—is a project that may take years, even decades, to bear fruit.

And in order to win, Greene says, it’s going to take an organized effort by all of these groups on the left—Our Revolution and the DSA included—to support the movements that have been doing work here for years. “I think providing a support role, and helping those campaigns link up with each other and really build a broad-based coalition, is really where the future of the party or the future of progressivism lies in the South,” Greene says.

“Clinton really got into the South hard,” Turner remembers from the primary. “The lesson to be learned there is to get in there now, and to build the relationships now…. what Reverend Barber has done is nothing short of spectacular. So it’s getting in there and doing the work [to support that]. We’re not coming in there to dictate.”

Trump’s Obama Derangement Syndrome isn’t really about Obama

… successfully leveraged existing resentment towards African Americans in combination with emerging fears … of oppression on our backs, black Americans would still rise to the … Kos often point to the racism experienced by world-famous athletes like … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

WYPL brings you the Memphis Sound

click to enlarge geo_klein.jpg

I recently stopped by the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library to see a local legend at work. No, it wasn’t some superhero librarian working the stacks. I was down in the basement, where George Klein was celebrating the taping of his 150th episode of Memphis Sounds on WYPL, the library’s broadcast wing (channel 18 on local cable, 89.3 on your FM dial, and streaming on the internet).

Klein was every bit the professional and in very fine fettle as he wrapped up the broadcast. Of course, he’s an old hand at such things, having started in television with 1964’s Talent Party, not to mention his years of DJ’ing before that. He recounted to me how he first persuaded Talent Party‘s producers to integrate the show. “They said, ‘Okay, we’ll do it. But you’ve got to get a big star to start with. I called Fats Domino, who was an old friend, and he agreed. He insisted that I personally pick him up at the airport. So as we were on our way to the station, he tells me to stop at a liquor store. I told him, ‘Fats, you know that’s against FCC rules to drink on the show.’ He said, ‘I know George, but here’s what we’ll do. You get me a little paper cup and I’ll keep it down on the floor while I’m playing, and then I can take a little sip now and then’.”

Once he’d hosted Fats, it was an easy matter to get James Brown and many other great African-American artists on the show, which was on the air until 1973.

But while Klein was one of the first to take the Memphis Sound to the airwaves via WYPL, he’s now being joined by other DJ’s on the station’s radio channel. Every night of the week is dedicated to a different aspect of Memphis music, drawing on the library’s deep archive of local artists’ output. There are shows on Memphis music of the 60s, the 70s, gospel, soul, Sun Records, and current sounds. And with the radio programs live-streamed online, WYPL is taking these sounds around the globe.

“Honestly it all comes from the upgrades we’ve done in the last two years,” says station manager Tommy Warren. “The city of Memphis has put in a lot of upgrades. You can do so much more with the latest computer software; we’re actually able to do more with the same amount of staff.

“The Memphis music programming promotes the Memphis music collection that we have here in the library. Over the last few years while we’ve been doing that, I’ve had my two radio producers working on those shows, but with all the equipment upgrades and reevaluating what we do, we decided that the Memphis music programming is now what we need to focus on as far as building up. And that’s where we’ve started having people come in and start volunteer hosting these shows. And we’ve gotten really good feedback in the short amount of time we’ve been doing it. And I think the streaming of the shows has a lot to do with it. Everybody knows how much people love Memphis music. We look at ourselves as a marketing branch for both the library and the city of Memphis.”

But Warren adds that the daytime programming of live readings of current magazines and newspapers, a public service for the vision and reading impaired, is still important to the station. “We have readings 365 days a year. People overlook the significance of that program, until you need that program. The audience that we have for that depends on our programming more than other radio audiences do.”

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Looking back at ‘The Summer of Love’

This weekend, I’m hosting an hour-long special on the BBC World Service, looking back at that wild revolutionary moment in the cultural and political life of America. And really the world.

I met some fascinating people in San Francisco making this radio documentary for the BBC, and I want to share with you some of what they told me. Because when you look around America and the world in 2017, it’s hard not to think back about what a small community did to challenge the establishment 50 years ago.

At the Haight-Ashbury annual street fair last month, I met a man who was thinking about all this. His name is Helger and he was born in 1967.

Helger is German. He and his wife moved to the Bay Area for work about a decade ago. They loved it and decided to stay.

I asked him whether the hype around the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love is nostalgia — or something else.

“I mean you know who [is] the president of the United States, and what we’re seeing around the world, whether it’s in Turkey or in other countries. We see a movement of democracy being abolished in some of the countries,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to go out again and connect to people in real life and try also to have a conversation. I mean maybe we’re a good example.”

Dennis McNally, former publicist for the Grateful Dead and a historian of the Summer of Love, said the cultural life of America was fermenting in said Haight-Ashbury in 1966.

“They experimented with psychedelics, with consciousness, with sexuality, with music, with all kinds of things.”

“They experimented with psychedelics, with consciousness, with sexuality, with music, with all kinds of things.”

The ones doing the experimenting were an eclectic mix of artists and writers, from Jerry Garcia and Grace Slick to Allen Ginsberg and Ken Kesey. They were folkies and jazz cats — actors and dancers. There were local business owners in the Haight, college kids, high school dropouts and people who just wanted to be part of the scene.

“They had such a good time that, at the end of it, they said, ‘let’s throw a party,’” said Dennis.

A party that would last, in theory, for three months. … Word spread fast.

School was out, and the idea of being part of something exciting, radical and fun drew as many as 100,000 people to the streets of Haight-Ashbury that summer. The streets of the Haight were constantly packed.

Joel Selvin, a writer and former rock critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, said “San Francisco was this glorious beacon of this new life and it echoed throughout the world.”

South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela had fled the apartheid regime back home, and became part of the LA music scene. In June of 1967, Masekela played the Monterey pop festival. Before he had his big 1968 hit “Grazin’ in the Grass,” he was grazin’ in something else.

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“When you walked down the Haight Ashbury at any time, it was difficult to find somebody who wasn’t floating,” he said.   “When you say everybody was ‘floating’ in the Haight, what do you mean?” I asked.

“They were high. Everybody was high,” he answered.

“Were you high?” I asked. Of course, he said.

“Did you try LSD in California?” I asked.

“I didn’t try it. I took it. I took it regularly. … Very few people were not tripping,” Masekela explained.

Just imagine the freedom the Haight presented for a young black artist from apartheid-era South Africa.

And, remember what else was going on in the world. It was the Cold War. Vietnam was at full tilt. The civil rights movement had gripped America.

Harry Strauch provides a pretty clear sense of the mood in the country — and the world — back in 1967.

His family had emigrated to the Bay Area from Vienna, and he ended up in the Haight, opening what was probably the first head shop in the US — In Gear. But in between, he made a stop at Harvard, where he saw the schisms in America on full display.

“I went to Harvard University where Henry Kissinger and Timothy Leary were teaching, both at the same time, in the same building where I was the philosophy librarian. And that was in Emerson Hall,” he said. “And at each end of the building there were two lecture halls. And sometimes I would go down to one, and there was Kissinger talking about Realpolitik, and it was all loaded with these young future senator types. And at the other end of the hall was Leary talking to the psychology graduate students, and they were all taking mushrooms with the prisoners in the state’s prison system.”

Yeah kind of mindblowing. But that image neatly sums up the 60s.

[embedded content]

There are so many legacies of the Summer of Love. But we’ve got to single out the music. 1967 was already a prolific musical year.

And then the San Francisco sound caught fire.

Writer Joel Selvin told me about how Paul McCartney had to see the scene for himself.

“He flew in from Los Angeles where he was doing some business, borrowed Frank Sinatra’s Learjet, and spent the day and flew out without staying the night,” he said. “He had a copy of Sgt. Pepper’s and it was a test pressing. And he walked in unannounced to a rehearsal by the Jefferson Airplane. Can you imagine that? It’s 1967 and you’re playing with your little band in San Francisco and in your rehearsal, ‘Hullo fellas,’ comes Paul McCartney!” he said while laughing. 

Well they knew what to do. They took him over to the Airplane mansion, and dosed him with DMT, which was a very cool designer psychedelic that was short-term, like the trip was like an hour,” Selvin explained. “They called it working man’s acid. And they sat around, and when everybody came back to Earth, they listened to the test pressing.”

“He wanted to see San Francisco. … He’d heard about it. He’d made this record that was a sort of imagining of it. This was something happening, what, 8000 miles away that he’d just heard about. It was a rumor.”

“He wanted to see San Francisco. … He’d heard about it. He’d made this record that was a sort of imagining of it. This was something happening, what, 8000 miles away that he’d just heard about. It was a rumor.”

But it wasn’t a rumor, it wasn’t a dream. It was real. So real that musicians all over the world continued to fall under the spell of San Francisco for years to come.

From PRI’s The World ©2017 PRI

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Your 5-minute guide to the best things to do in Charlotte | July 20-27

What is there to do in Charlotte this weekend? Here’s our experts’ picks on everything from entertainment – movies to music to theater – to food and wine, beer and restaurants. And shopping, of course…

Thursday

TJ Reddy in his studio

T.J. Reddy in his studio.

Courtesy of Projective Eye Gallery

▪ Look at a lifetime of work and meet Charlotte artist T.J. Reddy at tonight’s reception (start time: 6 p.m.) for “Everything is Everything” at UNC Charlotte Center City’s Projective Eye Gallery. An activist who served jail time in the 1970s, Reddy, now 70, has been making art nearly his entire life and in his tight, colorful compositions you will see symbols that reflect our current times. One cannot help but see the world through this artist’s eyes with this show, and perhaps learn from the artist’s experiences how to respond to the challenges of today. The retrospective is on view until Aug. 20. – KS

Friday

▪ Now through July 30, some of Charlotte’s best restaurants are offering the chance to indulge in three courses for $30 or $35 during The Queen’s Feast (aka Charlotte Restaurant Week). Here’s how to do this right: First, make reservations. The best spots fill up fast. Second, make sure you’re actually getting a deal (read: don’t go to the burger place where you’d never spend $30). Finally, try the upscale local spot you’ve been hearing so much about. A few of this summer’s best bets for that include Oak Steakhouse, Bernardin’s at Ratcliffe and Carpe Diem. – CI

▪ Leave it to the U.S. National Whitewater Center to take something as challenging as a half marathon or 4-mile run and upgrade it by doing it after dark … on wooded trails. Up for the challenge? Bring your headlamp and your courage for the Tread Nightly run (with 8 and 8:30 p.m. start times). Feeling extra adventurous? Camp out post-run and wake up with the sun on Saturday morning for the Tread Brightly run (8 and 8:30 a.m. start times). – CI

▪ Bring your kids to meet Washington Mystics WNBA player Ivory Latta (a Rock Hill resident) and hear her read from her childen’s book, “Despite the Height,” 11 a.m.-noon at Brilliant Sky Toys & Books of Blakeney. – CB

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“The Little Mermaid” as Broadway musical is at Blumenthal through Sunday.

Mark & Tracy Photography

▪ A girl leaves her watery world for an airy one in the touring Broadway production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” which boasts an Alan Menken score with old lyrics by Howard Ashman and new ones by Glenn Slater. It closes a six-day run at uptown’s Belk Theater with performances at 7 p.m. Friday, 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday. – TJ

▪ If you’re in the mood for a little comedy this weekend, your best bet is to catch Bryan Callen at The Comedy Zone (900 NC Music Factory Blvd.). The comic’s busy schedule has included regular roles on both the DirecTV drama “Kingdom” and ABC’s sitcom “The Goldbergs.” His stand-up performances are at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Friday and 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. – TJ

Saturday

▪ Couldn’t make it to Comic-Con in San Diego this weekend? Try “Imagi-CON” at ImaginOn (300 E. Seventh St.). It won’t have the big stars or the big screenings, of course, but the second annual event for ages 11 to 18 will celebrate comic books, graphic novels, manga and anime from noon-4 p.m. Pre-teens and teens can learn about the comics and graphic novel industry, meet local artists and check out a variety of superhero-themed activities. The event is free. – TJ

▪ Hickory Playground’s One-Act Play Festival – a second-year nonprofit project from three young area artists: Dylan Tashjian, Jordan Makant and Robert Fuller – offers eight original plays created and performed in the span of 48 hours, raising money for area high school arts programs. Watch the end result beginning at 7 p.m. at the SALT Block’s Drendel Auditorium (243 Third Ave. NE, Hickory). Admission is free; donations encouraged. – HS

▪ Thirsty Nomad Brewing (4402 Stuart Andrew Blvd. #A) will celebrate its first birthday 1-7 p.m. with live entertainment, local vendors and food trucks. They grow up so fast, don’t they? – CI

▪ Eat pizza and raise money for the Matthews Community Farmers Market, at the annual Pizza Fundraiser 5-8 p.m. at New Town Farms in Waxhaw. Tickets are $75 and include beer from Legion Brewing, wines from Chef’s Table (it’s adults-only, because of that), plus appetizers, salads, pastas, dessert and unlimited handmade pizzas from True Crafted Pizza. Tickets: www.matthewsfarmersmarket.com. – KP

Tuesday

▪ Some 3,300 BMX cyclists from more than 40 countries will compete in Rock Hill today through July 29 in the 2017 BMX World Championships at the Novant Health BMX Supercross Track (1307 Riverwalk Pkwy, Rock Hill). The last time the event was held in the U.S. was 2001. Tickets range from $12.50 for a single-day pass to $50 for a pass good for all five days. – CB

Wednesday

▪ In the midst of its 18th consecutive summer on the road, 311 is back at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre with its annual Unity Tour following the June release of its latest album, “Mosaic.” This time, the group is joined by Danish pop-rock trio New Politics, whose sunny vibe on songs like its new single, “One of Us,” will undoubtedly help rally the crowd. Showtime is 7 p.m. – CD

▪ Make tracks to Trade and Tryon streets from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a free scoop of Mayfield Moose Tracks ice cream: For every scoop served, Mayfield will donate $1 to the Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte. The plan is to raise $10,00, so yes, that’s 10,000 scoops. A bunch of you need to get over there and eat some ice cream. – KP

Thursday

▪ Attention art lovers: This month’s Uptown Crawl, 6-9 p.m., will feature fine art at seven venues in the Tryon Street corridor, including Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, New Gallery of Modern Art, Wells Fargo History Museum, Sozo Gallery, Allen Tate Center City Gallery, Projective Eye Gallery@UNC Center City and Sage Salon & Studio. The crawl includes free admission to all participating galleries and museums, as well as complimentary trolley rides between each exhibit. Details: https://goo.gl/T7NbdJ. – TJ

▪ Stella Artois wants your cup to run over at “The Art of the Chalice,” 7-10 p.m. at 400 E. M.L. King Jr. Blvd. It’s free and includes the unveiling of a Charlotte-inspired artwork by Osiris Rain, food by chef Larry Schreiber, glass artists from N.C. Glass Center, folk-rock from Time Sawyer, and a lesson in beer pouring by master cicerone (the beer version of a wine master) Max Bakker. Details are on Facebook. – KP

Coming up

▪ Best-selling author John Grisham has said he doesn’t do much guest speaking — but he’s signed on for the third annual dinner benefitting The Joe Martin ALS Foundation, Aug. 3 at the Carmel Country Club. Tickets are $200 per person, $350 a pair, $1,650 for a table of 10. Grisham will talk about his novels, tell some personal stories and talk about the foundation, which provides free home care for people living with ALS. – HS

▪ At the Homegrown Tomato Festival at Seeds on 36th: Urban Farm Store, 200 E. 36th St. next Friday, you can spend the evening with Craig LeHoullier, better known as The N.C. Tomato Man for his book and his projects, such as the Dwarf Tomato Growing Project that develops tomato varieties for small spaces. Tickets are $15 (or two for $23) and include light refreshments. Tickets at eventbrite.com. – KP

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Allie & Orietta Release Their Brand New Empowering Women Collection.

Designers Allie & Orietta present a collection of delicate hand-knotted bracelets made with genuine pearls and crystals, to benefit The Pillowcase Project.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES, July 22, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — Jacksonville, FL. July 20, 2017. – Allie and Orietta are releasing their brand new 10 piece Empowering Women collection benefiting The Pillowcase Project, which headquarters are in Manhattan Beach, California. This collection of beautiful hand-knotted freshwater pearls and Austrian crystals bracelets were individually made by the designers themselves. The designers will donate 50% of the sales to The Pillowcase Project. The Empowering Women collection will be released on July 26th, 2017.
Allie and Orietta are known for helping the professional woman express her unique style effortlessly.
For the first time, Allie and Orietta have created an entire product line benefiting The Pillowcase Project, a non-for-profit organization that helps women in rural Kenya improve their life by teaching them a new skill and start their micro business. The new Empowering Women Collection is scheduled to go live on July 26th, 2017.
The collection will be exclusively sold on the website allieandorietta.com where the limited products are expected to sell out by the end of the season.
The bracelets are designed to showcase a delicate look while helping The Pillowcase Project since 50% of all proceeds will be donated to this cause. Thus, making every woman a philanthropist.
Some of the bracelets feature a variety of classic and popular color combination to capitalize on today’s trends. The bracelets are made with freshwater pearls and Austrian crystals, which women will be able to wear with any outfit, day and night.
Each individual bracelet has been named after a woman in the Anjech village in rural Kenya. A few examples are:
Eunice
Monica
Mama George
Salome
Ruth

The Empowering Women Collection ranges in price from $38 to $88.
Allie and Orietta are excited to welcome their fans to their new handmade product line.
For more information about the Empowering Women Collection, or for an interview with Allie and Orietta, please write to hello@allieandorietta.com. Media high-resolution photos available upon request.
About Allie and Orietta
Allie and Orietta started designing fashion accessories after they were faced with a very real problem. Everywhere they went, women were wearing the same generic store-bought accessories! After many months of creating accessories by hand, Allie and Orietta’s products started gaining notoriety amongst the fashion industry.
www.allieandorietta.com

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Alejandra Pikulski
Allie & Orietta, Inc
9047018150
email us here

Town Creek’s First African American Business Owner Gets a Historical Marker

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TOWN CREEK, Ala. – Town Creek’s first African American business owner and longest running business owner will be remembered forever thanks to his family. Today they honored Reverend O.C. Stanley with a historical marker.

Tons of O.C. Stanley’s family and friends showed to First Missionary Baptist Church Town Creek for the ceremony. Stanley was a pastor of two churches, he owned O.C. Stanley Grocery and City Cleaners, was a farmer, and a taxi driver.

He opened his store in 1921. “Not only was he an African American, but he was 17-years-old in 1921”, O.C. Stanley’s grandson Wayne Stanley said. He was able to do this even with people saying he couldn’t.

His store was in business for six decades. “He started with two boxes of cookies and a case of drinks. He would sell those and go back and get some more. He borrowed $50 for a gas pump to sell gas,” Wayne Stanley explained.

The gas station is no longer around and O.C. Stanley died in 1987, but his legacy lives on through his family. Town Creek will always be reminded of Stanley too, since a marker is now permanently placed where O.C. Stanley Grocery City Cleaners once stood.

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