Category Archives: Entertainment & The Arts

Black Legends in Sports Entertainment: Boxing and the Impact of Ali

The sport of boxing for black boxers were personally influenced by racial injustice, instigated white riots and bias white press that only wrote crime news about blacks including any famous black athletes that encountered trouble with the law. During the rise of black boxers getting notoriety, from the beginning of the 20th Century, black legendary heavyweight boxers like Jack Jackson, once accused and arrested for violating the Mann Act and Joe Louis, who ran into legal issues with the IRS, paved the way for Muhammad Ali, who was convicted for willful refusal to submit to induction into the Armed Forces, continued the trailblazing legacy of black boxers whose image, sportsmanship and influence impacted the United States of America’s pop culture.

Since boxing is one of America’s oldest sport, even during a time when black people were being lynched, lawfully falsely accused with harsher penalties, and disrespected as a human being whose was considered a second class citizen due to racial discrimination across the world. During this phase in the United States of America, blacks were not respected as people in general but being a public black figure, like a black athlete for example, were treated a little better unless their reputation was in jeopardy and it made news in a negative way.

Jack Johnson is known to be the first black boxer to win a heavyweight championship and held this title from 1908 -1915, next another black boxer by the name of Joe Louis held the title from 1937 – 1949, and then Muhammad Ali held the title from 1932 – 1970.

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Ali became a famed and well-respected black boxer and he was known as, “The People’s Champ.” Ali, like the other black boxers before him, seemed to all be packed with diverse personality, fashion, style and poetic boasts. They’re personalities and charismatic attitudes towards using boxing are all similar in ways to how they drew an audience of fans, and people that admired them for being standouts in the sport of boxing.

Known as the most popular boxer of all time, Muhammad Al’s initial attitude, experience and desire to fight, came from his expressed feelings of dealing with ways to fight back when he was being bullied over a bike that was taken. Not knowing that fighting was a way for him to be introduced to professional boxing and learn the techniques to fighting. While still a young boy, it came in handy to get advice and guidance from a police officer and boxing trainer. This same officer who took young Ali’s, then named Cassius Clay’s police report from that stolen bike incident, lead him to boxing training.

During his adult career, Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight title is mostly known from him professionally boxing Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964 in Miami Beach, Florida.  At that time, Angelo Dundee, was the original owner who opened the famed 5th Street Gym, where Ali trained. He made Miami home and local residence of the black communities like Overtown and Liberty City’s Hampton House, carry clear memories of him walking the streets in the community, talking to people and even training around town.

Ali made it no secret that he wanted to use his celebrity profile to help black people’s environmental, social and economic disparity issues within this country and abroad. As he expressively voiced his concerns which were often intellectually verbalized, he captured the attention of local, state, and international leaders. At the same time, he was building a closer relationship between black communities by communicating their concerns publically in the media and on a national level. He is a black figure that represents black pride, culture and awareness across the world and used boxing to promote himself as a dominant leader whose earned his respect.

King of Street Lit: Author John Bryant Jr.

One of the most rewarding and life changing experiences for an aspiring journalist and news reporter is to interview a writer. Between a seven to ten-year span, writer, author, self-publisher entrepreneur, John Bryant Jr. says, “I love the life of writing.” He considers himself an urban fiction writer but when he started writing states, “I was called a black experience writer.” He later states, “Urban fiction writers write about what goes on in their community and a lot of people want to shield themselves from that reality.” His writings are from some personal life experiences merged with fictional storytelling. Black novelist like himself that are urban fiction writers today, collectively invite society into the world of black community life in ghettos across the world that have declined due to disparities. Bryant said, “This type of life that I write about surrounds us in the black community.” A written quote from him is on the back of each book cover says, “We are the forgotten people in the streets.” This reflects his commitment to inspire and open the eyes of mainstream American by writing and storytelling about black people living the black life experience.

Photo Credits: Jacqueline O.
Photo Credits: Jacqueline O.

Within the writer’s circle, a stand-alone term called, “Street Lit,” short for “street literature,” is used by black experience writers who reflect on the realities and lifestyles of actually growing up and living in Black American communities presently or in the past. The “street lit” genre’s written content usually incorporates stories that plagued the black communities with violence, guns, drugs and prostitution. It has its own language, a glossary of terms, and with minimum to no editing. Bryant said, “As a writer, writing isn’t the problem, being punctually correct as a writer can be a challenge and editing issues.” Blacks have a way of communicating with street codes and talk, to slang and made-up terms that they directly understand and relate to each other generally speaking. Bryant explained, “Writers need to be aware of plagiarism, paraphrasing and copyright protection, due to us distributing and exposing our works and ideas that can be easily stolen and infringed upon.”

Being a well-known self-published novelist and Miami writer, John Bryant Jr. states, “I’m the king of “street lit,” proudly from his home in the mist of Miami’s Historical Overtown, an all-black community. Currently, one of his career highlights is hosting a public group page on Facebook called, “We Love Urban Fiction.” The community of “street lit,” writers base their stories on one’s own life and shares it. Bryant validates this point by saying, “It’s actually a black experience novel.” He’s considered the authority on “street lit” to young black writers who follow his group and post their writings for him to review and offer feedback on. His environment of growing up in Rochester, New York’s Corn Hill Art District, influenced him to turn his attention towards art programs and focus on his academics, after being inspired by his older sister who always carried books and looked smart in his opinion. His turning point as a teenager was when he was exposed and then experimented with the street life. Bryant said, “At the age of 17, I was influenced by urban fiction writer Donald Goines and taught the school of hustling by real street hustlers.” Rerouted by lessons of the street life from street hustlers exposing him to women strippers and street workers, to pimping and later drug dealing, Bryant eventually overcame street life and embraced being blessed with a second chance because someone believed in him.

Bryant’s previous street image and fictional characters are a reflection of hip-hop music’s other genre, rap music. Rap music is lyrical fiction storytelling mixed with real life fantasies of the black experience dealing with drug dealing, prostitution, sex, pimping and murder. Bryant said, “But it isn’t reality, it’s more of a fictional account of what goes on.” For example, rap artist 50 Cent purchased Bryant’s first book titled, “Legends Story: The Tale of a Pimp,” and followed him on Twitter at one point. This shows how hip-hop music help shape the black experience expressions through lyrics and branding images.

Photo Credits: Jacqueline O.
Photo Credits: Jacqueline O..

Today Bryant has self-published six books, which are displayed in Miami’s main library, sold on Kindle, has 6 videos on YouTube, while working on his seventh book titled, “The Internet Girls.” Bryant says, “After I met a real Internet pimp, I decided to write a fictional story on that lifestyle.” Bryant wants to continue to write as many books as he can and so far has titles and the stories to his upcoming books already in mind. Bryant explains, “My goal is to get stories I lived in print and help change the mind set of our people through my writings.” And explained that his novels have moral beginnings and endings, while the middle of his story deals with what really goes on, as Bryant puts it, “In the hood.”

Interview by: Jacqueline Oliphant, Entertainment Business, MS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF PROMOTING “LIVE OVERTOWN!”

The new Live Overtown campaign powered and marketed by the Mosaic Group just started and wants phttp://www.southbeachurban.com/wp-admin/edit-tags.php?taxonomy=categoryeople to know that Miami’s Historic Overtown, which is one of Miami’s oldest pioneer all black communities, is ready and open for business. Their message is simple, they are inviting locals, and future residents to get involved to expand, relocate or open a new business in the heart of Miami’s growing downtown area. Overtown is encompassed around other popular communities like Bayside, Wynwwod, the Arts and Entertainment District and Mid-town. The future developments, plans and investment opportunities offer incentive programs to new and existing business owners. Along with pushing the Overtown Live campaign and promotion, they are offering Trolley tours to showcase what the plans for future business will include, from entertainment, eateries, bed-and-breakfast, beauty, barber and nail salons to jazz clubs. Ann Marie Sorrell, president of the Mosaic Group explains that, “The term Live Overtown is interchangeable because during the first phase of the campaign, the focus is on the lifestyle and business side of Overtown and then we will showcase the entertainment side of Overtown.” The entertainment phase of Overtown has historically been on public display at Overtown’s Lyric Theater, where a long list of black entertainers performed at talent shows and hosted special events put on by local popular promoters of black music and entertainment. The Live Overtown entertainment phase of their campaign project is an exciting moment in Overtown’s history and is planned to kick off during the annual Overtown Music & Art Festival scheduled for July 23rd of this year, which highlights the rich culture of the Overtown community with a purpose to increase and boost economic development by bringing together what Overtown has to offer to its community and neighboring communities. With their popular hash tag #LiveOvertown and marketing strategies, the attention towards this campaign will surely be one to watch out for in any social media platforms and local news.

 

By Jacqueline Oliphant, Entertainment Business, MS