Cancer-Stricken Angola 3 Prisoner Herman Wallace Given Just Days to Live After 42 Years in Solitary

Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States—he’s spent more than 40 years in a 6-by-9-foot cell in Louisiana. Imprisoned in 1967 for a robbery he admits, he was subsequently sentenced to life for a killing he vehemently denies. Herman’s House is a moving account of the remarkable expression his struggle found in an unusual project proposed by artist Jackie Sumell. Imagining Wallace’s “dream home” began as a game and became an interrogation of justice and punishment in America. The film takes us inside the duo’s unlikely 12-year friendship, revealing the transformative power of art.

The Film

The injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art are explored in Herman’s House, a feature documentary that follows the unlikely friendship between a New York artist and one of America’s most famous inmates as they collaborate on an acclaimed art project.

In 1972, New Orleans native Herman Joshua Wallace (b. 1941) was serving a 25-year sentence for bank robbery when he was accused of murdering an Angola Prison guard and thrown into solitary confinement. Many believed him wrongfully convicted. Appeals were made but Herman remained in jail and—to increasingly widespread outrage—in solitary. Years passed with one day much like the next. Then in 2001 Herman received a perspectiveshifting letter from a Jackie Sumell, a young art student, who posed the provocative question:

“What kind of house does a man who has lived in a six-foot-by-nine-foot cell for over 30 years dream of?”

Thus began an inspired creative dialogue, unfolding over hundreds of letters and phone calls and yielding a multi-faceted collaborative project that includes the exhibition “The House That Herman Built.” The revelatory art installation—featuring a full-scale wooden model of Herman’s cell and detailed plans of his dream home—has brought thousands of gallery visitors around the world face-to-face with the harsh realities of the American prison system.

But as Herman’s House reveals, the exhibition is just the first step.

Their journey takes a more unpredictable turn when Herman asks Jackie to make his dream a reality. As her own finances dwindle, Jackie begins to doubt if she can meet the challenge of finding land and building a real house. Meanwhile, Herman waits to find out if the Louisiana courts will hear his latest appeal.

Along the way we meet self-confessed “stick-up kid” Michael Musser, who credits Herman for helping him turn his life around while in solitary; Herman’s sister Vickie, a loyal and tireless supporter despite her own emotional burden; and former long-term solitary inmate and fellow Black Panther activist Robert King who, along with Herman and Albert Woodfox, was one of the so-called Angola 3 that became a cause celebre in the 2000s.

“I’m not a lawyer and I’m not rich and I’m not powerful, but I’m an artist,” Jackie says.

“And I knew the only way I could get (Herman) out of prison was to get him to dream.” There are 2.2 million people in jail in the U.S. More than 80,000 of those are in solitary confinement. Herman Wallace has been there longer than anyone.

With compassion and meaningful artistry, Herman’s House takes us inside the lives and imaginations of two unforgettable characters–forging a friendship and building a dream in the struggle to end the “cruel and unusual punishment” of long-term solitary confinement.


CNN’s Don Lemon on the word cracker vs. the N-word

Simply said: The word cracker when used in reference to white people does NOT have the systematical history of bigotry against a people, in which the N-word was used to demean us as a people.

As details regarding the trial of George Zimmerman continue to be thrown about by talking heads looking to increase their fifteen minutes of fame, the debate over racial slurs has heated up as well. CNN decided to have a debate Monday (July1) over the “n-word” and “cracker” slurs, and attempted to have a serious discussion over which term was more offensive. CNN’s Don Lemon moderated a panel discussion titled “N-Word vs. Cracker: Which Is Worse?,” featuring the likes of Marc Lamont Hill, LeVar Burton, Wynton Marsalis, activist Tim Wise, Global Grind editor Michael Skolnik, and filmmaker Rochelle Oliver. Skolnik and Hill opened up the chat and made strong points, and Wise gave his viewpoints on the back of their sensible statements. Burton turned heads, however, after sharing a story of how when he’s been stopped by cops that he removes his hat, glasses and puts his hands out the window to diffuse the situation. Thankfully, it was universally understood by Lemon and the panelists that there is absolutely no comparing the two terms and their level of offensiveness. Yet that didn’t seem to dawn on CNN writer Tom Foreman, who contends in an article that “cracker” is a deeply offensive term to southern whites. For context, the word has taken center stage after Rachel Jeantel, a friend of slain teen Trayvon Martin, said the boy used the term “creepy @ss cracker” with her on the phone just before his fatal encounter with Zimmerman. Foreman maintains that the word may have flipped the case in favor of the defense team and digs a hole for the prosecution. “But for plenty of rural, white southerners, ‘cracker’ is a demeaning, bigoted term, and its appearance does nothing to help the prosecutors,” writes Foreman. He even goes on to suggest that had Martin survived, under Florida’s hate crime laws, the term could have been used against him in court. Pundits railed against Jeantel, who testified in court that she didn’t know that “cracker” was an offensive term. Whether or not the term qualifies as a slur is up for debate, but as rapper-producer El-P summed up in a tweet last night, “from @CNN tonight: ” N word or cracker…which is more offensive?”. probably the one you won’t spell out, you f-cking hacks. just a guess.”


Black Nativity Trailer 2013 Jennifer Hudson Movie

Academy Award Winners Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson star alongside Jacob Latimore, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson and Mary J. Blige in the Kasi Lemmons directed musical-turned-movie.

Adapted from Langston Hughes’ celebrated play, “Black Nativity” follows Langston (Latimore), a street-smart teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his distant relative Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Whitaker) and Aretha Cobbs (Bassett). Defiant to Reverend Cobbs’ strict rules, a frustrated Langston is focused on returning home to his mother, Naima (Hudson). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey. Along with new friends and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family.

Black Nativity hits theaters November 27th this fall.


Kenya’s President: Mall Attackers Are ‘Defeated’

Kenya has triumphed over terrorists, President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a moving speech on Tuesday in the aftermath of an assault at a popular Nairobi mall that left at least 72 dead, including five gunmen.

After a four-day standoff, Kenyatta claimed to have finally “ashamed and defeated our attackers,” declaring that the last militants still holed up inside Westgate Mall had been killed, though the bodies of many civilians, perhaps dozens, had yet to be recovered, according to a report in the New York Times.

Kenyatta said that “intelligence reports had suggested that a British woman and two or three American citizens may have been involved,” but he could not confirm those reports.

American officials said they had not determined the identities of the attackers and were awaiting DNA tests and footage from the mall’s security cameras, but that the massacre had been meticulously planned to draw “maximum exposure.”

President announces three days of mourning

Kenyatta announced three days of mourning in response to the attack, according to All Africa.

During his televised national address, he said the national mourning period would start on Wednesday.

He confirmed the death toll at 72 – 61 civilians, six security officers and five “terrorists.” Eleven people were being detained, the report said.

Kenyetta also said three floors of the shopping center collapsed during “tail end” of the rescue operation by security forces, and more bodies may be trapped in the rubble.

“Fellow Kenyans, we have been badly hurt and feel great pain and loss, but we have been brave, united and strong. Kenya has stared down great evil and triumphed,” he said.


hi-res-1789545_crop_650.jpg has it right!

Over his reign in boxing, Floyd Mayweather has made more money than anyone, beaten everyone in his path—rather convincingly, too—and crafted a legacy as one of the sport’s greatest boxers. No doubt about it.

But some of Mayweather’s success is a product of the times. In other words, much of his competition was not exactly Hall of Fame material. Conversely, in the 1980s, one of boxing’s prime decades, there were five boxers who would have handled Mayweather rather easily if he had competed in their era or they in his.

Sugar Ray Leonard, who was the first boxer to procure more than $100 million in career earnings, was the entire package and would have stopped Mayweather. He was just as spectacular a defender, with an iron chin and knockout power, and he had a mean streak. Check it: Leonard won titles in five weight classes and defeated International Boxing Hall of Famers Wilfredo Benitez, Tommy Hearns, Robert Duran and Marvin Hagler. Who else can say that?

Marvin Hagler was the undisputed middleweight champion for eight years. He fought at 159 pounds, which was around the weight Mayweather was when he defeated Canelo Alvarez Saturday night. Hagler was an underrated boxer who would have cut off the ring and pounded Mayweather into submission.

Thomas Hearns, the 6-foot-1 aptly nicknamed “The Hitman” and “Motor City Cobra,” was considered a freak to be that tall and skinny, to fight as a welterweight and yet provide some of the most resounding knockouts in boxing history. His speed, reach and accuracy with his left jab and power would have dismantled Mayweather.

Roberto Duran might have quit against Sugar Ray Leonard in their rematch, staining his reputation, but “The Hands of Stone” was as crafty a defender as Mayweather, with more power and more aggression. Duran would have roughed up today’s best pound-for-pound and pounded him to a decision victory.

Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker against Mayweather would have been an intriguing matchup, but perhaps boring because both men would avoid hits and would be effective, but not overpowering punchers. Whitaker, an International Boxing Hall of Famer, won the welterweight and light middleweight championships. Whitaker was more stylish, flashy and significantly, a lefty, and in a close match, would have out-pointed Mayweather.

True when they say, “boxing just isn’t what it used to be”.


Jada Pinkett opens up on her Facebook page

Jada Pinkett opens up on her Facebook page

Jada Pinkett Smith has turned her Facebook page into a philosophical open diary and as she celebrated her 42nd birthday last Wednesday she reflected on who she is and where she is now.

Yesterday she posted a lengthy Facebook status that revealed she fought several addictions when she was younger, but she failed to go into detail about what those addictions were.

She also claims that her problem with addiction stemmed from her inability to deal with the problems that life threw her way.

“What I learned about myself is this, when I was younger I was not a good problem solver, meaning I had a very difficult time with dealing with my problems in life,” she wrote. “I had many addictions, of several kinds, to deal with my life issues, but today, at 42, I have my wisdom, my heart and my conscience as the only tools to overcome life’s inevitable obstacles.”

She said she is proud of herself for finally reaching a point where she can tackle life’s obstacles without struggling with addiction.

“I have become a good problem solver with these tools, and I am damn proud,” she added, thanking her fans for their birthday wishes. “Thank you for all the love that was given to me for my birthday this year. What I hope is that we all continue to gain healthy understanding that life is really about solving problems and also about us learning to become masters at solving them.”

She certainly has faced quite a few obstacles lately after reports of her open marriage caught wind, in addition to several cheating scandals, divorce rumors and accusations of being a bad parent.

In the midst of all the gossip chaos, Jada has insisted that divorce was never a part of the plan for her and husband Will Smith. In fact, she even begged a friend of hers to reconsider divorce.

The star took to her Facebook page once again to talk to her fans about divorce and how it should be avoided at all costs.

Smith claimed that there were times when our “elders” faced drastic decisions in tough times but they took a step back from their relationship.

“Consider taking the route that some of our elders have taken in giving your marriage some space and time before the drastic decision of divorce,” she wrote in the Facebook status. “Answers to big questions need time to find lasting trust vs. the truth of the moment. After this process the answer may be the same, but at least you have the clarity to go about it all with certainty and integrity, but you may also find that spark that could save and rekindle your marriage.”

The lengthy status almost makes you wonder if Jada had to give her marriage with Will “some space and time.” That would certainly explain why the couple feels the need to own so many homes in different locations.