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‘Hidden Figures’ No. 1 at Box Office, Surpasses Expectations

By Sheryl Estrada

“Hidden Figures” came in almost $2 million above expectations for its wide-release debut. The film has taken the top spot at the box office, slightly edging out “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

“Hidden Figures” sold $22.8 million in ticket sales at North American theaters this past weekend. The Walt Disney Company’s (No. 38 on the DiversityInc 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) “Rogue One” earned $22.1 million in its fourth weekend, according to Friday-to-Sunday box office revenue tallies released on Monday.

The film is based on the true story of a team of African American women, Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), who provided NASA with important mathematical data at the start of the Cold War. The women computed trajectories needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions, including John Glenn’s famous 1962 voyage.

“Hidden Figures” had a limited release on Christmas Day but expanded by more than 2,400 locations on Friday. It received an A-plus grade from ticket buyers in CinemaScore exit polls. Forty-three percent of viewers were white, 37 percent were Black and 13 percent were Latino. Women made up 64 percent of the audience, while 56 percent of all ticket buyers were age 35 or older, according to The Hollywood Reporter. To date, the film has earned a total of $24.7 million against a $25 million budget.

Civil rights attorney Steve Phillips, keynote speaker at DiversityInc’s conference in September and author of the New York Times bestselling book “Brown Is the New White,” used the entertainment industry as an example of how highly talented people of color are often “hiding in plain sight” in the workplace.

He said the now widely famous Lee Daniels, co-creator of Fox’s “Empire,” and Taraji P. Henson, a star of the show, “were there all along, hiding in plain sight waiting to be believed in, invested in, promoted and empowered.”

From a Book Proposal to the Big Screen

The No. 1 film was inspired by the nonfiction book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race,” written by Margot Lee Shetterly. The Sloan Foundation awarded Shetterly a writing grant to complete the book.

FOX 2000 optioned the rights to the book based on her 55-page proposal. So, Shetterly was writing her book as screenwriters Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder wrote the screenplay at the same time. Melfi is also the director of the film. Pharrell Williams is a producer of “Hidden Figures” and a composer of its score.

During a discussion session in August at the joint convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Washington, D.C., Shetterly said it was essential to support the film during opening weekend.

“Go to the movie theaters when it first comes out,” Shetterly told journalists.

She said it would make a powerful statement if people were to support the film and it became successful.

Actor Aldis Hodge, who plays Levi Jackson in the film, said “Hidden Figures” is about American triumph.

“Why do people go to those superhero films?” Hodge said. “We see the hero being that stand out guy or that girl who’s saving the world. This is nothing different.

“At the root of its core, this is about American triumph. The entire country benefited and still benefits from this accomplishment. So, this is a hero story for the country.”

View the trailer for “Hidden Figures”:

“Always Want to Blame God for Your Problems… Blame Yourself!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

For “It was you who practice ungodliness; but now you want to turn around and spread error concerning the LORD…” [Isaiah 32:6] Quit blaming God for your problems! You ruined your own life by your own foolishness, not God! [Proverbs 19:3]. Man up and take responsibility for your actions and stop playing the blame game!

I tell you every time things go bad for us the first thing we want to do is blame someone else; just like Adam did. Adam explained his sin to God by saying, “It was the woman you gave me she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate,” forgetting all along that no one made him eat the fruit. He did not eat because his wife handed him the fruit. He ate because he chose to eat. He knew and understood what was expected of him and what he was not to do. He knew the consequences of his choice and he did it anyway. [Genesis 3:12] And Eve, she blamed the whole calamity on the serpent. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” [Verse 13]. Instead of manning up neither one of them took responsibility for their own actions. I tell you holding God accountable for Satan’s work and your choice is simplistic and naive. Quit blaming God for your problems! The revelation of God being your solution, not your problem, is one that the people of the Old Testament did not have. However, we do have it today and we are responsible for it. So stop playing the blame game! Face up to your wrongdoing! “If you confess your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive your sins, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1: 9]

I tell you, if you don’t have the revelation that God is not the source of your problems, the Bible is a locked book to you. Although God does at times test us in order to strengthen us and teach us to stand; the idea that God would be the source of our sin is warped and antithetical to his nature. I want you to know that David path to forgiveness began when he admitted his sin to God. He didn’t try to evade responsibility; he didn’t blame it on Bathsheba or anyone else. He said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” This is exactly what you need to do: ACCEPT PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY! Even though it is our human nature to blame others, our circumstances or even to blame God, there is no need for us to do so! God knows our sinful condition. He knows every sinful thing that we have done. And He is still willing to forgive us. If you want God to become a more powerful, helpful force in your life, learn to stop holding God responsible for Satan’s work and your choices. Wise indeed is the person who makes no attempt to either hide his sins or to blame others for them. There is great victory in honest and forthright confessing your sins and in accepting full personal responsibility for them. Doing this, you have the assurance [1 John 1:9].

Wisdom has sent out her invitation; will you heed the call and attend the feast? “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…. “[Deuteronomy 30:19]

Alpha Phi Alpha/Alpha Kappa Alpha Host Oratorical Contest

RIALTO, CA– The Mu Xi Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., in collaboration with the Eta Nu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., partner with the Riverside Unified School District to present the 28th Annual Oratorical Contest, being held at Central Middle School in Riverside, on Saturday, February 4, 2017, beginning at 9 a.m.

The aim of the contest is to give area students an opportunity to showcase their speech writing, and oral delivery talents for distinguished guests, family, friends, and community leaders. The event is open to any student in grades 1 through 12. Participants are grouped into 3 grade groups, and three cash awards are presented in each group.

Deadline for applications to be received is January 26, 2017. Due to initial expressed interest, participation will be limited. Students interested in competing are urged to submit an application early. Speeches do NOT have to be completed, to submit an application.

For information on the contest, or to request an application, contact Mr. Kevin Eastman at: eastke1@yahoo.com, or Mrs. Samantha Dotson at: samantha.dotson524@gmail.com. All Riverside Unified School District students should contact Dr. Keyisha Holmes for information: kholmes@rusd.k12.ca.us.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., are community service organizations that service the Inland Empire, by providing mentoring programs for adolescents, and are in involved in numerous social activities and causes through the Inland Empire.

For more information on Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, visit: www.apa1906.net. For more information on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, visit: www.aka1908.com. Information on the Riverside Unified School District may be found on the district web page: www.rusdlink.org.