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Riverside Community Residents Gather Together for Peaceful Protest

RIVERSIDE, CA-Last Thursday, after days of rallied in the Inland Empire decrying perceived police brutality in the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, protestors marched through Riverside demanding not just justice being brought to the system, but unity.

Riverside residents Jeff Luckey, 22, and Anthony Curtis, 23, said that was the goal in organizing the march, which started at noon outside City Hall, continued with a march toward Riverside Plaza about 2 1/2 miles away and ended about 3 p.m.

“Right now nobody’s together,” Luckey said. “We don’t want this to be a black thing or a white thing, we want to develop a solution.”

There were approximately 75 people that attended the protest at the plaza. Some held signs and many chanted as they walked saying, ““Hands up, don’t shoot,” a slogan that has become a rallying cry for those protesting police shootings of black men.

Hennesy Brown, of Ontario, attended the march with her 1-year-old son King and her 9-month old son Angel. Brown chose to participate in the event to raise awareness in the community so that her sons won’t share the fates of Sterling and Castile.

“I don’t want my sons to become a hashtag,” Brown said.

By 2 p.m., the crowd at the plaza had grown to about 100. People were initially standing in the street in front of the movie theater, blocking traffic and forcing cars to turn around, but they moved when requested by police. “I love the diversity, it shows that its not just black people who are affected,” Brown said.

“I’m glad to see that Riverside does care about its people,“ May said. “The city has a lot of heart.”

Inland Empire Black Millennial Entrepreneurs Speak Up about the Current National Race Issue

By Naomi K. Bonman

The week of July 5 was a very emotional and overwhelming time for not just our Black community, but for the Nation as an entirety. With the shootings of two unarmed Black men and then the event in Dallas, Texas, as a Black community we have become fed up.  We are tired. Tired of the same cycle that keeps happening and has been happening for decades with no hope of ever changing.

From protest after protest, stand-in after stand-in, and boycott after boycott, nothing is changing. It is like we are working hard to seek justice and for equality rights, but constantly being ignored by the system. We feel alienated from society, as well as used and abused. Our culture in America has constantly been mocked, mocked for centuries.

Since the 1960s Civil Rights Movement very little change has happened. Racism in America has taken a reverse turn. So what is the solution? What have we as a community been doing wrong and what do we need to do to start seeing REAL change? Three Black millennial entrepreneurs have spoken up on the issues that have seen in the years and what they feel needs to be done in order for change to prosper.

“When you do not know who you are anyone can come along and give you an identity! It’s time for us to know who we are, be proud of who we are, stop shaming,” Author T’ana Phelice states. “It’s time for Black men and women to begin to celebrate one another again. It’s time to raise our children as a village and take pride in having a disciplined community. It’s time to mend fences and break chains that are meant to separate us. It’s time to unite! It’s time to make God popular again!

Author and playwright, T’ana Phelice (31), from San Bernardino feels that in order for us to do better and make permanent changes that our community needs to be honest. We need to start being ashamed. We need to start being persistent. We need to educate ourselves on historical information; things that affect us and our children.

Marketing guru, Jay Parnell (33), of Perris speaks on the desensitization of our children. He believes that the current generation has been desensitized by how they are being marketed to through music, television, and social media. These media outlets have the power to develop and alter a person’s ideology.

Starh, owner of Fancy Cartel, from San Bernardino sums everything up with in order for change to come, the issues at hand need to be addressed. Once the current issues within our community are addressed we can then come to an agreement to start seeing the change that we all have longed for.

To listen to the full commentary, click below:

Hollywood Next: Jeff Friday’s American Black Film Festival Fuels The Future

By Ronda Racha Penrice, Urban News Service

When Jeff Friday traveled to his first Sundance Film Festival to catch Love Jones in 1997, what struck him most is what he didn’t see.

“I returned from Sundance very inspired by what I saw there, but what I did not see was filmmakers of color,” says Friday. “So I came back to New York inspired to create something like it that really served as a platform for black filmmakers.” That’s when Friday first envisioned the American Black Film Festival.

Back then, the Newark native and Howard University alumnus — who holds an MBA from New York University — worked as a high-ranking advertising executive at the black-owned UniWorld Group. There, he oversaw marketing campaigns targeting African-American moviegoers. Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism, a UniWorld client, loved the concept and hosted the event in Acapulco.

Ninety people, including longtime supporters Bill Duke and Robert Townsend, attended that very first Acapulco Black Film Festival. Nearly 800 arrived the next year, and 3,500 attended in 2001. The festival moved to Miami Beach in 2002 and domesticated its name to the American Black Film Festival. From South Beach to L.A. and New York City, the site of 2015’s gathering, between 5,000 and 10,000 regularly attend.

While there are many other black-oriented film festivals, Friday’s uniquely integrates black Hollywood veterans, new talent and numerous corporate partners.

“The artistic community, the actors, the writers, the producers, the directors, they all support us, and the corporate community,” says Friday. “You need companies to support [the festival], so we’ve been very, very successful at getting companies to understand the importance of the mission, the importance of diversity. This was before #OscarsSoWhite, so it was a little more difficult getting companies to understand the importance of inclusion in film and TV.”

Founding partner HBO, known for its signature HBO Short Film Competition, got it from the start. The festival also has welcomed, among others, Fox Searchlight, Starz, TV One and Universal. In addition, it has sought non-traditional partnerships. Cadillac has been a long-term partner. And, this year, McDonald’s sponsored the “My Community” national video competition for aspiring black filmmakers, giving them a chance to be mentored by The Best Man writer/director Malcolm D. Lee. Prudential presented a seminar with Oscar-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter (Malcolm X, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Black Panther).

The players may change, but the festival’s primary mission never does. “This was always about empowering people of color to make movies and being a platform for supporting the next generation,” Friday says.

Actress Emayatzy Corinealdi remembers this support the most. “They’re about nurturing you and giving you opportunities,” says Corinealdi, winner of the 2010 Rising Star award, a festival honor first given to Halle Berry. Corinealdi’s recent credits include Roots and Miles Ahead.

Producer Will Packer (Uncle Buck, Think Like a Man) and actor/director Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails) are other talents whom this festival embraced early on. And they give back. At this year’s gathering, Packer hosted a “first look” for his latest film, Almost Christmas. Parker did the same with his highly anticipated Nat Turner slave-rebellion film, The Birth of a Nation. Corinealdi was a “Black Women in Hollywood” panelist.

Serving the black film community beyond the festival is very much on Friday’s mind these days. To honor black Hollywood pioneers and welcome new talent, Friday and his team conceived the ABFF Awards as a private dinner long before the #OscarsSoWhite firestorm resulted in BET televising the affair this past February. That successful partnership led to the inaugural ABFF Encore during the 2016 BET Experience, which supports the BET Awards. Standouts included a master class with Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and indie pleaser Destined from this year’s festival.

Other efforts include the short film showcase ABFF Independent on the Magic Johnson-owned network Aspire, as well the series For the Love on Comcast/Infinity, featuring industry interviews with such shakers as Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the husband-and-wife team known for Being Mary Jane and The Game.

Friday is also confident that a more embracing Hollywood vanguard — like the Oscar-granting Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ recent membership invitation to a record number of black film professionals — won’t drop the curtain on the American Black Film Festival.

“The general market can’t possibly serve our community like we can serve our own, and I promise that won’t change,” Friday says. “We will always have a space to focus on our own.”