B. Smith, Restaurateur And Lifestyle Icon, Dies At 70 Of Early Onset Alzheimer’s
LinkedIn
Barbara Elaine Smith is pictured smiling leaning her chin on both hands

The world is less generous and less welcoming because B. Smith, former model, entertainer and lifestyle doyenne, has left it.

At age 70, Smith succumbed to early onset Alzheimer’s, which she had been battling for years. She died Saturday at her Long Island home with family nearby.

Plenty of media have described Smith as the “black Martha Stewart.” And superficially, one could see why: Both women had been models (Smith appeared on the covers of several fashion magazines, the first brown-skinned black model to be featured on Mademoiselle’s cover in the 1970s). Both had a genius for cooking and entertaining. Both eventually built an empire based on their skills (food, decorating, entertaining, home keeping). And when people (mostly white people) called Smith the black Martha, they meant it as a compliment.

Smith saw it as well-intended but shortsighted.

“Martha Stewart has presented herself doing the things domestics and African Americans have done for years,” Smith told New York magazine in a 1997 interview. “We were always expected to redo the chairs and use everything in the garden. This is the legacy that I was left. Martha just got there first.”

True, but Smith made up for that by diving into everything she did with passion.

Born to a steelworker father and a mother who was a part-time housekeeper, Barbara Elaine Smith left her Western Pennsylvania hometown of Scottsdale for a modeling career right after high school.

Barbara became B. as her modeling career took off.

After a successful career with modeling agency Wilhelmina and several lucrative corporate contracts, Smith became interested in restaurants.

She married her second husband, Dan Gasby, in 1992, and together they created an empire that encompassed bestselling cookbooks, the weekly show and a lifestyle magazine that was briefly published by American Express. Eventually there were also housewares, bed linens and even an At Home with B. Smith furniture line.

Smith opened her first eponymous restaurant in Manhattan’s theater district in 1986. Two more B. Smith restaurants followed: one near her weekend home on Long Island and the other in the historic Union Station complex in Washington, D.C.

Smith had been showing signs of forgetfulness for a while. In 2013, after she lost her train of thought while she was doing a cooking demonstration on NBC’s Today, she sought a doctor’s opinion.

The devastating verdict: tests indicated she was in the beginning stages of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She and Gasby went public with the news in 2014. Smith put on a brave face and told the public she intended to live and enjoy life until she couldn’t.

The B. Smith who appeared in a public service announcement the following year was a woman whose wattage had dimmed considerably. Her disease was progressing swiftly. Her famously radiant smile flashed less frequently. Her sparkling eyes looked vacant, she forgot things easily and she once got lost in Manhattan for several hours.

Despite that, she and Gasby did several interviews to educate the public and destigmatize Alzheimer’s. They also wrote a book, Before I Forget, about dealing with the disease. They were determined to try to make a difference, as Alzheimer’s is known to be more prevalent in women and African Americans.

The interviews tapered off, though, as Smith’s condition continued to deteriorate. She lived quietly with Gasby in their weekend home on Long Island Sound. But someone else was living with them and seeking to control the narrative.

In 2018 Gasby confirmed the rumors: He had a girlfriend, Alex Lerner, and together they were caring for Smith. Last year, on Today, Gasby explained to friend Al Roker how painful it was to watch Smith fade.

You meet and fall in love with someone, he explained, “(and they are) the perfect person for you, and you watch them slowly dissolve, and you go down with them …”

Some people understood and sympathized. Others, like The View‘s Sunny Hostin (who had helped care for a grandmother with Alzheimer’s) were appalled.

“I find it very disrespectful that he is with his wife and disrespecting her by being with his girlfriend in their home,” an emotional Hostin told her co-hosts.

Gasby has heard his critics, and it bothers him, but he feels strongly that his life counts, too.

“I believe in the sanctity of marriage,” he told The Washington Post last year, but not in till death do you part. If the person you love, he said, is no longer mentally or emotionally present, he doesn’t believe “that you should sit there and watch your life shrivel up …” (He visited The View to face Hostin and explain his side of the story.

Continue on to NPR to read the complete article.

Mary Wilson, an Original Member of the Supremes, Dies at 76
LinkedIn
Mary Wilson wearing a black dress, red lipstick and a necklace

Ms. Wilson joined with Florence Ballard and Diana Ross — who later emerged as the lead singer — to form one of the biggest musical acts of the 1960s.

Mary Wilson, a founding member of the Supremes, the trailblazing vocal group that had a dozen No. 1 singles on the pop charts in the 1960s and was a key to the success of Motown Records, died on Monday at her home in Henderson, Nev. She was 76.

The death was confirmed by her publicist, Jay Schwartz. No cause was given.

Formed in Detroit as the Primettes in 1959, the Supremes, whose other two original members were Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, made their mark with hits like “Baby Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love” whose smooth blend of R&B and pop helped define the Motown sound.

Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, said in a statement that the Supremes had opened doors for other Motown acts. “I was always proud of Mary,” he said. “She was quite a star in her own right, and over the years continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes.”

She was the only original member still with the Supremes when the group broke up in 1977.

Ms. Wilson was born on March 6, 1944, in Greenville, Miss., to Sam and Johnnie Mae Wilson. She grew up in the Brewster-Douglass Projects in Detroit and began singing as a child. When Milton Jenkins, who in 1959 was the manager of the Primes, a male singing group (two of whose members would later be in the original lineup of the Temptations), decided to form a female version of the act, the original members were Betty McGlown, Ms. Ballard, Ms. Wilson and Ms. Ross.

To get Mr. Gordy’s attention, the group, then known as the Primettes, frequented Motown’s Hitsville USA recording studio after school. They were eventually signed, changed their name to the Supremes and became a trio in 1962.

The Supremes did not fare well early in their career, but they achieved success after they began working with the songwriting and producing team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland — and after Mr. Gordy made Ms. Ross the lead singer. (Before then, Ms. Wilson and Ms. Ballard had shared most of the lead vocals.)

Read the full article at The New York Times. 

Remembering Cicely Tyson, a Trailblazer for Black Women
LinkedIn
cicely tyson sitting down wearing a black blazer

Actress Cicely Tyson spent her seven decade-long career uplifting our value. In the boom of blaxploitation filmmaking, Tyson vowed only to accept parts that rendered Black women with “strength, pride and dignity.” This often left her out of work for months, even years at a time. But her unwavering defiance against roles that demeaned Black people inspired a generation of powerful Black actresses behind her.

After a lifetime of her ineffable grace on stage, in film, and on television, Tyson died on Jan. 28 at 96. Her memoir “Just as I Am” was released last Tuesday, several days before her passing. “My art had to both mirror the times

(Image Credit – Amy Sussman / Getty Images file)

and propel them forward,” she writes. “I was determined to do all I could to alter the narrative about Black people — to change the way Black women inp articular were perceived, by reflecting our dignity.”

Tyson was born in New York’s Harlem neighborhood, the youngest of three to West Indian parents who scraped by to make ends meet. Her parents separated when she was around 11, and she was raised by her strict Christian mother, Theodosia, who did not allow movies or dating.

After graduating from high school, she became a model, appearing in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other publications. She landed her first acting gig on NBC’s “Frontiers of Faith” in 1951. In an act of disapproval, her mother kicked her out. Her mother didn’t speak to her for two years, acquiescing only after seeing her daughter star in a drama at Harlem’s YMCA in 1956.

But Tyson continued, finding few roles in the 1960s for upcoming and talented Black actresses. It wasn’t until 1972 that she would take on a leading role spent years searching for: Rebecca, the wife of a Louisiana sharecropper, in the film “Sounder.” After her husband is imprisoned for stealing food for their children, Rebecca holds up the family in a harrowing struggle and resolve.

Read the full article at NBC News.

 

Cicely Tyson, Pioneering Hollywood Icon, Dies at 96
LinkedIn
Cicely Tyson close up with her smiling

By Carmel Dragan– Variety

Emmy- and Tony-winning actress Cicely Tyson, who distinguished herself in theater, film and television, died on Thursday afternoon. She was 96.

“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” her manager, Larry Thompson, said in a statement. “Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree.”

Photo Credit: Harpo, Inc.

Her memoir “Just As I Am” was published on Tuesday.

Tyson made her film debut with a small role in 1957’s “Twelve Angry Men” and her formal debut in the 1959 Sidney Poitier film “Odds Against Tomorrow,” followed by “The Comedians,” “The Last Angry Man,” “A Man Called Adam” and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.” Refusing to participate in the blaxploitation movies that became popular in the late ’60s, she waited until 1972 to return to the screen in the drama “Sounder,” which captured several Oscar nominations including one for Tyson as best actress.

Tyson received an Oscar nomination in 1973 for Martin Ritt’s drama “Sounder” and an Honorary Oscar in 2018.

Variety reviewer A.D. Murphy enthused that the film was “outstanding” and added, “The performances of Paul Winfield and Cicely Tyson, as the devoted though impoverished parents, are milestones in their own careers.”

Despite her achievements onstage and in films, however, much of the actress’s best work was done for television. In addition to “Miss Jane Pittman,” she did outstanding work in “Roots,” “The Wilma Rudolph Story,” “King: The Martin Luther King Story,” “When No One Would Listen,” “A Woman Called Moses,” “The Marva Collins Story,” “The Women of Brewster Place,” “The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All” and the TV adaptation of “Trip to Bountiful.”

Throughout her career Tyson refused to play drug addicts, prostitutes or maids, roles she thought demeaning to Black women. But when a good part came along she grabbed hold of it with tenacity.

Onstage she was in the original 1961 Off Broadway production of Jean Genet’s “The Blacks” and, decades later, she won a Tony for her starring role in a revival of “The Trip to Bountiful.”

In television she nabbed the first recurring role for an Black woman in a drama series, “East Side/West Side,” and the actress later won two much-deserved Emmys for 1974’s memorable “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” She was nominated a total of 16 times in her career, also winning for supporting actress, in 1994 for an adaptation of “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All”; she was nominated five times for guest actress in a drama for “How to Get Away With Murder.”

The actress became a household name thanks to her starring role in “Miss Jane Pittman.” The TV movie, in which a 110-year-old woman recalls her life, required her to portray the heroine over a nine-decade period. Writing about Tyson’s performance, Pauline Kael compared her “to the highest, because that’s the comparison she invites and has earned.”

She remained an occasional presence on the big screen as well in films including “A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich,” Richard Pryor comedy “Bustin’ Loose,” “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Hoodlum.”

Tyson returned to Broadway in 1983 to star in a brief revival of “The Corn Is Green.”

On television she also appeared in the title role of “Ms. Scrooge,” a gender-reversed adaptation of Charles Dickens, as well as telepics including “Benny’s Place,” “Playing With Fire,” “Acceptable Risks,” “Heat Wave,” “Duplicates,” “A Lesson Before Dying” and “The Rosa Parks Story.”

In 1994-95 she played a Southern attorney in NBC’s brief, civil rights-themed legal drama “Sweet Justice,” and she appeared in a 2009 episode of “Law and Order: SVU.”

In her 70s, Tyson worked more in film than at any other time in her career, thanks in part to Tyler Perry: She appeared in his films “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” (2005), “Madea’s Family Reunion (2006) and “Why Did I Get Married Too?” (2010) as well as in the 2012 Perry starrer “Alex Cross,” which he did not direct. The actress also had supporting roles in “Because of Winn-Dixie,” “Fat Rose and Squeaky,” “Idlewild” and 2011’s “The Help.”

And capping an already-impressive career, Tyson won the Tony for best actress for her role as Carrie Watts in the 2013 revival of “A Trip to Bountiful,” then repeated the performance in a 2014 Lifetime TV adaptation.

Born in East Harlem to West Indian immigrant parents, Tyson rose from humble beginnings. After graduating from high school she worked as a secretary for the American Red Cross before becoming a model; at the top of her game she appeared in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She studied at the Actors Studio and with Lloyd Richards and Vinnette Carroll, who featured Tyson as Barbara Allen in a 1959 Off Broadway revival of the musical “The Dark of the Moon.” She segued into the variety show “Talent ’59” on Broadway and appeared in a production of “Jolly’s Progress” in which she also understudied Eartha Kitt, before a role in “The Blacks” ignited her stage career.

In 1961 Tyson was one of the original cast members in “The Blacks,” which ran for two years at the St. Mark’s Playhouse. Her co-stars included Roscoe Lee Browne, James Earl Jones, Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques. The role of Virtue won her the Vernon Rice Award, a feat she repeated for the 1962 production of “Moon on a Rainbow Shawl.” She starred with Diana Sands in the 1963 Broadway production of “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright,” which closed during a newspaper strike, and later that year appeared Off Broadway in “The Blue Boy in Black” with Billy Dee Williams. She moved on to Carroll’s musical “Trumpets of the Lord” (she also appeared in the 1968 Broadway staging) as well as the 1966 production of “A Hand Is at the Gate,” the 1968 play “Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights” and the 1969 program of Lorraine Hansberry readings “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”

Tyson was also one of the founding members of the Dance Theater of Harlem in 1969.

Interspersed with her stage gigs, Tyson appeared in a number of television shows, including a dramatic presentation of “Brown Girl, Brown Stones” in 1960 and “Between Yesterday and Today.” “East Side/West Side” star George C. Scott, having been impressed by her performance in “The Blacks,” asked for her to play his assistant in the 1963 CBS series. Though the show lasted only 26 episodes, it increased her visibility, and she followed it with appearances on shows including “Naked City,” “The Nurses,” “I Spy,” “Slattery’s People” and “The Bill Cosby Show.”

Tyson was active in charity and arts organizations including Urban Gateways, the Human Family Institute and the American Film Institute. She received awards from the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP as well as the Capitol Press Award.

The actress was one of 25 Black women honored for their contributions to art, entertainment and civil rights as part of Oprah Winfrey’s 2005 Legends Ball.

Read the complete article on Variety.

‘I am woman’ singer Helen Reddy has died
LinkedIn
Helen Reddy smiling at an event

Helen Reddy, singer of the 70’s feminist anthem “I Am Woman,” died Tuesday, according to a statement on her Facebook fan page. She was 78.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29th 2020 in Los Angeles. She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and a truly formidable woman,” said a statement attributed to her children Traci and Jordan.

The Australian singer was also known for “Delta Dawn” and “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady.”

A film biography of Reddy’s rise from single mother in New York City to hit artist — titled “I Am Woman” — premiered last month. The film stars Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Reddy and features a new song by Reddy’s granddaughter Lily Donat.

“I Am Woman” was released in 1971, but didn’t make it to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 until December of the next year. Then, in 1973 Reddy won her first GRAMMY for the song, according to the Recording Academy GRAMMY Awards website.

“I would like to thank God, because she makes everything possible,” Reddy said in her short acceptance speech. She would go on to be nominated for another GRAMMY in 1976.

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away at 87
LinkedIn
Ruth Bader Ginsberg smiling wearing the supreme court justice robe

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, the court announced. She was 87.

Ginsburg was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and in recent years served as the most senior member of the court’s liberal wing consistently delivering progressive votes on the most divisive social issues of the day, including abortion rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights, immigration, health care and affirmative action.
 
Along the way, she developed a rock star type status and was dubbed the “Notorious R.B.G.” In speaking events across the country before liberal audiences, she was greeted with standing ovations as she spoke about her view of the law, her famed exercise routine and her often fiery dissents.

 
“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” said Chief Justice John Roberts. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
 
Ginsburg died surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, D.C., the court said. A private interment service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery.
 
Ginsburg had suffered from five bouts of cancer, most recently a recurrence in early 2020 when a biopsy revealed lesions on her liver. In a statement she said that chemotherapy was yielding “positive results” and that she was able to maintain an active daily routine.
 
“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” she said in a statement in July 2020. ” I remain fully able to do that.”
 
She told an audience in 2019 that she liked to keep busy even when she was fighting cancer. “I found each time that when I’m active, I’m much better than if I’m just lying about and feeling sorry for myself,” she said in New York at the Yale Club at an event hosted by Moment Magazine. Ginsburg told another audience that she thought she would serve until she was 90 years old.

 
Tiny in stature, she could write opinions that roared disapproval when she thought the majority had gone astray.
 
Before the election of President Donald Trump, Ginsburg told CNN that he “is a faker” and noted that he had “gotten away with not turning over his tax returns.” She later said she regretted making the comments and Trump suggested she should recuse herself in cases concerning him. She never did.
 
In 2011, by contrast, President Barack Obama singled out Ginsburg at a White House ceremony. “She’s one of my favorites,” he said, “I’ve got a soft spot for Justice Ginsburg.”
 
The vacancy gives Trump the opportunity to further solidify the conservative majority on the court and fill the seat of a woman who broke through the glass ceiling at a time when few women attended law school with a different justice who could steer the court to the right on social issues.
 
Ginsburg was well-known for the work she did before taking the bench, when she served as an advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union and became the architect of a legal strategy to bring cases to the courts that would ensure that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied to gender.
 
“I had the good fortune to be alive and a lawyer in the late 1960s when, for the first time in the history of the United States, it became possible to urge before courts, successfully, that society would benefit enormously if women were regarded as persons equal in stature to men,'” she said in a commencement speech in 2002.
 
Once she took the bench, Ginsburg had the reputation of a “judge’s judge” for the clarity of her opinions that gave straight forward guidance to the lower courts.
 
At the Supreme Court, she was perhaps best known for the opinion she wrote in United States v. Virginia, a decision that held that the all-male admissions policy at the state funded Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional for its ban on women applicants.
 
“The constitutional violation in this case is the categorical exclusion of women from an extraordinary educational opportunity afforded men,” she wrote in 1996.
 
Ginsburg faced discrimination herself when she graduated from law school in 1959 and could not find a clerkship.
 
No one was more surprised than Ginsburg of the rock star status she gained with young women in her late 70s and early 80s. She was amused by the swag that appeared praising her work, including a “You Can’t have the Truth, Without Ruth” T-shirt as well as coffee mugs and bobbleheads. Some young women went as far as getting tattoos bearing her likeness. A Tumblr dubbed her the “Notorious R.B.G.” in reference to a rap star known as “Notorious B.I.G.” The name stuck. One artist set Ginsburg’s dissent in a religious liberty case to music.
 

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.
Pioneering black NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson dies
LinkedIn
Pioneering black NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson pictured with the stars of Hidden Figures

NASA: Katherine Johnson, a mathematician on early space missions who was portrayed in film “Hidden Figures,” has died.

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions and was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering black female aerospace workers, has died. She was 101.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter that she died Monday morning. No cause was given.

Bridenstine tweeted that the NASA family “will never forget Katherine Johnson’s courage and the milestones we could not have reached without her. Her story and her grace continue to inspire the world.”

Johnson was one of the “computers” who solved equations by hand during NASA’s early years and those of its precursor organization, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

Johnson and other black women initially worked in a racially segregated computing unit in Hampton, Virginia, that wasn’t officially dissolved until NACA became NASA in 1958. Signs had dictated which bathrooms the women could use.

Johnson focused on airplanes and other research at first. But her work at NASA’s Langley Research Center eventually shifted to Project Mercury, the nation’s first human space program.

“Our office computed all the (rocket) trajectories,” Johnson told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in 2012. “You tell me when and where you want it to come down, and I will tell you where and when and how to launch it.”

In 1961, Johnson did trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 Mission, the first to carry an American into space. The next year, she manually verified the calculations of a nascent NASA computer, an IBM 7090, which plotted John Glenn’s orbits around the planet.

“Get the girl to check the numbers,” a computer-skeptical Glenn had insisted in the days before the launch.

“Katherine organized herself immediately at her desk, growing phone-book-thick stacks of data sheets a number at a time, blocking out everything except the labyrinth of trajectory equations,” Margot Lee Shetterly wrote in her 2016 book “Hidden Figures,” on which the film is based.

“It took a day and a half of watching the tiny digits pile up: eye-numbing, disorienting work,” Shetterly wrote.

Shetterly told The Associated Press on Monday that Johnson was “exceptional in every way.”

“The wonderful gift that Katherine Johnson gave us is that her story shined a light on the stories of so many other people,” Shetterly said. “She gave us a new way to look at black history, women’s history and American history.”

Shetterly noted that Johnson died during Black History Month and a few days after the anniversary of Glenn’s orbits of the earth on Feb. 20, 1962, for which she played an important role.

Continue on to WTOP to read the complete article.

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

Lumen

Lumen

Verizon AD

Verizon

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

Statement

#Stopthehate

Upcoming Events

  1. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021
  2. CSUN Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021
  2. CSUN Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022