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May 30, 2015

This Unarmed Black Man Is Lucky to be Alive

Every time I hear that a policeman has killed another unarmed black man in the United States, I think about how lucky I am to be alive.

Emails Show How Quickly The Oklahoma SAE Scandal Unfolded

University Of Oklahoma Sae
Brett Deering via Getty Images

How One Massachusetts Jail Cut Its Population By 30 Percent In 6 Years

Jail
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'Stand Your Ground' Redux In Zimmerman Shooting

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Tracee Ellis Ross On Self-Worth And Sexism In Hollywood

Tracee Ellis Ross
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School May Be The Best Place To Address PTSD In Young People, But Resources Are Spread Thin

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42 Black Filmmakers Take Over Twitter To Raise Awareness Around Diversity In Cinema

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Affrm.com

The Moment That Prompted DL Hughley To Make A Life-Changing Promise To His Daughter

Dl Hughley Family
Courtesy of DL Hughley

Dai-Jon Parker Dead At 22

Parker
University of Indianapolis

High School Teammates Carry Out Deceased Football Player's Final Wish

Mailk Sparkman
Coffee County Police Scanner

Roxane Gay: ‘We Demand Perfection Of Feminists. We Do Not Need To Do That.'

Roxane Gay
Marla Aufmuth/TED

Powerful 'Mugshot' Photos Reverse Ugly Stereotypes Of Black Men

Christian Moore
EJ Brown

These Are Bantu Knots, Not 'Mini Buns.' There's A Difference.

Rihanna Bantu Knots
Jason Merritt via Getty Images

Low-Income Black Women At Greater Risk For Heart Disease, Stroke

Women Doctor
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Brandy Has BIG Plans For The Future

Brandy Chicago
Bruce Glikas for Chicago on Broadway

Why It's 'Bullsh*t' That Young Women Have To Be Likable

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Janette Pellegrini via Getty Images

UNC-Chapel Hill Decides It Shouldn't Have A Building Named For A KKK Leader

Unc Campus
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How Manspreading Arrests Highlight What's 'F**ked Up' About Broken Windows Policing

Manspreading
MTA

Bloody Killings Rise As Arrests Plunge In Baltimore

Baltimore Homicides
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pregnant Mom Screams 'Please Stop' As Cops Wrestle Her To The Ground (WATCH)

Charlena Cooks
YouTube

The Story Of Boston's All-Black Police Unit

Police
Frederic Cirou via Getty Images

Ohio Sheriff's Deputy Fired After Comparing Baltimore Protesters To 'Planet Of The Apes'

Racist Tweet
Twitter/Gene Kelly

Memphis Bids Musical Farewell To B.B. King

Bb King
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Black Former Cop: Here's The Truth About Race And Policing

Police
Karen Mower

Suge Knight Refuses To Attend Court Hearing On Robbery Charges

Suge Knight
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Laverne Cox Is Gorgeous And Glowing In No-Makeup Selfie

Laverne Cox
Instagram

Cleveland Patrolman Found Not Guilty In Deaths Of 2 Unarmed Suspects

Brelo
AP

Historically Black University Accused Of Reverse Racism In New Lawsuits

Debra Saunders White Nccu
North Carolina Central University

Cops In Freddie Gray Case Push To Move Trial Out Of Balitmore

Baltimore Nero Freddie Gray
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Court Releases Photo Of Cops Posing With Black Suspect Like A Hunting Trophy

Chicagopd
Court File via Chicago Sun-Times

This Campaign Wants Young Girls To Embrace Their Natural Curls

Curly Hair Girls
Eyecandy Images via Getty Images

Michelle Obama Is The 'Hugger-In-Chief'

Michelle Obama
Timothy Hiatt via Getty Images

Fierce Women On Twitter Are Celebrating ‘Thick Girl Appreciation'

Thick Girl Appreciation Day
Twitter

American Kids Are Poorer Than They Were Decades Ago, Education Report Shows

Classroom
Shutterstock / Olesya Feketa

Cleveland Police Agree To Rein In Force Under Justice Department Agreement

Cleveland Police
Ricky Rhodes via Getty Images

UVA Student Martese Johnson Asks Judge To Drop Charges From Bloody Arrest

Martese Johnson
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Cleveland Clergy Demand Action After Brelo's Not Guilty Verdict

Cleveland Clergy
Daniel Hazard / UCC

Groom Has Flawless Comeback To 'Meninist' Tweet Mocking His Beautiful Wedding Moment

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Dustin Finkelstein

There Are Over 200 Million Fewer Hungry People Now Than 25 Years Ago: U.N.

Africa Children Eating
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One Particularly Upsetting And Racist Dr. Seuss Cartoon Is Heading To Auction

Unn

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Atlanta Falcons Waive Player Accused Of Killing Girlfriend's Dog

Prince Shembo
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18 Women Share The First Time They Were Harassed

First Harassed
Twitter

Keke Palmer Joins Cast Of Fox's 'Grease: Live!'

Keke Palmer
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The Roots, Billie Holiday Among This Year's Philadelphia Music Walk Of Fame Honorees

Billie Holiday
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Mariah Carey Calls 'American Idol' The 'Worst Experience' Of Her Life

Carey Idol
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The Greatest Jokes Ever Told, According To Your Favorite Comedians

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Molestation Claim Against Michael Jackson's Estate Dismissed

Jackson
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Tracy Morgan Settles With Wal-Mart

Tracy Morgan
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Charles Barkley Rips NFL For Its 'Serious Issue With Concussions'

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Nina Simone Biopic Starring Zoe Saldana To Be Released This Year

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Azealia Banks Joins RZA For Musical Drama

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Tracee Ellis Ross Receives Honorary Doctorate From Alma Mater

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This Is What Happens When Black Women Try On 'Nude' Clothing

Nude
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Jay Z Damon Dash
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Your fans will be glad to hear of this, because New Jack Swing was a favorite period in black music. What do you think of today's male R&B singers like Tyrese and Trey Songz?

I had the pleasure of working with those two guys. It was wonderful. The response was so great that people were talking to us about forming an actual group together. We did a tribute for the O'Jays, and the response was just overwhelming.

Let's talk R&B music history. Who are some of the great male singers of the past who have most inspired you?

Let's start with Stevie Wonder. Donnie Hathaway. Luther Vandross. Teddy Pendergrass. Marvin Gaye, obviously. Peabo Bryson. There are a slew of vocalists that have come before me and had a great influence.

How were you affected by the death of Michael Jackson?

Ironically, right before I got on with you, I had just hung up with Janet. I'm kind of like everyone else. It goes beyond Michael as an artist. I've only met Michael a few times, but because of my relationship with Janet – we've been very close for many years – my heart goes out to the family first and foremost.

Then you take a step back to look at what he contributed to the world. That record he has for giving the most as a celebrity? When you look at him giving to so many charities, at his love for kids, which was found never to be anything but that love – to be crucified for it. But, he never wavered. He never got angry. He never said "I'm going to be selfish now." At the end of the day, you have to see the truth about where his heart really was.

In a strange way, I can identify with what Michael went through. I work hard. I give all day every day to people, and it's never reported. But it's not about me being acknowledged. But to work so hard, and then to be crucified. To be lied on. It really has an impact. He really, truly got crucified.

Can you talk about the importance of black music to our struggle in America? How has music strengthened and supported us as a community?

Music for us has been like food. Like air. It has taken us and carried us for many, many years simply because it's all we had. That's why when you look at trends in music we are normally at the forefront of it. And if you look at music in general now, everything started with rhythm and blues. Now it's taken a new shape.

Musical is so magical. It can take you on a journey, from being happy, to being sad. When you look all over the world, even with hip hop, you see kids who, through music, are trying to emulate what we do. I've been all over the world. The love and respect they have for soul music, for black music – it's amazing.

When you look at Elvis, Jackie Wilson had an influence on him. When you look at the Rolling Stones, you are seeing Howlin' Wolf. The Beatles, everyone, if you look back and start to see where their influences come from, it speaks volumes.

There is a big debate every year about whether Black History Month is still relevant. Please share your thoughts and feelings on the month.


I think Black History Month is definitely still relevant. I just think it needs to be on a bigger scale today. It should go above and beyond just a month of reminding people about black history. We are truly some of the most remarkable people on the planet when we think about where we come from. We've had to make something out of nothing. There should be more taught about black history in school, and all over the world. We've come a long way, and we've still got a ways to go.

But when you look at what we have accomplished, it speaks volumes. We have our first black president. That's why I get angry when people act like the honeymoon is over, and they now want to criticize Obama. There is no one man, short of God, who can turn this situation around in one year. Give him some time to work. It really disturbs me to hear people like Danny Glover, people who I have great respect for, talking about what Obama did do and isn't doing. We have to support him and hope that he can continue to pave the way for others to have an opportunity to sit in that position one day, and to have the country have faith and believe that we are capable.



What are the key issues we as a group need to work on as we move forward?

In my 43 years of living, the one thing that I've noticed about our people is that we have many people in our community that think small. A lot of our people are entertained by looking into entertainers' lives. They dwell on it, and talk about it everyday. I wish that we would take a step back and look at people who have made an impact through their work, and get the message that "if they can do it, I can do it."

I did not get where I am today by worrying about other peoples' lives, who's sleeping with who, who's gay, who's straight, who's in, who's not, who's hot, who's not. There has been a focus on who's inspired me and what I want to do with my life from that. We need to look at the people who are accomplished, whether it's Obama, or some of the athletes, or the list goes on to people in different areas. If we look at what some of our African American heroes have accomplished, it's important for that to be the focus. That way we can continue to grow and develop and make headway for the next generation that's coming.

I find that we waste more time in tearing each other down in our own community than anybody. There's nothing that we have taken over, that when we decide to do it, we don't master. Whether it's golf. Whether it's tennis. Whether it's running a country. The list goes on. It's only the people who are focused who understand that you have to keep your eyes on the prize. It's not going to come through sitting around and watching television, or being on the Internet.

Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement to share with the BlackVoices.com audience?

I want us to continue to grow as we have over the years, so that we will be able to look back and see the progress that we've made and that we are making.



Be sure to catch Johnny Gill and other "back in the day" stars as TV One celebrates Black History Month with it's "Way Back When" month of programming.
Tagged as: Black History Month, BlackHistoryMonth, Johnny Gill, JohnnyGill, new edition, NewEdition, tv one, TvOne, Way Back When series, WayBackWhenSeries
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