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We’re still living with the specter of Sam Greenlee’s ‘Spook Who Sat by the Door’

Sam Greenlee_600Sam Greenlee was underappreciated, disgruntled, professionally disemboweled and perpetually agitated.

His sudden death at the age of 83 offers opportunity for reflection on a man trapped in the suspended animation of one great work that briefly elevated, then haunted, him into his last days. An apprehensive and highly educated foreign service officer who abruptly quit the business of American global dominance in anguished pursuit of a lifetime in written word, Greenlee spawned like a lost child of Ralph Ellison.

He will not be forgotten, but he will also be remembered in the starting lineup of a tortured lineage of creative black literary minds way ahead of their time. From George Schulyer ("Black Empire") to Ellison ("Invisible Man") to Chester Himes ("If He Hollers Let Him Go"), hard shift to Greenlee and then John Edgar Wideman ("Philadelphia Fire"), to Brent Wade (the "Company Man" genius who just ... went missing) and now Todd Craig ("Tor'cha"), they and others are temporary flashes of a fire of brilliant black men's acrimony shared through risky, genre-bending books.

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Angela Basset to direct new Lifetime Whitney Houston-Bobby Brown movie

bobbywhitney 600Whitney Houston's story – more specifically her troubled relationship with singer, songwriter Bobby Brown – is scheduled to be chronicled in a 2015 Lifetime movie, named for the beloved singer.

Award-winning actress Angela Basset will make her directing debut with Whitney Houston, telling the story of the couple from "the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity, to their courtship and tumultuous marriage," according to a press release.

"I have such regard for both Whitney's and Bobby's amazing talents and accomplishments; and I feel a responsibility in the telling of their story," Bassett said in the release.

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This Weekend in Memphis!


Friends of the Library Spring Book Sale
10:00am-4:30pm | Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library

The Prodigal Son Booksigning with Kimberla Lawson Roby
1pm-3pm | Barnes & Noble

* Memphis Children's Theatre Festival: Kick-Off Celebration
6:00pm | The McCoy Theatre on the Rhodes College Campus


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Brooks on Brooks! Part I

henri brooks_600If the Shelby County Commission chamber had been a classroom and Commissioner Henri Brooks had been Pablo Pereyra's teacher, the admonishment that she directed at the real estate agent during a May 12th Commission meeting likely would not have caused such a firestorm.

But that was not the scenario that played out. Brooks' upbraiding of Pereyra was a key element in a scene that set off a chain reaction, including calls for Brooks' resignation, an apology from her, or a resolution of censure from the Commission.

During a meeting Tuesday afternoon with the editorial staff of The New Tri-State Defender, Brooks moved to put the swirling controversy in what she considers the correct context.

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The new four-letter word – RACE

mrsmith 600For years I subscribed to the notion of "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt!" It was a mantra that helped a young boy cope with name calling and "check sessions," so that even as you were getting talked about or "checked" you were cool as a cucumber – as long as the person didn't put their hands (or feet) on you.

As I grew into adulthood, I had many a lesson that disproved that notion. And certainly over the past several weeks, we've all been schooled in the power of words and the repercussions of choosing them poorly.

Against the national backdrop of the Donald Sterling saga, we had two unscripted local monologues captured on camera for continuous replay, consideration and deliberation; the first by Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks and the second by my Fox 13 "Insider" counterpart, Andrew Clarksenior. I'll deal with the latter first, as I was directly a part of the discussion with Clarksenior, and the first to check him on his comments.

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