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Rev. Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young & more attend Advanced Screening of ‘Maynard’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

The Atlanta Film Festival (AFF) and Auburn Avenue Films hosted a special advanced screening of the highly anticipated documentary MAYNARD. The invitation only event took place at the historic Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State and was attended by Civil Rights icons the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Ambassador Andrew Young.

MAYNARD chronicles the life and legacy of Atlanta’s first African American Mayor Maynard H. Jackson.  He made American history in 1973 as the first black man to govern a major southern city and was instrumental in laying the foundation for Atlanta becoming a major metropolis. Jackson is also credited for creating the blueprint for the city’s bustling arts and entertainment scene and was the visionary behind the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. He also increased minority business participation in the city and was the driving force behind Atlanta becoming the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. He died at the age of 65 in 2003.

Maynard Jackson III + Wendy Eley Jackson

MAYNARD is directed by award-winning filmmaker Samuel Pollard and presents an intimate view of Jackson from those who knew him best. The film includes video archival footage and photographs, and rare interviews with family and co-workers who helped sustain the Maynard movement during his three terms as Mayor and beyond.  Commentary was given by Jackson’s first wife Bunnie Jackson-Ranson and his second and final wife, Valerie Jackson and is five children. The film also includes Reverend Al Sharpton, former President Bill Clinton, Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, Vernon Jordan and former Atlanta Mayors—Shirley FranklinBill Campbell, Sam Massell and Kasim Reed.

MAYNARD producing team on stage

MAYNARD is executive produced by Maynard H. Jackson IIIWendy Eley JacksonBrook Jackson EdmondElizabeth Jackson Hodges and Howie C. Hodges. It is also produced by Jason OrrWinsome SinclairDonald JarmondKozmo MillerAutumn Bailey and Dolly Turner.  Award winning musician Phil Davis created the film’s score.

Check out more photos below from the screening including a post Q&A session featuring Rev. Jackson and Ambassador Young:

Atlanta Film Festival Executive Director Chris Escobar + BronzeLens Film Festival Executive Producer Kathleen Bertrand served as the screening’s hosts

Director of Atlanta’s Office of Film & Entertainment Chris Hicks

GPB’s President & CEO Teya Ryan

Ambassador Andrew Young + Rev. Jesse Jackson +

moderator & AJC writer Ernie Suggs 

Reverend Jesse Jackson 

MAYNARD producer Jason Orr + MAYNARD music composer Phil Davis 

MAYNARD producers Winsome Sinclaire + Donald Jarmond

The Maynard Jackson Family

Click here and listen to my UPFRONT interview with Maynard Jackson III and Wendy Eley Jackson as they discuss MAYNARD and more!

Photo Credits: Ray


Shaun Robinson to host Spelman’s Woman of Color Leadership Conference

Access Hollywood’s  Shaun Robinson/Photo Credit: Zimbio

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

This May, Spelman College will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of its pre-eminent annual Leadership and Women of Color Conference. Themed “21st century Leadership: Leading Forward,” the 2014 conference will explore several essential components vital to leadership success.

Featuring groundbreaking women across a variety of fields, conference speakers include retired NBC Universal Chief Diversity Officer and multimillion dollar businesswoman Paula Madison; Major General Marcia Anderson, the first African-American woman Major General in the U.S. Army Reserve; civil rights icon Roslyn Pope; former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin; award-winning journalist and host of NPR’s “Tell Me More,” Michel Martin; and award-winning journalist, editor, author and Essence Magazine Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Bush, among others.  Hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist and Access Hollywood host Shaun Robinson, the two-day event will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center, May 14 -15, 2014.

“This year’s theme, Leading Forward speaks to the advancement of women over the next decade,” said Jane E. Smith, Ed.D., executive director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (LEADS) at Spelman. “At this special 10th anniversary conference, we are featuring women who currently lead global strategies that improve organizational and personal effectiveness. Through this gathering, we will solidify collaborations that will strategically lead both businesses and communities into the future.”

The 10th Anniversary Spelman College Leadership and Women of Color Conference will begin at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, with the “Game Changers: A Decade of Success” Luncheon at the Georgia International Convention Center.

Click here for more information!

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Cast of ‘A Different World’ reunite at ATL’s ‘Drum Major of Justice Gala’ (PHOTOS)

A Different World’s Charnele Brown, Dawnn Lewis and Jasmine Guy

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

The SCLC Women, Inc. Drum Major for Justice Awards Gala was held Friday night at the Hyatt Regency downtown Atlanta. This year’s 35th anniversary celebration saluted three champions of civil and human rights—SCLC Women, Inc. founder Evelyn Lowery, First Lady Michelle Obama and Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin.

The evening featured moving tributes from SCLC Women, Inc. interim chair Scarlet Pressley-Brown, Elder Bernice A. King and Atlanta media mavens—Karyn Greer, Monica Pearson and Lisa Rayam. Trumpet Awards creator Zernona Clayton, Ambassador Andrew Young and his wife Carolyn Young and C.T. Vivian saluted the honorees during video presentations.

However, the real treat of the night was the reunion of A Different World  cast members Charnele Brown, Dawnn Lewis and Jasmine Guy. The three divas recognized female pioneers that had changed the course of African-American history with a dramatic reading titled A Different World, Thanks To You.

Also in attendance were gala co-chairs, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Georgia Pacific Corporate Affairs executive Charmaine Ward. Christine King-Farris (sister of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and Rev. Joseph Lowery was there with his three daughters – Yvonne Kennedy, Karen Lowery and Cheryl Lower-Osborne.

The gala was co-hosted by actor Mykelti Williamson and radio & TV personality Mo Ivory while gospel great Dorothy Norwood closed out the evening with a medley of inspirational tunes.

Check out some pictorial highlights below:

Stop the Killing

 SCLC/Women, Inc. National Memorial STOP THE KILLING QUILT

Dr. Christine King-Ferris

 Dr. Christine King-Ferris (sister of MLK) poses with gala attendees

CAU Gospel Choir

 Clark-Atlanta University Choir perform “We Shall Overcome”

Karyn Greer and Monica Pearson

 Atlanta media mavens Karyn Greer and Monica Pearson

Sybrina Fulton speech

 Sybrina Fulton delivered a moving acceptance speech

Synbrina Fulton2

 Mykelti Williamson, Mo Ivory, Sybrina Fulton and SCLC/Women, Inc. interim chair Scarlett Pressley-Brown

Daughters of the movement

 Daughters of the Movement: Elder Bernice A. King, Nancy Hill Cooke, Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe

and a Spelman student who stood in for Elizabeth Omilami


Monica Pearson, Karyn Greer and Lisa Rayam

Dr. Joseph Lowery

 Rev. Joseph E. Lowery

A Different World2

 Charnele Brown, Dawnn Lewis and Jasmine Guy

Shirley Franklin

 Scarlet Pressley-Brown, Lowery and daughters, Shirley Franklin and Charmaine Ward

Dorothy Norwood

 Dorothy Norwood took the audience to church with gospel music favorites

Photo Credits: Megan Alodie for


Nat’l Center for Civil and Human Rights breaks ground with ‘Speak Truth to Power’ event and historic Shovel Ceremony…

Written by | Ray Cornelius

All eyes were on Atlanta, GA this past week as a number of politicians; social justice supporters and entertainers broke ground for The National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

The two-day celebration began Tuesday evening with a dramatic monologue reading called Speak Truth to Power  written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ariel Dorfman.  The hour-long presentation featured excerpts from more than 50 global human rights activists and included actors Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Lynn Whitfield, Sharon Leal and new comer Ali Amin Carter as guest readers.  The event was held at Georgia State’s Rialto Center for the Arts and was attended by Atlanta socialites and celebrities including Judge Glenda Hatchett; who says Atlanta is the perfect city for the Center:

“Atlanta is unique not just to this nation but to this world.  How appropriate that there would be a center to house and be a teaching vehicle for people all over the world.  We have been on the cutting edge for generations.”

The Official Shovel Ceremony took place on Wednesday morning and featured a number of Atlanta dignitaries including Mayor Kasim Reed, former Mayor Shirley Franklin, Ambassador Andrew Young, playwright and author Pearl Cleage, actress Dawn Lewis, Sister of Martin Luther King Jr. Christine King Farris and Elder Bernice King.  Musical entertainment was provided by Les Nubians.

NCCHR CEO, Doug Shipman had this to say about the 18,000 sq. ft. facility that will house The King Papers as well as  a state-of-the-art broadcast studio.

“Our vision of opening a cultural institution where people can learn about global civil and human rights struggles continues with this significant milestone.”

The Center will be located in the heart of Atlanta adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park, The New World of Coca-Cola and The GA Aquarium and is slated to open its doors in 2014.

Here are some highlights from both events courtesy of Tiffany Powell Photography

Speak Truth to Power

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin

NCCHR CEO Doug Shipman and Civil Rights Pioneer C.T. Vivian

Actor Ali Amin Carter and Ray Cornelius

Actress Lynn Whitfield and Ray Cornelius

Annie Casey Foundation’s Mtamanika Youngblood and Author Pearl Cleage

Shovel Ceremony featuring Mayor Kasim Reed and Ambassador Andrew Young

Les Nubians

Shovel Ceremony featuring MLK Family: Elder Bernice King and Christine King Farris