Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Harry Belafonte Dies at 96

Remembering Harry Belafonte, the Singer, Actor and Activist Who Died at 96

Harry Belafonte, who passed away on April 25, 2023, at his home in Upper West Side, New York, was more than just a singer and actor. He was also a tireless activist who fought for civil rights, social justice, and humanitarian causes around the world.

Belafonte was born in Harlem in 1927, but spent part of his childhood in Jamaica, where he was exposed to the music and culture of the Caribbean. He returned to New York as a teenager and served in the US Navy during World War II. After the war, he pursued a career in acting and singing, taking classes with Marlon Brando and Walter Matthau, and performing in nightclubs with jazz legends like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker.

He made his Broadway debut in 1953 in John Murray Anderson's Almanac, for which he won a Tony Award. He also starred in several films, including Carmen Jones (1954), Island in the Sun (1957) and The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959). He became one of the first Black performers to achieve mainstream success and popularity, breaking down racial barriers and stereotypes.

But Belafonte was not content with just being an entertainer. He was also a social activist who used his fame and influence to support various causes. He was a close friend and ally of Martin Luther King Jr., whom he helped financially and politically. He organized concerts and rallies for civil rights, such as the 1963 March on Washington. He also supported anti-apartheid movements in South Africa, famine relief efforts in Ethiopia, AIDS awareness campaigns in Africa, and peace initiatives in Latin America.

Belafonte was also a vocal critic of US foreign policy, especially toward Cuba and Venezuela. He befriended Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and denounced US interventions and sanctions. He also challenged the status quo within the entertainment industry, calling out racism, sexism, and homophobia. He mentored many young artists, such as Sidney Poitier, Usher, and Common, and encouraged them to use their art as a tool for social change.

Belafonte's legacy as an artist and activist is immense and inspiring. He received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the NAACP Spingarn Medal. He also wrote two autobiographies: My Song (2011) and The Last Word (2017).

Belafonte's death was mourned by many people around the world, including President Joe Biden, who called him "a groundbreaking American who used his talent and voice to help redeem the soul of our nation." His daughter Shari Belafonte wrote an essay for Deadline, expressing her disappointment that her father was not given a special tribute at the 2024 Grammys, along with Tina Turner and Tony Bennett.

She wrote: "I believe the Grammys also missed an opportunity to remind the world that there was another great artist and humanitarian who not only changed music forever but changed lives forever."

Harry Belafonte was indeed a great artist and humanitarian who changed music and lives forever. He will be remembered for his songs, his films, his courage and his compassion. He once said: "I did all that I could." And he did.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Youth Wrestler Sucker-Punches Opponent

Sports are usually a thing that brings people together in a competitive manner. However, sometimes people can get too emotional over a loss and may react violently. We see this many times at baseball games, particularly those with rivalries like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Wrestling is no different. 

In Chicago, a young wrestler punched another wrestler after losing a fight. In a video that has gone viral, we see Cooper Corder, 14 giving his hand to his opponent Hafid Alicea who is also 14. However, Alicea responds with a sucker punch knocking down Corder to the mat. Corder was left in a fetal position shaking in pain and nervousness as his mom and others rushed to his aid.  He was bleeding.  A coach or perhaps Corder's father is seen gesticulating and shouting at Alicea as he is taken away.  

The police were called and investigated the matter. Alicea's parents spoke to them, and Alicea himself said he punched Corder simply because he was upset that he lost the match. He was cited for assault.  

This whole incident is unfortunate.  There are calls for the banning of Hafid Alicea, however, there has been no word on whether or not the powers that be will take this course of action. It is clear that a message must be sent to all youth athletes that this behavior cannot be tolerated. Losing is part of life. No one is going to win all the time. Young people need to learn this.  Young Alicea should be taken for a mental health evaluation to see why he is so easily angered and why he misplaces in anger in such a violent way.  If not, things can get worse as he ages. He may fight anyone for any reason or may even become physical with a partner and bring about a domestic violence case.  

Moreover, some took to social media in order to turn this into a racial issue. I have seen tweets stating that "white people seem to become punching bags now" and other racially charged commentaries. This is uncalled for.  While the two boys are of different races, this does not mean the punch was racial in nature. As you can see in this photo above from hudl, Alicea is pictured with a Caucasian wrestler in an amicable embrace. 

We hope the matter can be settled and young Alicea learned his lesson. Sucker punches are for cowards. They are definitely not supposed to exist at a youth sporting event.  

What do you think? Post to disqus below. Remember to follow the rules for posting commentary. 








Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Original Yankee Stadium 100th Anniversary

On April 18, 2023, baseball fans and historians will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the original Yankee Stadium, the iconic ballpark that hosted some of the most memorable moments and players in the sport's history.

The original Yankee Stadium was built on land purchased from the William Waldorf Astor estate for $675,000 in 1922. It was designed by Osborn Engineering and took just 284 working days to construct. It was America's first three-deck stadium and had a capacity of 58,000, which was later expanded to over 70,000.

The first game at the new stadium was played on April 18, 1923, between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees won 4-1, thanks to a three-run home run by Babe Ruth in the third inning. Ruth's blast was the first of many that would make the stadium famous for its short right-field porch and low fence. The game was attended by 74,200 fans, which was then a record for a baseball game.

The original Yankee Stadium soon became known as "The House That Ruth Built", as the legendary slugger led the Yankees to their first World Series title in 1923 and six more championships during his tenure with the team. The stadium also witnessed the greatness of other Yankee legends, such as Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera.

The stadium hosted 100 of the 601 World Series games played until its closing, including 37 clinchers. It also saw 11 no-hitters, including three perfect games by Don Larsen, David Wells, and David Cone. It was the site of many historic events, such as Gehrig's farewell speech in 1939, DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in 1941, Mantle's 565-foot home run in 1953, Jackson's three-homer game in 1977 and Jeter's "flip play" in 2001.

The original Yankee Stadium underwent a major renovation in 1974-75, which altered some of its features and reduced its capacity to 54,000. It closed after the 2008 season when the Yankees moved to a new stadium across the street that replicated some of its design elements. The old stadium was demolished in 2010 and replaced by a public park.

The original Yankee Stadium will always be remembered as one of the most iconic venues in sports history. It was a place where legends were born, records were broken and championships were won. It was a place where generations of fans witnessed history and shared their passion for baseball. It was a place that revolutionized baseball with its grandeur and the success of its team.

What do you think? Post your comment below on Disqus.  Be sure to follow the rules so your comment can go through.  


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