Monday, November 27, 2006

Bebe Moore Campbell

Bebe Moore Campbell (February 18, 1950- November 27, 2006) was the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Brothers and Sisters, Singing in the Comeback Choir, and What You Owe Me, which was also a Los Angeles Times "Best Book of 2001." Her other works include the novel Your Blues Ain't Like Mine, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the winner of the NAACP Image Award for Literature; her memoir, Sweet Summer, Growing Up With and Without My Dad; and her first nonfiction book, Successful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two-Career Marriage. Her essays, articles, and excerpts appear in many anthologies.

Ms. Campbell's interest in mental health was the catalyst for her first children's book, Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, which was published in September 2003. This book won the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Outstanding Literature Award for 2003. The book tells the story of how a little girl copes with being reared by her mentally ill mother. Ms. Campbell is a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and a founding member of NAMI-Inglewood. Her latest book, 72 Hour Hold, also deals with mental illness.

Ms. Campbell's first play, "Even with the Madness," debuted in New York in June 2003. This work revisited the theme of mental illness and the family.

As a journalist Ms. Campbell wrote articles for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Essence, Ebony, Black Enterprise, as well as other publications. She was a regular commentator for Morning Edition a program on National Public Radio.

Ms. Campbell was born and reared in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and received a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh. She lived in Los Angeles, California with her husband, Ellis Gordon Jr. and had a son and a daughter, actress Maia Campbell. She was an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorported.

November 28, 2006
Bebe Moore Campbell, Novelist of Black Lives, Dies at 56

Bebe Moore Campbell, a best-selling novelist known for her empathetic treatment of the difficult, intertwined and occasionally surprising relationship between the races, died yesterday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 56.

The cause was complications of brain cancer, said Linda Wharton-Boyd, a longtime friend.

Along with writers like Terry McMillan, Ms. Campbell was part of the first wave of black novelists who made the lives of upwardly mobile black people a routine subject for popular fiction. Straddling the divide between literary and mass-market novels, Ms. Campbell’s work explored not only the turbulent dance between blacks and whites but also the equally fraught relationship between men and women.

Throughout her work, Ms. Campbell sought to counter prevailing stereotypes of black people as socially and economically marginal. Though critics occasionally faulted her characters as two-dimensional, her novels were known for their crossover appeal, read by blacks and whites alike.

Often called on by the news media to discuss race relations, Ms. Campbell was for years a familiar presence on television and radio. With the publication of her most recent novel, “72 Hour Hold” (Knopf, 2005), she also became a visible spokeswoman on mental-health issues. The novel, about bipolar disorder, was inspired by the experience of a family member, Ms. Campbell said.

Originally a schoolteacher and later a journalist, Ms. Campbell made her mark as a writer of fiction with her first novel, “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine” (Putnam), published in 1992. Rooted in the story of Emmett Till, the book tells of a black Chicago youth killed by a white man in Mississippi in 1955. After the murderer is acquitted at trial, the narrative follows his increasing dissolution.

“I wanted to give racism a face,” Ms. Campbell said in an interview with The New York Times Book Review in 1992. “African-Americans know about racism, but I don’t think we really know the causes. I decided it’s first of all a family problem.”

Reviewing the novel in The Book Review, Clyde Edgerton wrote: “By showing lives lived, and not explaining ideas, Ms. Campbell does what good storytellers do — she puts in by leaving out.”

Ms. Campbell’s other novels, all published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, are “Brothers and Sisters” (1994), written in the wake of the Los Angeles riots of 1992; “Singing in the Comeback Choir” (1998), about a black television producer feeling cut off from her roots; and “What You Owe Me” (2001), about the friendship between two women, one African-American, the other a Jewish Holocaust survivor, in the 1940’s.

Elizabeth Bebe Moore was born in Philadelphia on Feb. 18, 1950, to parents who divorced when she was very young. Bebe spent each school year in Philadelphia with her mother, grandmother and aunt — strong, upright women she collectively called “the Bosoms” — who set her on a course of study, discipline and staunch middle-class respectability.

She spent summers in North Carolina with her father, who had been paralyzed in an automobile accident. There, she was enveloped in a heady world of beer, laughter and cigar smoke. She documented her contrasting lives in her memoir, “Sweet Summer: Growing Up With and Without My Dad” (Putnam, 1989).

After earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971, Ms. Campbell taught school in Atlanta for several years before embarking on a career as a freelance journalist. Her first book was a work of nonfiction, “Successful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two-Career Marriage” (Random House, 1986).

She also wrote two picture books for children, “Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry” (Putnam, 2003; illustrated by E. B. Lewis); and “Stompin’ at the Savoy” (Philomel, 2006; illustrated by Richard Yarde).

Ms. Campbell’s first marriage, to Tiko Campbell, ended in divorce. She is survived by her husband, Ellis Gordon Jr., whom she married in 1984; her mother, Doris Moore of Los Angeles; a daughter from her first marriage, Maia Campbell of Los Angeles; a stepson, Ellis Gordon III of Mitchellville, Md.; and two grandchildren.

Despite the subject matter of her books, Ms. Campbell expressed hope about the future of American race relations. In an interview with The New York Times in 1995, she described her motivation for writing “Brothers and Sisters,” the story of the friendship between a black banker and her white colleague.

“It was my attempt to bridge a racial gap,” Ms. Campbell said. “That’s the story that never gets told: how many of us really like each other, respect each other.”

You can read one of her interviews here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Octavia Butler

Octavia Estelle Butler was born June 22, 1947 in Pasadena, California. Her father died when she was still a baby, and her mother raised her on her own, working as a maid. She attended Pasadena City College, where she received an A.A. in 1968. In 1969, she went to Cal State - L.A, and also took a class from Harlan Ellison as part of the Screen Writers' Guild Open Door Program.

Her first story, "Crossover", appeared in the 1971 Clarion anthology, but she only had one other sale in the next five years. After working at a number of blue-collar jobs to support herself, she began her notable career with two in the "Patternist" SF series: Patternmaster (1976), and Mind of My Mind (1977). After standalones Survivor (1978) and Kindred (1979), she returned to the series with Wild Seed (1980). Clay's Ark (1984) was another standalone. "Xenogenesis" books Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989) came next. Much of Butler's shorter fiction was collected in Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995). She won the 1984 Hugo for short story "Speech Sounds", and 1985 Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards for novelette "Bloodchild". In 1995, she received a $295,000 MacArthur Foundation ''Genius'' award – the first SF writer to do so.

She is currently developing the "Parable" series dealing with mankind's reaching out to the stars, its origins chronicled in Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998).

"Devil Girl From Mars is the movie that got me writing science fiction, when I was 12 years old. I had already been writing for two years. I began with horse stories, because I was crazy over horses, even though I never got near one. At 11, I was writing romances, and I'm happy to say I didn't know any more about romance than I did about horses. When I was 12, I had this big brown three-ring binder notebook that somebody had thrown away, and I was watching this godawful movie on television. (I wasn't allowed to go to the movies, because movies were wicked and sinful, but somehow when they came to the television they were OK.) It was one of those where the beautiful Martian arrives on Earth and announces that all the men on Mars have died and they need more men. None of the Earthmen want to go! And I thought, 'Geez, I can write a better story than that.' I got busy writing what I thought of as science fiction."


"When I was in college, I began Kindred, and that was the first [novel] that I began, knowing what I wanted to do. The others, I was really too young to think about them in terms of 'What do you have to say in this novel?' I just knew there were stories I wanted to tell. But when I did Kindred, I really had had this experience in college that I talk about all the time, of this Black guy saying, 'I wish I could kill all these old Black people that have been holding us back for so long, but I can't because I have to start with my own parents.' That was a friend of mine. And I realized that, even though he knew a lot more than I did about Black history, it was all cerebral. He wasn't feeling any of it. He was the kind that would have killed and died, as opposed to surviving and hanging on and hoping and working for change. And I thought about my mother, because she used to take me to work with her when she couldn't get a baby sitter and I was too young to be left alone, and I saw her going in the back door, and I saw people saying things to her that she didn't like but couldn't respond to. I heard people say in her hearing, 'Well, I don't really like colored people.' And she kept working, and she put me through school, she bought her house – all the stuff she did. I realized that he didn't understand what heroism was. That's what I want to write about: when you are aware of what it means to be an adult and what choices you have to make, the fact that maybe you're afraid, but you still have to act."


"In Xenogenesis, I bring in the aliens, but in the 'Parable' books I wanted to keep everything as realistic as I could. I didn't want any powers, any kind of magic or fantastical elements. Even the empathy is not real – it's delusional. I wanted to have human beings in that one book find their own way clear. And I used religion because it seems to me it's something we can never get away from. I've met science fiction people who say, 'Oh well, we're going to outgrow it,' and I don't believe that for one moment. It seems that religion has kept us focused and helped us to do any number of very difficult things, from building pyramids and cathedrals to holding together countries, in some instances. I'm not saying it's a force for good – it's just a force. So why not use it to get ourselves to the stars?

"It seems to me we're not going to do that for any logical reason. It's not going to happen because it's profitable – it may not be. The going certainly won't be. The people who work on it will probably not live to see whether or not they've been successful. It's not like, 'In ten years, we'll go to the moon' – which, unfortunately for us, we did. It might have been better if we had almost made it, but then the Russians did ahead of us. If we had lost the race to the Russians, we would be farther along in space travel. One of the reasons going to the moon was a big thing to do was Sputnik. The Russians were sending up their satellites, and ours were crashing and burning. I was a kid with her eyes glued to the television set back then in the '50s.

"In the 'Parable' books, we have one person who decides this is what religion should be doing, and she uses religion to get us into interstellar space. Sower and Talents were the fictional autobiography of Lauren Olamina, though Talents turned out to be a mother/daughter story. There are no more books about her, but I am working on a book (which may or may not come off, and may be called Parable of the Trickster) about people who go, who do fulfill that destiny and go to this other world."


"I've talked to high school kids who are thinking about trying to become a writer and asking 'What should I major in?', and I tell them, 'History. Anthropology. Something where you get to know the human species a little better, as opposed to something where you learn to arrange words.' I don't know whether that's good advice or not, but it feels right to me. You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. It's just so easy to give up!"


"There are a number of myths we live by. For instance, the myth of 'away,' as in 'I'll throw it away.' Where's that? There's no such place. It's going somewhere. Or the myth of 'my little bit won't hurt,' or the obvious myths of 'bigger is better' and 'more is better.' We have all these myths, and we believe in them without even recognizing that they're there. We just act on them – and that's liable to be our downfall."


"I don't think of religion as nasty. Religion kept some of my relatives alive, because it was all they had. If they hadn't had some hope of heaven, some companionship in Jesus, they probably would have committed suicide, their lives were so hellish. But they could go to church and have that exuberance together, and that was good, the community of it. When they were in pain, when they had to go to work even though they were in terrible pain, they had God to fall back on, and I think that's what religion does for the majority of the people. I don't think most people intellectualize about religion. They use it to keep themselves alive. I'm not talking about most Americans. We don't need it that way, most of us, now. But there was certainly a time when many of us did, maybe most of us.

"The religion in the 'Parable' books would probably change over time to make it a more comforting religion. For instance, Lauren doesn't believe in life after death, but that's one of the hopes people have. They know they're going to die, so they have to believe, a lot of them, that there's something else. An interviewer I mentioned this to said she didn't feel she needed her religion to be comforting, and I said, 'Well, that's because you're already comfortable.' It's those people who have so little, and who suffer so much, who need at least for religion to comfort them. Nothing else is. Once you grow past Mommy and Daddy coming running when you're hurt, you're really on your own. You're alone, and there's no one to help you.

"I used to despise religion. I have not become religious, but I think I've become more understanding of religion. And I'm glad I was raised as a Baptist, because I got my conscience installed early. I've been around people who don't have one, and they're damned scary. And I think a lot of them are out there running major corporations! How can you do some of the things these people do if you have a conscience? So I think it might be better if there were a little more religion, in that sense. My mother didn't just say, 'Go to church, go to Sunday school.' I did all that, but I could see her struggling to live according to the religion she believed in. My mother worked every day, sometimes on Sundays, and I didn't have a father, and she still managed to install all this."


"Parable of the Trickster – if that's what the next one ends up being called – will be the Seattle novel, because I have removed myself to a place that is different from where I've spent most of my life. I remember saying to Vonda McIntyre, 'Part of this move is research,' and it is – it's just that Seattle is where I've wanted to move since I visited there the first time in 1976. I really like the city, but it is not yet home. As they tell writers to do, I'll take any small example of something and build it into a larger example. I've moved to Seattle; my characters have moved to Alpha Centauri, or whatever. (That was not literal.) But they suffer and learn about the situation there a little bit because of what I learn about from my move to Seattle. Writers use everything. If it doesn't kill you, you probably wind up using it in your writing."

Gregory Hines

Gregory Hines, a Tony-winning tap dancer, died on a Saturday in Los Angeles.

He was best known for his roles in films such as The Cotton Club (1984), based around the seminal 1920s New York jazz club, in which he played Sandman Williams.

He was also cast alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov in the thriller White Nights (1985), and alongside Billy Crystal in the comic cop thriller Running Scared (1986).

When I realised I was alive and these were my parents, and I could walk and talk, I could dance
Gregory Hines

Hines was an accomplished dancer whose roles in 1980s films often featured his dancing. He was also a respected choreographer.

In 1992 he won a Tony, US theatre's equivalents of the Oscars, for his part in the musical Jelly's Last Jam.

Hines began his entertainment career in the tap dancing act Hines, Hines and Dad, alongside his brother Maurice and his father.

Star at six

Born in New York in 1946, his mother had urged him to become a tap dancer as a way of getting out of poverty. He started tap as a toddler, learning the dance moves his older brother had been taught in dance class.

At the age of six, he was performing at the Apollo Theatre for two weeks with Maurice.

"I don't remember not dancing," Hines said in a 2001 interview. "When I realised I was alive and these were my parents, and I could walk and talk, I could dance."

The two brothers danced in the musical revue Eubie! in 1978. The brothers later performed together in Broadway's Sophisticated Ladies, and then in The Cotton Club. Dozens of film and TV roles followed.

He had his own TV show, The Gregory Hines Show, in 1997, and was also a regular guest star on comedy Will and Grace.

Ed Bradley

"Be prepared, work hard, and hope for a little luck. Recognize that the harder you work and the better prepared you are, the more luck you might have."
- Ed Bradley

The 1999-00 season marks Co-Editor Ed Bradley's 19th on 60 Minutes. He joined the broadcast as co-editor during the 1981-82 season.

Bradley also reports for primetime specials. His report for 60 Minutes II, "Unsafe Haven" (April 1999), made headlines for exposing unsafe restraining methods and poorly trained workers inside the nation's largest chain of psychiatric hospitals. Another primetime report, "Town Under Siege" (December 1997), about a small town battling the oil industry over toxic waste, was hailed as one of the Ten Best Television Programs of 1997 by Time magazine.

Prior to joining 60 Minutes, Bradley had been a principal correspondent for CBS Reports (1978-81), after serving as CBS News White House correspondent (1976-78). He was also anchor of the CBS Sunday Night News (November 1976-May 1981) and of the CBS News magazine "Street Stories" (January 1992-August 1993).

Bradley was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award grand prize and television first prize for "CBS Reports: In the Killing Fields of America" (January 1995), a three-hour documentary about violence in America, which he co-anchored and reported.

His 60 Minutes work has gained much recognition, including his most recent award, a George Foster Peabody last year for "Big Man, Big Voice" (November 1997), the uplifting story of a German singer who becomes successful despite his birth defects.

In 1995, he won his 11th Emmy Award for a 60 Minutes report on the cruel effects of nuclear testing in the town of Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, a report that also won him an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in 1994. That same year, he was honored with an Overseas Press Club Award for two 60 Minutes reports that took viewers inside sensitive military installations in Russia and the United States.

In 1985, he received an Emmy Award for "Schizophrenia," a 60 Minutes report on that misunderstood brain disorder. In 1983, two of Bradley's reports for 60 Minutes won Emmy Awards: "In the Belly of the Beast," an interview with Jack Henry Abbott, a convicted murderer and author, and "Lena," a profile of singer Lena Horne.

He received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton and a 1991 Emmy Award for his 60 Minutes report "Made in China," a look at Chinese forced-labor camps. He received another Emmy for the report "Caitlin's Story" (November 1992), an examination of the controversy between the parents of a deaf child and a deaf association.

In addition to "In the Killing Fields," his work for CBS Reports has included: "Enter the Jury Room" (April 1997), an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award winner that revealed the jury deliberation process for the first time in front of network cameras; "The Boat People" (January 1979), which won Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University, Emmy and Overseas Press Club Awards; "The Boston Goes to China" (April 1979), a report on the historic China visit by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which won Emmy, George Foster Peabody and Ohio State Awards; "Blacks in America: With All Deliberate Speed?" (July 1979), which won Emmy and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards; "Return of the CIA" (June 1980); "Miami: The Trial That Sparked the Riots" (August 1980); "The Saudis" (October 1980) and "Embassy" (January 1981).

Bradley's coverage of the plight of Cambodian refugees, broadcast on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and CBS News Sunday Morning, won a George Polk Award in journalism. He also received a duPont citation for a segment on the Cambodian situation broadcast on CBS News' Magazine series.

He covered the presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter during Campaign '76 and served as a floor correspondent for CBS News' coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions from 1976 through 1996.

In addition, Bradley contributed reports to two significant CBS News specials, "48 Hours on Crack Street" (1986), the broadcast from which the CBS News magazine 48 Hours evolved, and "The Soviet Union--Seven Days in May" (1987).

Bradley joined CBS News as a stringer in its Paris bureau in September 1971. A year later, he was transferred to the Saigon bureau, where he remained until he was assigned to the CBS News Washington bureau in June 1974.

He was named a CBS News correspondent in April 1973 and, shortly thereafter, was wounded while on assignment in Cambodia. In March 1975, he volunteered to return to Indochina and covered the fall of Cambodia and Vietnam.

Prior to joining CBS News, Bradley was a reporter for WCBS Radio, the CBS owned station in New York (August 1967-July 1971). He had previously been a reporter for WDAS Radio in Philadelphia (1963-67).

Bradley was born June 22, 1941 in Philadelphia. He was graduated from Cheyney (Pa.) State College in 1964 with a B.S. in education.


Nov. 9, 2006 — Ed Bradley, one of television's most prominent African-American journalists, died of complications from leukemia Thursday. He was 65 years old.

A longtime correspondent for CBS News' "60 Minutes," Bradley's probing questions and salt-and-pepper beard distinguished him for millions of TV viewers. He died this morning at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City.

Bradley was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago but was in remission. He apparently took a turn for the worse two weeks ago, contracting pneumonia and succumbing to the disease.

Colleagues and fans remembered him fondly. "He was the equal of all the celebrities he interviewed, which is why he got so much rich material out of them … because they knew he understood them," said ABC's "Nightline" correspondent Vicki Mabrey, who worked with Bradley at CBS. "I used to call him Mr. Cool."

Bradley, who first joined "60 Minutes" in 1981, won 19 Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the Paul White Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association for his reports. The Philadelphia native started out as a DJ, making $1.50 an hour spinning Miles Davis and Billie Holiday records.

Bradley's last "60 Minutes" story — interviews with suspects and witnesses in the Duke rape case — made headlines. During his long career, Bradley interviewed a panoply of personalities — Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson. Bradley got the only TV interview that Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, granted to television.

Some of Bradley's other memorable reports included China's forced labor camps, the devastating effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on a town in Kazakhstan, the impact of schizophrenia, and an unprecedented look at how juries deliberate.

While reporting for CBS in Vietnam, Bradley was once injured in a mortar attack, narrowly escaping death. "The guy who was standing 2 feet from where I had been standing was killed," he told Communicator magazine. "I got some shrapnel in my back, and it blew a hole through my arm. It just sliced through my arm, so I was lucky. I was lucky."

Although one of the first African-American reporters on national TV, Bradley refused to be pigeonholed by his race and doesn't remember letting racism intimidate him. "I probably was too naive to be afraid [when I started out]; that's because there was no one really ahead of me as a trailblazer," Bradley told USA Weekend. "I mean, I had nuns in school who always said to me, from the fourth grade on, 'You can be whatever you want to be.' I guess I believed them."

Bradley was known for his love of jazz, which first touched his heart when he heard "Teach Me Tonight" from Errol Garner's "Concert by the Sea." He frequently attended the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and often sat in with the musicians. Bradley was lured back into DJ work when he recently hosted the "Jazz at Lincoln Center" radio show.

Accordingly, Bradley has said that his most memorable interview was with jazz legend Lena Horne. The intimate portrait, in which he alternated Horne's performances with his questions, became a "textbook example of what a great television interview can be," wrote TV Guide. "Lena" earned Bradley his first Emmy.

A lifelong sports fan, Bradley was a fixture at New York Knicks basketball games and the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

Bradley was married to the artist Patricia Blanchett and had homes in Woody Creek, Colo., and New York City.

taken from Top Blacks

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