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Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. Talk ‘Harriet’: This Year’s ‘Black Panther’

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Leslie Odom, Jr. and Cynthia Erivo at the Essex House Hotel in NY. (MMoore Photo)

*“Harriet” is this year’s “Black Panther” but with a real-life superhero, Harriet Tubman. She single-handedly rescued 70 slaves after escaping from the plantation.

The deeply religious Tubman aka Mosses then went back to rescue over 700 more. EUR caught up with stars Cynthia Erivo (Harriet Tubman) and Leslie Odom, Jr. (William Still) in New York. Still, a member of the Underground Railroad was instrumental in Tubman’s rescues.

 EUR: Uniformed people are saying they don’t want to see another slave movie, not realizing Harriet Tubman was a warrior, an abolitionist and it’s all depicted in this film. Explain how relevant this film is.

CYNTHIA ERIVO: I think it’s extremely relevant. I think we’re in a time where we need some sort of example of resilience and strength and a will and power from a black woman. Really. We certainly haven’t seen it in the center of a story like this before. And to know that it is a real-life person who existed is really special, and it’s time to tell the story. I was just really proud to be a part of this story.

LESLIE ODOM, JR.: I think it would have been relevant 25 years ago. I think it would be relevant 15 years from now. It’s always good to be reminded of the potential that one person has to change the world and to and to save lives. I know people feel like that. But if Kasi Lemmons (Director) made another slavery movie, I’ll watch it. I’m just one of those people, you know, who would watch every world war II movie you wanna make. I’ll watch every new perspective kicking Hitler’s ass. Like, bring it. So I feel the same way about slave movies. I mean, look, we’re just getting the Harriet Tubman movie now. How many stories have we not heard? That’s my feeling.

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Cynthia Erivo  as Harriet Tubman in “Harriet.”  Photo:  Glen Wilson / Focus Features

EUR: What was it like making this movie and what was its impact on you?

LO: I’m, I’m impacted with every project I work on, which is why I’m careful about which ones I take because you kind of carry them with you. With William and Harriet, it’s just a reminder of the power of the individual. It’s makes me ask questions about what I’m doing with my life, how I’m using my life to help somebody else. How am I being of service?

CE: It was exhausting to the mind, body and soul. It was a lot. There were moments where I was just spent because you are leaning into the emotional turmoil that Harriet was feeling, the loss that you have to go through every time we film a scene. And when we filmed that scene between her and John and them leaving each other, we’re filming that over and over again. Filming the scene of my dead sister, doing it over and over again is painful. So it did impact me. It’s stayed with me. I can remember those moments very, very vividly like they were yesterday. But I knew that it was necessary to tell the story and one can only imagine what she had to actually go through. So having that in my mind, it helped to inform me that whatever I was going through, I was always going to be okay because she managed to make it.

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Leslie Odom Jr. as William Still in “Harriet,” Photo: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

 EUR: The music is definitely a part of the story. The lyric video is so powerful, I find myself watching it over and over again. Was the music another tool that inspires you in some of those scenes?

CE: Music is like my language, you know, so I know the power it has. I know what it means to tell a story. There’s something very special about using it specifically to communicate because you can’t say it. To be able to sing that song it felt like calling the spirits.

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Is Pres. Elect Biden Obama’s 3rd Term? & What 44 Said About Black America’s Progress Under His Watch on ‘Breakfast Club’ (VIDEO)

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Charlamagne Tha God - Barack Obama
Charlamagne Tha God - Barack Obama

Charlamagne Tha God – Barack Obama

*Attorney Antonio Moore discusses the recent Obama Breakfast Club interview during his Book tour.

Moore harshly critiques the interview of Pres. Obama performed by Charlamagne, DJ Envy and Angela Yee.

He also looks closer at President Elect Joe Biden’s cabinet picks and measures them again Barack Obama & Bill Clinton’s prior administrations.

MORE NEWS: Ripped in Their 50s! Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Strip Down for Weigh-in / WATCH

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** FEATURED STORY **

The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)

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EUR emt-smiling-people-800-800x450

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*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.

The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.

“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”

MORE NEWS/RELATED: BMEE Authors: Urgent Steps Are Necessary to Address Implicit Bias in Early Education  

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Stacey Lee, director of the Empower Me Tour. (Photo credit: UNCF)

Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”

The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.

“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”

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Source: Empower Me Tour

Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”

In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.

“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”

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Legendary rapper Bun B is a panelist at the Empower Me Tour. (Photo credit: UNCF)

Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.

“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”

Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”

Register for the virtual Empower Me Tour on November 20 & 21, 2020 here. Spring tour dates will be announced soon. For general information on the United Negro College Fund, go here.

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(Photo credit: UNCF)

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New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’

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Goodbye 2020 Jazzy Rita Shelby
Goodbye 2020 Jazzy Rita Shelby

After all that’s happened this year, it’s time to say Goodbye 2020. New single available by Jazzy Rita Shelby at most digital platforms.

*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.

“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).

It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.

Jazzy Rita Shelby Goodbye 2020 looking up - Copy

Jazzy Rita Shelby is fed up with this year and elated about her new single “Goodbye 2020.” Avail now from SB Music (Written by L. Shelby & E. Miller)

EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.

Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars.  As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.

This year has been a year like no other.  “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead.  Radio Programmers click here for adds.

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“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA.  Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita.  The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture.  “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms.  Click here to listen on Spotify.

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