Dallas South News Post of the Day – Color Purple Play Review

From Dallas Hyperlocal News Site DallasSouthNews.org

By Me

A talented cast brings Alice Walker’s classic The Color Purple to life on the stage of The Music Hall at Fair Park. Many felt that Steven Spielberg’s adaptation for the screen was as good as it gets, but since opening on Broadway in December of 2005, the play has proved otherwise.

The Color Purple is billed as “The Musical about Love” but I think it’s more of “A Musical about Survival.” From the moment I saw Celie and Nettie appear at stage right clapping hands, I leaned over to my wife and said “I’m already sad.”

But there wasn’t enough time for me to dwell on the Hell that Celie was about to endure, because immediately my spirit was lifted by the company performance of “Mysterious Ways.” For a moment I thought I was in church and it took everything in me not to stand up and start clapping my hands.

The play stands on its own, and I rarely found myself comparing it to the movie. But it was comforting to hear many of the famous lines that have been repeated over and over through the years:

You told Harpo to beat me?

All my life I had to fight….

You sho’ is ugly!

Until you do right by me…

When you think of all the horrible things that are a part of this story, you wonder why anyone would want to sing or dance at all. But the Tony Award nominated play brings laughs when they are needed and characters break into song at just the right time.


One thing I do appreciate about the play is that the male characters (namely Mister) have the chance to redeem themselves. Not that redemption is a must when it comes to art, but Spielberg’s Color Purple paints a God awful picture of Black men. Rufus Bonds, Jr.’s portrayal of Mister is at its best when the character is at his worst. But I still found myself enjoying the character getting his act together in the end. And Stu James’ Harpo was steady throughout, not the dithering coward on Spielberg’s screen, but more of a naive, henpecked, hard working brother.

Sofia is played by Felicia (Hell No!) Fields who earned a Tony nomination for her portrayal on Broadway. It’s obvious why she garnered such high praise. And Shug Avery is played by Angela Robinson, who is electric leading the entire company through “Push Da Button.”

But this is a play about Celie, and Kenita R. Miller is more than up to the task of leading the way. Throughout the night I tried to picture Fantasia in the role and it was difficult, maybe because the two actresses are so physically different. Miller’s vocals were amazing, and her solo “I’m Here” was a signature moment of the show.

The Color Purple

Angela Robinson (C) as Shug Avery

The one negative of the evening came in the form of technical problems with the sound system. There was a crackle that came through the speakers on more than one occasion as some of performers spoke their lines during ACT II. But it wasn’t enough to take away from the enjoyment of the crowd. After the show, attendees (including us) sang the show’s praises in the halls out, out the doors and all the way to their cars.

The Color Purple has seven more performances, ending its Fair Park run on January 24th. Tickets are available online at www.ticketmaster.com. If anyone asks if they should skip out and catch the show another time, I’ll have two words…..Hell No!.

DSN Post of the Day: DallasSouthNews.org and The Wolf Group to host watch party for MTV’s “The Buried Life”

By Shawn Williams – Dallas South News Editor

What Do You Want To Do Before you Die? That’s the premise of a new MTV Reality Show that will feature a local artist in their 2nd episode that is set to air later this month.

On Monday January 25th, MTV’s “The Buried Life” will focus on the story of Sam Fuller and his quest to reunite with a son he had not seen in 17 years. Dallas South News is teaming up with The Wolf Group to host a Buried Life Watch Party at 3900 Willow Street near Deep Ellum starting at 7:30 P.M (show starts at 9 o’clock). Sam Fuller will be the featured guest with a special appearance from another star of the episode.

Sam Fuller (L)

Sam Fuller (L)

MTV’s “The Buried Life” centers around four young Canadians traveling across the world looking to mark items off of their “Bucket List.” While knocking out things they’ve always wanted to do, the guys also help others achieve some of their life dreams.

Trailer – MTV’s “The Buried Life”

On a trip through North Texas, the crew came across a gentleman selling his art near downtown Dallas. Dallas South News has chronicled the events that followed the initial meeting which have taken Fuller from living in a shelter to opening a studio in the Artists Quarters at the Southside on Lamar.

3900 Willow

3900 Willow St.

But even after opening the studio in late November one thing remained: Sam had not yet met his son. But watching the trailer (which I showed Sam yesterday for the first time) it looks like Duncan Penn (one of the show’s stars) and his buddies may have just made it happen. But I guess we’ll have to find out for sure on the 25th.

DSC00099 DSC00096 DSC00093

Fuller will also have some of his work on hand at the watch party. I’d say secure your pieces while you can, because the exposure of this artist is about to take off.

Anyone interested in attending the watch party can RSVP to michael@dallassouthnews.org. More information will follow in the weeks to come.

Who: Dallas South News and The Wolf Group featuring Sam Fuller

What: Watch Party for MTV’s “The Buried Life”

Where: 3900 Willow Street in Dallas

When: Monday January 25th starting at 7:30 p.m. (show airs a 9PM)

Why: To support Sam Fuller and his art

John Spriggins’ “Paper Dolls” debuts at the South Dallas Cultural Center October 24th

Cross posted at Dallas nonprofit news organization DallasSouthNews.org

On Saturday, South Dallas artist John Spriggins will open a new show just down the street from his work space.  Spriggins latest work “Paper Dolls” debuts at the South Dallas Cultural Center on October 24th and is a look at how media influence female self image.

John Spriggins and one of his "dolls"

John Spriggins and one of his “dolls”

Early this week I visited John at his studio as he prepared for the show and had a chance to look at some of the 20 images that make up “Paper Dolls.”  Spriggins drafted some of his female friends and acquaintances to pose for a work that offers his take on female sense of self and how self perception is developed.

The idea came about as Spriggins and a cousin talked about what it’s like raising daughters in this day and age.  He looked at the images that females receive through various forms of media, but eventually settled on how magazines covers speak to women.

If you look closely enough, you may catch that the poses and theme are a nod to the paper dolls that were popular in previous centuries, when little girls would cut out clothes on a sheet of paper and paste them on the “perfectly shaped” women on the page.  From cartoons to commercials, images of how women should look, think, and feel constantly bombard them.

“The women that I spoke with have (image) issues that come from a variety of places,” Spriggins says, “and these magazines offer redundant information and quick fixes.”   After giving the models a survey of 10 questions, he used the their answers to fill the “paper doll” silhouettes with messages he clipped from magazine covers.

Paper Dolls

Paper Dolls

Dallas South News will do a full review of the show next week, but I will say that seeing images of these pieces on Facebook did nothing for what they look like up close.  There are multiple levels of interaction that take place between the 20 dolls and their guests.  Each image is so rich with detail and so full of information that the project should lend well to multiple viewings.  I can’t wait to meet these ladies again on Saturday.

“Paper Dolls” opens Saturday October 24th at 5 pm where John Spriggins will talk about his motivation for the work. The event is free and open to the public. The “Paper Dolls” exhibition runs through November 28, 2009.

Poem: All Along

Written by Tina Arradondo

What’s on the other side sometimes I know is not for me,
I can see through some mountains so clear and perfectly…

Is it my fault that I have wisdom that others may see as strange?
I feel things that others don’t and so I claim it cause It can’t change.

Is your death predetermined at the time you were conceived?
Or do you believe you can make choices that can change what’s
meant to be?

God said “BE” and there I was, put on this path so am I the judge
of how I view what’s in my path whether it’s money, sex, lies or

The path I’m on is full of twists and turns and mountains I can’t
climb. When I say can’t, I do mean CAN’T. It doesn’t matter
if I tried.

My mind is perfect. The world is flawed. I was created by Divine
Law. It’s logical that I’d feel radical if to me the ‘norm ain’t normal.

I feel, “whats being bought should’ve never been sold”, You feel, “what’s
being sold should’ve never been bought”. So what’s real?

I feel, “Whats being taught should’ve never been told” and you feel
“what’s being told should’ve never been taught”, so what’s real?

To act without thought, then react when the consequences unfold
is insanity to me

We’re looking to the future to answer questions that have been
answered in the past…like, “What causes pollution?” Gas! and a
mask ain’t the solution.

Arguing over problems that were never meant to be solved…like,
the evolution of man, Damn, when will Truth just evolve.

To think rational is beautiful. War is complicated

Peace is simple. And simply put…The ones that know it
don’t control it but the ones in control, DO know. So now what?

If the beginning and the ending were already written then is their
room for shifting? Or are we just drifting?????

We have choices to make, voices to take back.
We’ve failed in fiction, but will prevail in facts.

God is Real, Religion is false. Lies are always easily found in
this life but the truth?…. So easily lost.

We’ve been on pause for too long. Push play or just stop re-
winding the song. Stop compromising with wrong when you knew right
all along.

It’s a classic case and such a drastic mistake to trade a coal mine
for plastic because it’s easier to lift and sift…WAIT!! I’ll
take the coal with the dirt, I’ll sift ‘til it hurts.

I’ll take that boulder, carry it through life on my shoulders if in the
end I deliver a diamond to the Giver of Life as my gift.. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or is it???

I see beauty in love, while others see beauty in hate. So the definition
of beauty is up for debate.

The smoke in your eyesight creates the illusion of grey. The world
is indeed black and white. My mind spins and truth wins but it’s
not in the fight.

The battles not really between wrong or right. It’s about how you
viewed things on the path you were on. It’s about YOU and what
you thought of it all, all along.

Trenton Doyle Hancock selected Dallas Cowboys Art Program artist for new Cowboys Stadium

I am so very proud to announce that my friend and classmate Trenton Doyle Hancock has bee selected to participate in the Dallas Cowboys Art Program.  He is one of 14 contemporary artists commissioned by the Cowboys to display their work at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Good Vegan Progression #2 by Trenton Doyle Hancock

Trenton was scheduled for an exhibition here in Dallas at the Dunn and Brown Contemporary this fall, which I was excited to cover.  But when I last asked him about it, he told me it was canceled because he had something in the works with the Cowboys.  When I saw the Dallas Morning News story about the modern art the Cowboys had decided on, I figured that this was the “something” he was talking about.

Here’s what the New York Times had to say about the project:

“This is a fabulous cutting-edge building, and we thought it needed art,” Ms. (Gene) Jones said. Although not a collector, she is an art lover who, along with her husband; their daughter, Charlotte Anderson; and a niece, Melissa Meeks, became involved in the project. But not being art professionals, they turned to a group of people who are.

The Times goes on to mention that the Jones’ consulted the curators of the Ft. Worth Modern, and DMA Contemporary collections among others.

So I would like to congratulate Trent on this wonderful accomplishment, and I look forward to seeing his work at Cowboys Stadium.  You can learn more about Trenton and his work by reading a 2007 interview that he did with Dallas South.

AUDIO:Caller in Henry Gates case never mentioned suspects were Black

I’ve been critical (privately) of the caller in the Henry Louis Gates case.  This was due to my assumption that the caller was someone who couldn’t believe that two black men would have a reason to enter a house in this neighborhood. The 911 tape of her phone call released today tells a different story.

Gates arrest 911 call –

“One looked kind of Hispanic but I’m not really sure, and the other one entered I didn’t see what he looked like at all,”  the caller tells the dispatcher on the line.  You can listen to a portion of the tape here but click the link withing the player to listen to the entire call which lasted nearly 3 minutes.

From the jump I believed that the phone call which was made was in order, and if she had indeed said that two black men entered the house, then that’s what she saw.  But in listening to the tape, this caller went out of her way to say that she didn’t know if there was a break-in happening, and never said that the subjects were black.

Racial profiling is real, but where is it in this case?

CNN looks for different angle in Black in America 2

One of the biggest complaints that I heard regarding last year’s groundbreaking spcecial Black in America on CNN, was that it painted the African-American community with a negative brush.

Struggling fathers and mothers, Black women who can’t find a man, people in prison, the argument was there for the making.  But it was also the place I remember hearing that White Americans with a felony have a better chance of getting a job than African-Americans without one.

This time, CNN is touting a solutions oriented approach with Black in America 2 that airs Wednesday night at 8 PM Central, and Thursday night at 7 PM.  Without directly responding to criticism of their generally well received first attempt, marketing for the program has promised something more.

Last night my family and I sat down to watch the 40 minute screener sent to us by CNN.  There were five impactful segments which were included:

  • The story of “Journey for Change,” a youth empowerment program founded by activist Malaak Compton-Rock
  • A segment on Black Marriages and one couple’s fight to stay together
  • A look at the Tyler Perry phenomenon and the success of his studio
  • Steve Perry and Capital Prep, a school he founded in Hartford, Conn.  Capital Prep has mostly African-American students in an urban setting and 100% of the students go on to attend a four year college upon graduation.
  • John Rice, brother of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and his program which grooms minority executives

I was captivated by the stories of Rice and Steve Perry.  These two young men identified a need and are working to meet that need.  It’s a route that more individuals are going to have to take if our communities are to succeed.

The same can be said for Tyler Perry.  For people like me familiar with Perry from his stage play days, there really wasn’t anything new here. But it was still good to see the model of a man not just  complaining about lack of African-Americans on T.V., but employing African-Americans on camera and behind the camera.

Rock’s program didn’t strike me the same way, but some of the kids highlighted in the piece did.  One young man (I think he was 15) was a tall and outstanding basketball player, yet when Rock interviewed him for the program he was barely audible.  He constantly looked down and mumbled as he spoke, a far cry from the confidence he displayed in clips shown of him on the basketball court.

Similarly I was impacted by a young lady from Capital Prep who said when she was 15 her only goal was to get her G.E.D. and move into an apartment.  How many African-American girls across the country have also set such a pitifully low bar for themselves?  She’s now on track to attend college due in large part to her time at Steve Perry’s Magnet School.

I applaud CNN and Soledad O’Brien, as I did last year, for attempting to highlight the unique challenges that face African-Americans.  I also welcome their decision to focus on solutions and highlighting those who are out busting down walls, myths and stereotypes.

It’s easy to forget that prior to 2007, a show like Black in America barely made it to the idea phase, less known onto the screen.  NBC Nightly News  kind of got it rolling in November ’07 before Black in American in ’08.  Now show’s like TV One’s Stand in 2009 don’t not seem like outliers anymore.  Now that we see a Black President on TV everyday, it’s easy to forget that just a couple of short years ago -before Jena 6- Black folks on television was a rarity.

I will be locked in tonight (after the President’s Press Conference) at 8 PM Central to support CNN’s Black in America.  I hope it will inspire people to do more than just keep score, but to also get in the game and work to make a difference.

Ford Exec Earl Lucas visiting Dallas with 2010 Ford Taurus: 5 Places he should go while in town

I’ve been asked to serve as an official host* for Ford Executive Earl Lucas, exterior design manager for the 2010 Ford Taurus, when he’s in Dallas this Thursday July 23.


Lucas grew up in Dallas, attending Booker T. Washington Arts Magnet High School that also launched recording artists Erykah Badu and Norah Jones.  This is part of an effort by Ford Executives to hit the road this summer to introduce people around the country to the new 2010 Taurus and its story.

While in town, Lucas will drive the Taurus to various locations around Dallas, some of which will be suggested by Dallas South and the Dallas South Family.  So here are a few places I think Mr. Lucas should visit while in town.  Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section.


There’s no doubt the Taurus should make it’s way to South Dallas, home of historic Fair Park.  The South Dallas Cultural Center is an Afro-centric venue that provides instruction and enrichment in the performing, literary, media, and visual arts.  Auto design has a component of visuals arts to it.

The center’s activities spotlight works that explore contemporary issues facing the African world community – especially those that strive to educate audiences about the interrelatedness of people of color.  Throughout the summer, the center has held classes in a number of areas -from literacy to dance- to benefit members of the South Dallas community.


There are a number of reasons to visit Southside on Lamar, but none more compelling than the story of Jan Gore.  Ms. Gore, owner and operator of Texas Caribbean Foods at Southside, has been driving a Ford Taurus for 16 years.  She currently drives a 2001 model and says she hopes that her next vehicle will be a Taurus as well.

At Southside Mr. Lucas could catch lunch at Texas Caribbean Foods, a cup of coffee next door at Opening Bell, and meet some of the interesting folks that live and work in the historic Sears Building.


The Bishop Arts District is home to over 50 local merchants, restaurants, boutiques, and services.  A visit to Bishop will allow Mr. Lucas to check out local artists in one of the area’s galleries, catch a snack a local eatery, or  pick up souvenirs for his trip home.


With all the hearings on Capitol Hill regarding the auto industry, it would be good if the folks at Representative Johnson’s office had a chance to see what the future has in store for American cars.

Congresswoman Johnson is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  The committee has jurisdiction over U.S. roads and the safety thereof.  A first hand look at one of the new vehicles using those roads sounds like a good thing.

University of North Texas at Dallas, 7300 Houston School Road, DALLAS

The University of North Texas Dallas Campus became a stand-alone institution this summer after Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill (SB) 629.  That means Dallas will no longer be the largest city in America without a public institution of higher learning.

Mr. Lucas should drive out to the campus for three reasons.  First, because of the young (and not so young) minds in the academic setting that could benefit from meeting a native Dallasite who has accomplished so much.  Secondly, it’s a beautiful part of Dallas with a great view of downtown.  And finally, after attaining their degrees, these students will be in the market for a new vehicle to drive back and forth to work.

So there are my thoughts.  What does the rest of the family think?

*Dallas South New Media has been retained to share information regarding the local social media scene for this event.


American’s Employees Build on Graves’ Legacy

Of Diversity and Inclusion as a Business Imperative

FORT WORTH, Texas – American Airlines employees Gary Kennedy, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, and Frank Stanton, Tower ManagerChicago, were awarded the first Earl G. Graves Award for Leadership to recognize their work in advancing diversity and inclusion within the company and in their communities in a ceremony Wednesday at American’s headquarters.

The award was established in honor of Earl G. Graves, Sr., founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, who influenced many of American’s diversity initiatives during his tenure on AMR’s Board of Directors. Graves helped American establish its practical, business-minded approach to diversity and worked to demonstrate that American’s diversity efforts are integral to its business goals. Graves served on AMR’s Board of Directors for many years and chaired the AMR Board Diversity Committee from 2002 until his retirement in 2008.

Graves attended the event and personally recognized the honorees along with American Airlines Chairman and CEO Gerard Arpey, Roger Staubach, Chairman AMR Board of Directors Diversity Committee, and a number of American Airlines and American Eagle employees.

“At American Airlines, we have always taken very seriously our responsibility to promote diversity and inclusion,” said Denise Lynn, Vice President-Diversity and Leadership Strategies. “We thank these deserving colleagues for their leadership. We know they have inspired others, not only through their passion and dedication over time, but through actions which have had a lasting, long-term positive impact on our company.

“We believe that our long-time commitment to diversity in the workplace, as a company and as individuals, has truly helped to move hearts and minds from a place of simply tolerating differences to one of active appreciation and inclusion.”

In addition to Kennedy and Stanton, La’Wonda Peoples, Manager-Workplace Giving and Volunteerism, and Sherri Macko, Manager-Supplier Diversity and Business Strategies, were recognized for their exceptional work for diversity and inclusion.

Award candidates were nominated by their fellow employees. Winners and honorees were then chosen by a selection committee made up of senior management and members of the company’s Diversity Advisory Council based upon three primary selection criteria:

  • Long-term commitment to leadership
  • Demonstrated passion and commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Legacy of leadership in diversity by having a lasting impact on the company

Kennedy and Stanton were nominated for their continuous commitment to the company’s diversity mission and for their ability to incorporate diversity into American’s daily operations.

Kennedy, a 25-year American Airlines employee has long been active in promoting diversity at American and within the legal profession more broadly, and has recently been recognized for his efforts with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2009 Employer of Choice Award and the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Bar Association’s 2009 Allies for Justice Award. In addition, Kennedy established American’s pro bono program in which participating attorneys provide legal services to indigent clients. Kennedy also helped establish a mentoring program for minority students at Texas Wesleyan law school.

Stanton, a 42-year American Airlines veteran, has been instrumental in the success of American’s Chicago O’Hare diversity and inclusion efforts. He helped establish the Chicago chapter of the African-American Employee Resource Group (AAERG), and was honored as AAERG member of the year in 2007.

He also served as a member of the local Diversity Action Council, where he first helped organize opportunities for exposure to areas of interest and developed on-the-job training in the 1970s to aid diverse employees’ advancement. Today, American’s Walk-A-Mile program continues to provide employees with the opportunity to shadow fellow employees in areas of interest.