Fantasia, Babyface, Rickey Smiley and more to Headline the Inaugural Music Fest Orlando

Main Flyer
Celebrate Music & Culture at Music Fest Orlando on March 25, 2023, at the Central Florida Fairgrounds


Orlando, FL  – Music Fest Orlando is the ultimate music and cultural experience in the heart of Orlando. This premier music festival is bringing together some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry with an eclectic artist lineup of national and award-winning R&B, hip-hop, neo-soul, and afrobeat artists, including Fantasia, Babyface, Goodie Mob, Plies, Lyfe Jennings, the 69 Boyz, JT Money, Levelle, KowKow, and Pretti Emage.  Also, the special local artist segment features performances by Arkeshia, Ashley Peck, Lolita, and The Don D'rel.  The one-day outdoor live music festival will be hosted by acclaimed comedian, actor, and national radio personality, Rickey Smiley on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.

"Music Fest Orlando's focus is building the ultimate festival experience, bringing together family, friends, and music lovers of all genres while creating an economic impact on our community through scholarship opportunities and internships. Also, the festival will allow up-and-coming local artists to showcase their talents on a big stage, positioning them on a platform that will assist them in elevating their careers to the next level.," said Music Fest Orlando Founder Ernest Wilson.

Music Fest Orlando is a celebration of Black music and culture and a party with a purpose. A portion of the ticket proceeds will benefit students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities through the HBCU Initiative. This initiative seeks to provide students in the Central Florida area with financial assistance to further their post-high school education.

In addition to the live performances, the 2023 Music Fest Orlando will feature delectable bites and a myriad of retail buys from the Merchandise Village. Also, during the weekend, attendees can enjoy a pre-social party hosted by artist CeeLo Green, the night before the festival, March 24, 2023, at Dove Cote in the heart of downtown Orlando.  For tickets and more information, visit



Black History 2023: Black Resistance Needed Now More than Ever


Depop Profile Picture
Va-Va Byers

It’s hard to believe that the first month of 2023 has transpired and we are already well into February but here we are. Well, you know, if it’s February, it must be Black History Month. That’s cool for most people but for us, in February, we are unapologetically EXTRA Blackitty Black because we celebrate and honor our Blackness all year. The 2023 Black History theme is Black Resistance. That is needed in Miami and throughout Florida, because the level of disrespect and anti-Blackness is unreal. No one is going to save us but us. So let's STAY WOKE!

We find ourselves dealing with the trauma of the lynching of Tyre Nichols by five black cops in Memphis; continuing anti-Blackness culture wars from Republican leaders in Tallahassee; the takeover of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust Board by Miami commissioners; the politicization of the Miami-Dade County School Board and disrespect of Black, seasoned board members (No, two Black Teachers of the Year won’t compensate for that. We celebrate them, though.); the reneging of funds promised to the Circle of Brotherhood and public grilling by Miami commissioners; and a symbolic attempt at we don’t know what by Miami Police with a Black History Month themed police cruiser. We still haven’t forgotten about the execution-style shooting of Antwon Cooper by a Miami cop during a routine traffic stop in Liberty City in March 2022. So, miss us with that, please.

Please get out and vote in the City of Miami District 2 race on February 27. Confirm your voting status now.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

Congressional Gold Medal to be Presented to Trailblazing Marine Corps Heroes at Noon on Monday, February 6

Congressional Gold Medal to be Presented to Trailblazing Marine Corps Heroes at Noon on Monday  February 6
At noon, on Monday, February 6th, Corporal George J. Johnson, one of the few living Montford Point Marines and the family of the late Corporal Moses Williams will receive their replica Congressional Gold Medal at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale.


“If it were a question of having a Marine Corps of 5,000 whites or 250,000 Negroes, I would prefer the whites. …They are trying to break into a club that does not want them.”

General Thomas Holcomb
United States Marine Corps
17th Commandant (1936-1943)


Such was the position of the leadership of the United States Marine Corps regarding the African American men who integrated the Corps on August 26, 1942. To stave off a threatened March-on-Washington led by labor union and civil rights leader, A. Philip Randolph, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, amid a re-election campaign, reluctantly agreed to integrate the Marine Corps. Thus, the Montford Point Marines were born. They were a social experiment. The men were allowed in the Marine Corps to prove that Blacks could not be Marines.

However, between 1942-1949, some 20,000 African American men would become Montford Point Marines. The men were subjected to inhumane living conditions, racial taunting, and physical abuse. The initial recruits had to build their segregated training camp, Montford Point Camp — by hand. Despite those obstacles, the Montford Point Marines proved their doubters wrong.

At noon, on Monday, February 6th, Corporal George J. Johnson, one of the few living Montford Point Marines and the family of the late Corporal Moses Williams will receive their replica Congressional Gold Medal. On November 23, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines. This award recognizes the contributions of the Montford Point Marines to the Marine Corps and the United States of America during a time of tremendous hardship and segregation. The original medal was collectively presented to the Montford Point Marines at a U.S. Capitol ceremony on June 27, 2012.

Local hero, Corporal George J. Johnson is 101-years-young. After graduating from Dillard High School in 1942, Johnson registered for the Selective Service. He became a Montford Point Marine shortly after his 22nd birthday in 1943.

While at Montford Point Camp, Johnson was trained as a military police officer. He also served in the Asiatic Pacific Theater from 1945 to 1946. Johnson briefly enrolled in Florida A&M College, now Florida A&M University, in Tallahassee. He met Hannah Marie Gaines there, whom he would later marry. They lived in New York until Johnson retired from a career in law enforcement. Mrs. Johnson passed away in 2013.

Inarguably, Corporal Johnson is living American history. He, Corporal Williams, and their fellow Montford Pointers are the standard of patriotism and perseverance. They are due the respect and reverence they have earned. So they can be properly documented in the register of the Montford Point Marines and their Congressional Gold Medal awarded, if you know a living or deceased Montford Point Marine, contact the National Montford Point Marine Association at

To attend the local Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony:

In the Company of Greatness: Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony
   for Montford Point Marines – Corporal George J. Johnson and Corporal Moses Williams
Noon, Monday, February 6, 2023
African American Research Library and Cultural Center
2650 Sistrunk Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL  33311

The ceremony is free and open to the public.


Please visit these related links for important historical information on the Montford Point Marines:

Our America: Mission Montford Point [VIDEO]

The Mission to Find Montford Point Marines [VIDEO]

The Marines of Montford Point: Fighting for Freedom [VIDEO]

Montford Point Marines Congressional Gold Medal Parade, June 28, 2012 [VIDEO]

Image 2



Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' Proposals On Higher Education Pose a Grave Threat to Academic Freedom and Free Speech at Public Colleges and Universities

DeSantis Higher Ed Proposals

NEW YORK -- PEN America called Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s announcement of a broad outline of legislation to restrict the historic autonomy of higher education “a grave threat to free speech and academic freedom” at Florida’s public colleges and universities.

Among other changes, the governor’s proposals announced Tuesday would ban critical race theory (CRT) and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI) at universities; effectively end tenure protections by giving boards of trustees hiring and firing power over faculty; rewrite university mission statements; compel colleges and universities to deprioritize certain fields that are deemed to further a “political agenda”; and “overhaul and restructure” New College of Florida, whose new board of trustees, made up largely of conservative pundits, on Tuesday fired the college president and replaced her with a political ally of the governor.

In response to the proposals, Jeremy C. Young, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America, released the following statement:

“These proposals represent nothing less than an effort to substitute the dictates of elected officials for the historic autonomy of higher education institutions. If enacted, they would unquestionably pose a grave threat to free speech on Florida campuses. The core freedom that is a vital prerequisite of academic research and teaching is the ability of scholars and students to pursue lines of inquiry, and this in turn depends on a university remaining free from political interference.

“Further,” Young continued, “the recent actions at New College -- where a board selected to further an ideological agenda fired the president at its first meeting -- reflects the inclinations of a government that wants to exert greater and narrower ideological control over higher education; not one that respects open inquiry or academic freedom. This proposal and these actions deserve vehement and vigorous opposition from all who hold free speech on campus dear.”

Remembering: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks mugshot
Rosa Parks mugshot, Montgomery, AL, 12/01/1955

On a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on this date, in 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks had enough. On this date Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. She was already seated in the “colored” section of the bus, but the “whites” section was full. It was customary for Blacks to give up their seat for whites, but Mrs. Parks was not feeling compliant that day. She was not tired as she is frequently depicted in historical recounting of the incident, at least not physically. She was tired of the denigrating treatment of Black customers who used the public transportation system in Montgomery Alabama. She had enough.

Unbeknownst to many today, prior to Mrs. Parks’ arrest, Black women had already started organizing a protest through a group called the Women's Political Council or WPC. They started a couple of years earlier in 1953. In March 1955, a few months prior to the arrest of Rosa Parks, a teenager by the name of Claudette Colvin refuse to give up her seat. The people had enough.

The Montgomery bus boycott would last 381 days from December 5, 1955, through December 20, 1956. Two years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott began, Mrs. Parks and her husband, Raymond, lost their job jobs and received numerous death threats after her arrest. They later moved to Detroit, Michigan where he passed away in 1977 and she in 2005.

So, as you take a seat on a bus or an airplane, or even in a movie theater or restaurant, be mindful of the people who paved the way for you to casually move about in America. Also be sure to tell and retell American history.




Ten New Trustees Join Miami-Dade County’s Black Economic Development Agency

Ten new trustees join MDEAT board
New members of MDEAT Board of Trustees with Vice Chair. From left, Kametra Driver; Danny Felton, Sr.; Raymond Fundora; Steven Henriquez; X, Vice Chair Hannibal Burton; Kimberly T. Henderson; Andrea Forde; Patricia Jennings Braynon; and Rashad Thomas. Not Pictured: Basil A. Binns II and Christopher Norwood.

Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT), a county agency charged with ensuring that Black residents participate in Miami-Dade County's economic growth, recently welcomed ten new trustees to its Board. An agency of Miami-Dade County government, MDEAT is governed by a board of trustees appointed by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners.

"I am feeling very positive about the future of the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust. We have gained tremendous momentum over that past year," said Hannibal Burton, vice chair of the MDEAT Board of Trustees. "I am extremely excited to accelerate that momentum and dig into areas we have only been able to talk about at this point. We are expanding the agency and transmitting a higher quality of service for our community."

"Since assuming the position as executive director, I've been committed to finding the best talent and resources to help stimulate the economic revitalization our community deserves," said MDEAT Executive Director William "Bill" Diggs. "I look forward to working with our new trustees and leveraging their resources and expertise to elevate Black participation in Miami-Dade County's economic growth."

Board membership is based on the availability of positions and expertise in one of the agency's core service areas of economic development; housing advocacy; youth services; and research and policy. Ten candidates rose to the top of the field. Each appointment is for a three-year term.

The Board welcomes Basil A. Binns II, Patricia Jennings Braynon, Kametra Driver, Danny Felton, Sr., Andrea Forde, Raymond Fundora, Kimberly T. Henderson, Steven Henriquez, Christopher Norwood, and Rashad D. Thomas. They join current trustees Erbi Blanco-True, Hannibal Burton, and Julio Piti.

"As a Miami native, I am excited about the opportunity to serve and impact Miami-Dade County. I appreciate the great work MDEAT is doing to create more Black homeowners and entrepreneurs," Rashad D. Thomas, MDEAT Board Member and Regional Director, AT&T.

The MDEAT Board meets monthly and leverages three action committees: Economic Development Action Committee, Housing Advocacy Committee, and Youth Action Committee. Meetings are open to the public and posted online.

“We have similar goals around expanding equity of outcome around Black homeownership and business ownership," Kimberly T. Henderson, president and CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida. "Those things are key to transforming our community and reducing the wealth divide between Blacks and other groups."

Amid the region's housing affordability crisis, several of MDEAT's board members are positioned to give the agency a competitive advantage to create effective advocacy and solutions for Miami-Dade County's most vulnerable residents.

"I am happy to serve and help our community receive its fair share of affordable housing opportunities," said Patricia Braynon, MDEAT trustee and retired director of the Housing Finance Authority of Miami-Dade County.

Following the riots that erupted in 1980 after white officers were acquitted for the death of Black businessman and former Marine Arthur McDuffie, the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County collaborated to create Metro-Miami Action Plan (MMAP) in 1983 as a solution to socioeconomic disparities in employment, economic development, education, housing, health and human services and criminal justice. In 1992, MMAP was further empowered by becoming a trust, and in September 2009 it was reorganized into MDEAT by ordinance 09-70.

Since its inception, MDEAT’s focus has been on addressing socioeconomic disparities within the Black community. MDEAT does so by focusing on the individual (i.e., youth and individual family member support), building neighborhoods through the expansion of homeownership, and supporting the foundation of strong Black businesses and economic development via job creation, entrepreneurship, business retention, and expansion. These three gears - family, neighborhood, and business - work together to connect the Black community to resources, funding, and programming that together create whole communities.

Log on to, re for more information on MDEAT and critical community statistics and data.


Related Links:

Murdered: Arthur McDuffie and the 1980 Miami Riots
A Few Bad Apples

McDuffie: The Case Behind Miami’s Riots

Thirty-Year Retrospective: The Status of the Black Community in Miami-Dade County 

2013 Karen Moore Islands of Poverty in a Sea of Wealth


Kyra Harris Bolden First Black Woman Appointed to Michigan Supreme Court

Kyra Harris Bolden will make history as the first Black woman to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court.

Michigan State Representative Kyra Harris Bolden will be appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court in January 2023 by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, making history as the first Black woman to serve on the high court. Bolden, an experienced attorney, and bipartisan lawmaker, connected with constituents across the state during her campaign for Michigan Supreme Court earlier this year.

"I am honored to have been selected by Governor Whitmer to serve the wonderful state of Michigan and ensure greater trust and justice for generations,” said Bolden. “This is an important time for Michiganders, and I am grateful for the continued support to bring a fresh perspective to our highest court. This is a court that will ultimately have the final word on many items that will affect not only our lives, but our children’s, and their children’s lives for generations to come. I’m excited and ready to get to work!”

Bolden received her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University and went on to attend the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. After receiving her Juris Doctorate, Rep. Bolden became a civil litigation attorney. She is an active member of her community, serving as a member of the National Congress of Black Women-Oakland County, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and as a commissioner of the Total Living Commission for the city of Southfield.

Rep. Bolden will replace Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, who announced her departure from the court in September.



MUSE Modern & Contemporary Art Fair Features More Than 20 Artists of Color and Women Artists During Miami Art Week

Four Boys by Artist Joseph C. Grant
More than 20 Artists, including Women and Artists of Color, from the United States and abroad will be featured at the 4th edition of MUSE located in Miami Beach November 30 through December 4, 2022, during Miami Art Week and Art Basel weekend at Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach.
“Our selection of global artists is spectacular.  They span from Miami to as far away Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, Medellin, Colombia in South America, South Korea in Asia, and both Liberia and Nigeria, West Africa.  We’re delighted and honored to be working with and featuring such a talented group of artists eager to participate in Miami Art Week,” said MUSE Creator Que Simmons.
“Art Unrestricted,” the fourth edition of MUSE, reflects the diversity and outstanding talent of the local and global art community.  With the absence of geographical boundaries, the goal of Art Unrestricted is to cultivate conversation, connection, and a feeling of a community within the global art world.  
“We believe we’ve met that goal with our eclectic mix of paintings, ceramics, and photographs.  The fair will take place at Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach, 660 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL. 33139. The fair will be open to the public daily 11-am to 8pm with live art taking place during Kimpton Angler’s Wine Hour.  On Sunday December 4, MUSE  will close at 5pm. 
MUSE is partnered with the Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Art of Black Miami Initiative. 
The following is a list of artists that will be appearing at the fair. 
Alicia Vandoren, New Orleans, LA
Anthony Burks, West Palm Beach, FL
Christopher Washington, Alabama
Colette Burmester, Maine
Doba Afolabi, Nigeria, Africa
Hyosun An, South Korea
Ian Thuiller, Quebec, Canada
Joel Macineiras, Florida
Johnny Cortes, Cuban American
James Kilpatrick, Miami Gardens
June Richards, Liberia, Africa
Luis Mariano Arrieche, Venezuela
M.O.A.L., Jamaica
Michelle Drummond, Jamaica
Perla Sophia Gonzalez, Cuban American
Peter Sheppard, Trinidad & Tobago
Yovani Bauta, Cuba

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Announces New Partnership with Black Tech-Based Cancer Charity, Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation



Collaboration Hopes to Raise Awareness and Critical Funds to Eradicate Cancer


BALTIMORE, MD – The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation have partnered to raise awareness and critical funds for human trials for a new treatment to eradicate cancer for the 9 million people who die each year.

During Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s 95th General Convention in 2019, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to partner with the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Foundation, a Black tech-based cancer charity. Recently, Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III, General President, executed and signed an MOU solidifying the new partnership.

“Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is committed to supporting the efforts of the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation,” said General President Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III. “Everyone has a loved one, or knows someone, fighting this disease. We strongly believe that the Foundation’s research offers a promising opportunity to revolutionize the way cancer is treated, save lives, and improve the health outcomes for millions of cancer patients worldwide.”

Ora Lee Smith Founder, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, an internationally-recognized cancer researcher and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., has developed a new, revolutionary treatment using Laser-Activated Nano-Therapy (LANT) technology – specifically designed to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact.

“I thank the General President, the Board of Directors, and the members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., for joining our efforts,” said Dr. Green, who established the foundation to ensure her treatment is accessible and affordable “It takes a lot of courage to be the first and take action on a vision to go beyond hope. This is a testament to their leadership and commitment to our families, our community, and our future.”

To date, Dr. Green’s research with LANT technology has been proven to eliminate tumors in mice in just 15 days after one 10-minute treatment without any observable side effects and maintains the patient’s dignity. LANT, which is also a multi-cancer platform therapy, has implications for a variety of solid tumor types, including breast, colorectal, ovarian, skin, brain, anal, and prostate cancers.

Within the African American community, an estimated 224,080 new cancer cases and 73,680 cancer deaths were expected to occur in 2022.

Under the partnership, the Fraternity is planning a variety of activities to support the foundation, including:

  • November 28, 2022 - Partnership Launch Webinar at 7 PM EST - Streamed live on FB, YouTube, and Brotherhood Portal
  • November 29, 2022 - Giving Tuesday through December 6, 2022,
  • December - End of Year Appeal to the Brotherhood and their friends and family

To learn more and donate, visit:


Beyoncé Wins Big Morris Day & The Time Recognized at Soul Train Awards 2022 Presented by BET

Morris Day and Jerome Benton of Morris Day and The Time perform onstage during the 2022 Soul Train Awards presented by BET at the Orleans Arena on November 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

The Soul Train Awards 2022 presented by BET and hosted by award-winning comedian and actor Deon Cole, featured a lineup of unforgettable performances including special moments and appearances by some of the brightest stars in Black culture and entertainment. 

The event kicked off with the “Soul Train Awards Red Carpet Special,” with hosts Tank covering the Main Stage, Letoya Luckett on the Correspondent Stage, and Novi Brown (“Tyler Perry’s Sistas”) in the Walmart Lounge. Beyoncé led the night with three wins for Album of The Year, Song of the Year and Best Collaboration with Ronald Isley & The Isley Brothers. 

Trailblazing 90’s R&B supergroup Xscape was crowned Lady of Soul at this year’s Awards. The award was presented to them by their legendary producer and So So Def Recordings founder Jermaine Dupri, who spoke fondly about knowing the group was destined for stardom when he met them. 

Xscape embodied elegance as they graced the stage and  accepted the award. The group  performed some of their biggest hits, including “My Little Secret,” “Who Can I Run To?,” ''Tonight,” and fan-favorite “Just Kickin It” with surprise guest Jermaine Dupri, to which the audience bumped, grooved, and sang along word for word. Xscape ended their performance with their powerful ballad, “Understanding.”

Iconic funk brand Morris Day & The Time closed out the night with the Legend Award, presented to them by JB Smoove. After reflecting on the group’s success, and their days collaborating with PrinceMorris Day & The Time accepted the award and expressed profound gratitude. The group then brought their blend of funk and soul to the stage, performing a medley of their classic hits including “Cool,” “777,” “Jungle Love,” and closing out with crowd favorite “Bird,” keeping the audience on their feet dancing until the last note.

Here is the complete list of Soul Train Awards 2022 winners:
Best New Artist
Certified Soul Award
Mary J. Blige          
Best R&B/Soul Female Artist
Jazmine Sullivan  
Best R&B/Soul Male Artist
Chris Brown         
Best Gospel/Inspirational Award
Maverick City Music X Kirk Franklin          
Song of the Year
Break My Soul  -    Beyoncé
Album of the Year
Renaissance     -     Beyoncé
The Ashford and Simpson Songwriter’s Award
Hrs & Hrs  -  Muni Long
Best Dance Performance
About Damn Time  Lizzo

Best Collaboration
Make Me Say It Again, Girl     -    Ronald Isley & The Isley Brothers Feat. Beyoncé
Video of the Year
Smokin Out The Window  -   Bruno Mars, Anderson Paak, Silk Sonic

Watch an encore airing of Soul Train Awards 2022, Sunday, November 27 at 8 PM ET/PT and Thursday, December 1 at 9 PM ET/PT on BET. The Soul Train Awards 2022 will air internationally on BET Africa on Sunday, November 27 at 3:00 CAT, BET France on Thursday, December 1 at 20:45 PM CET. The show will also be available to watch on My5 and Sky On-Demand in the UK beginning Thursday, December 1.