New York Times Obituaries
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Ida B. Wells, Marsha P. Johnson & More Hidden Figures Receive Obituaries In 'Overlooked' Series

The New York Times looks to rewrite history in their touching "Overlooked" series. 

The New York Times is looking to rewrite history with their Overlooked series highlighting women like Ida B. Wells, Henrietta Lacks and Nella Larson, who's legacies were forgotten.

Dropping on International Women's Day (Mar. 8), the idea came to be by the Times' Obituary Editor Amisha Padnani and their first Gender Editor, Jessica Bennett. The first collection of women have had their legacies illuminated years after their passing in the form of documentariesfoundations and critically acclaimed films. But Padnami shares how at the moments of their passing, their names essentially went overlooked by legendary publication.

"It is difficult for me as a journalist to see important stories go untold. But perhaps more important, as a woman of color, I am pained when the powerful stories of incredible women and minorities are not brought to light," Padami said. The pieces don't follow the traditional layout of an obit, but they vary in voice and style since their written by writers and editors who've admired the women. The series also looks to highlight other people of color in the later weeks.

Here's a few snippets of the Overlooked series below:

Ida B. Wells

Legendary African-American journalist and early leader of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Wells is considered by historians to have been the most famous black woman in the United States during her lifetime, even as she was dogged by prejudice, a disease infecting Americans from coast to coast.

She pioneered reporting techniques that remain central tenets of modern journalism. And as a former slave who stood less than five feet tall, she took on structural racism more than half a century before her strategies were repurposed, often without crediting her, during the 1960s civil rights movement.

Marsha P. Johnson

Johnson was a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. 

Her goal, she declared in an interview for a 1972 book, was “to see gay people liberated and free and to have equal rights that other people have in America,” with her “gay brothers and sisters out of jail and on the streets again.” She added, in a reference to the radical politics of the time, “We believe in picking up the gun, starting a revolution if necessary.”

The 1970s were a time of greater visibility for Johnson. Tall and slender, she had a knack for commanding attention. Her outfits — red plastic high heels; slippers and stockings; shimmering robes and dresses; costume jewelry; bright wigs; plastic flowers and even artificial fruit in her hair — were often assembled from scavenged or discarded materials.“I was no one, nobody, from Nowheresville, until I became a drag queen,” she said in a 1992 interview.

Henrietta Lacks

Lacks’ immortal cells are considered to be the biggest medical miracle of the last century.

Though she was forgotten at the time, part of her remained alive, at the forefront of science. While a cure for cancer remains elusive, the cell line named for her, HeLa (pronounced hee-lah), has been at the core of treatments for hemophilia, herpes, influenza, leukemia, and Parkinson’s disease as well as the polio vaccine, the cancer drug tamoxifen, chemotherapy, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization.

In 2001, 50 years after Lacks died, her daughter Deborah visited Johns Hopkins Hospital and closed her eyes as a cancer researcher opened the door of his floor-to-ceiling freezer. Deborah then opened her eyes slowly, and stared at vials of red liquid. “Oh, God,” she gasped, “I can’t believe all this is my mother.” When he handed her one, she said, “She’s cold,” and blew on the tube to warm it. “You’re famous,” she whispered to the cells.

Nella Larsen

First African-American woman to be admitted to the library school of the New York Public Library.

By all appearances, the family was white. But Nella Larsen was different, something that would come to inspire her fiction — celebrated during the Harlem Renaissance, forgotten by midcentury and rediscovered to be read today in American literature and black studies courses.

Larsen first expressed a professional interest in literature and art as a volunteer helping to prepare the New York Public Library’s first exhibition of African-American artists. She later enrolled in the library’s teaching program, eventually becoming its first black female graduate.

READ: Exalting Blackness Amid White Noise: Afro-Latino Artists Speak on Navigating the World & Music Industry

 

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Tory Lanez Sued For Alleged Attack In Miami Nightclub

Tory Lanez is facing legal trouble over an alleged altercation that went down inside Miami’s LIV nightclub last year. Christopher “Prince” Harty, an up-and-coming artist and Miami promoter who appeared on Love & Hip-Hop: Miami claims that Lanez attacked him last November.

The onetime reality star alleges that Lanez, along with his entourage and security team, punched and attacked him in the nightclub. According to reports, Prince claims to have suffered blunt force trauma to his head, neck, and chest, in addition to contusions, bruises and anxiety, as a result of the incident. He is suing for unspecified damages.

“They backed me into a corner, and once I was there, they started stomping on me, jumping me,” he recalled to NBC Miami.

He believes that the friction stemmed from an Instagram post about music. “They felt that I was insinuating that they stole the record from me, and I was just like, no, I would never do that, that was never my intention. I had no issue with him at all.”

A portion of the incident was captured on cellphone video. Prince stated that he knew Lanez prior to the run-in, and helped get him into clubs before.

His attorney, Marwan Porter of Porter Law Firm, called the violent incident “a chronic problem” with Lanez who is accused of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in July. The 28-year-old recording artist has yet to publicly address either incident.

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Cardi B Opens Up About Filing For Divorce From Offset

Cardi B took to Instagram Live on Friday (Sept. 18) to air out a few things about filing for divorce from Offset.

The Bronx rapper made it clear that she didn’t file for divorce as a publicity stunt to promote her upcoming album. “I’m not doing it for clout and on top of that I don’t need stunts to sell music,” she said. “I’m not [trying to] brag but don’t ever say I’m doing anything for clout. My first album is three-times platinum and I didn’t need no stunts to do that. My [“Wap”] single is no. 1 worldwide why would I need stunts to sell music? I don’t need stunts — [especially] when it comes to family — to sell anything, so don’t play yourself.”

As for the reason for the divorce filing, the estranged couple simply grew apart. “Nothing crazy out of this world happened, sometimes people really do grow apart. I been with this man for four years. I have a kid with this man, I have a household with this man…sometimes you’re just tired of the arguments and the build up. You get tired sometimes and before something happens, you leave.”

“I just wanna' be a free bird,” Cardi said after questioning whether people secretly want infidelity to be the reason for the split.

“I am the f**king clout,” she added. “I never needed anything. I never needed no stunts to sell sh*t.Why would I need anything to sell my next album?”

Speaking of the new album, Cardi has been indecisive about choosing her next single because “WAP” did so well. “That means that my second single has to be even better.”

Towards the end of her venting session, Cardi reiterated that she’s focusing on her work, and revealed that she's starting new business for her daughter Kulture.

 

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Barack Obama Announces Release Date For ‘A Promised Land’ Memoir

Following the mega-success of his wife’s Becoming release, Barack Obama is poised to debut his own memoir, A Promised Land, this fall. The former president made the literary announcement on Twitter on Thursday (Sept. 17).

“There’s no feeling like finishing a book and I’m proud of this one,” Obama tweeted while explaining that he tries to give an “honest account” of his presidency in the book. The release will also touch on “the forces we grapple with as a nation, and how we can heal our division and make democracy work for everybody.”

There’s no feeling like finishing a book, and I’m proud of this one. In 'A Promised Land,' I try to provide an honest accounting of my presidency, the forces we grapple with as a nation, and how we can heal our divisions and make democracy work for everybody. pic.twitter.com/T1QSZVDvOm

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 17, 2020

The highly anticipated and introspective release takes readers on a “compelling journey” and details Obama’s “improbable odyssey from a young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world.” Included in the memoir are striking personal details about his political education, as well as landmark moments from his first term presidency.

The Obamas secured the reported $60 million book deals around a year after ending their tenure in the White House. Michelle Obama’s book became the best-selling memoir in history.

A Promised Land is currently available for pre-order at Obamabook.com. The memoir will be released on Nov. 17.

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