May 17, 2018 

By Freddie Allen 

NNPA Newswire 


Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), co-hosted an event celebrating international filmmakers and the European premiere of a documentary about the life and legacy of Reginald F. Lewis, America’s first Black billionaire, during the Cannes Film Festival in France.


Dr. Chavis joined Loida Nicolas-Lewis, the widow of Reginald F. Lewis, and Ken Naz of MariKen Productions in hosting the affair at the Le Majestic Beach on Wednesday, May 16. The Honorable David Lisnard, the mayor of Cannes also attended the star-studded event.


“On behalf of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, we are very pleased to co-host, along with the Lewis family, the European premier of the documentary,” said Dr. Chavis.


The documentary titled, “PIONEERS: Reginald F. Lewis and the Making of a Billion Dollar Empire,” chronicles the rise of one of Wall Street’s greatest entrepreneurs.


As a young man growing up in Baltimore, Lewis began his record-breaking, entrepreneurial journey with the Black Press, Dr. Chavis said, distributing newspapers like the Baltimore AFRO.


According to a 1988 New York Times article, when Lewis was 9 years-old, he acquired a paper route that ''ultimately became a $15 to $20-a-week business—a lot of money in those days,” he said.


Lewis attended Virginia State University then Harvard Law School and worked in corporate law after he graduated. He helped to establish the first African American law firm on Wall Street. In 1983, he launched TLC Group, L.P. and organized the $22.5 million leveraged buyout of McCall Pattern Company, according to his official biography.


“Lewis streamlined operations, increased marketing, and led the company to two of the most profitable years in McCall’s 113-year history,” Lewis’s biography said. “In the summer of 1987, he sold the company for $65 million, making a 90-to-1 return on his investment.”


According to his biography, Lewis then outmaneuvered Citicorp to acquire Beatrice Foods, which included 64 companies in 31 countries; the deal was worth $985 million, the largest leveraged buyout of overseas assets by an American company at that time.


“As Chairman and CEO of the new TLC Beatrice International, [Lewis] moved quickly to reposition the company, pay down the debt, and vastly increase its worth,” his biography said. “By 1992, the company had sales of over $1.8 billion annually, making it the first Black-owned business to generate a billion dollars in annual sales.”


In the documentary, Ken Chenault, the former CEO of American Express, said that Lewis’s success helped to pave the way for many African American businessmen and women on Wall Street.


“I think that really is the test in demonstration of real leadership,” Chenault said.


Lewis was not only an incredibly successful businessman, he gave back to the Black community in extraordinary ways.


Lewis represented The Wilmington Ten, a group of political prisoners, who were wrongfully convicted in 1971 of firebombing a White-owned grocery store in Wilmington, N.C. Dr. Chavis, who was a 24 year-old civil rights leader with the New York-based Commission for Racial Justice, at the time, was one of the Wilmington Ten, and credited Lewis with helping to get their convictions overturned by the federal appeals court in 1980 and ultimately championing the eventual exonerations of the group.


“He offered the rope of hope. He offered what was possible. He never stopped giving [to] the Civil Rights Movement, to political leadership, to universities,” Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. said in the documentary. “He never stopped giving…selfless giving.”


Dr. Chavis said that he has personal and professional interests in the promotion of the documentary.


“It’s in the best interest of the NNPA, as a national trade group that represents Black-owned newspapers, to be supportive of other Black-owned entities…in the film industry, in the entertainment industry and the media industry,” Dr. Chavis said. “All of that comes together at the Cannes Film Festival.”


Dr. Chavis said that it was important for the NNPA to not only co-host the European premiere of the documentary on Reginald Lewis, but to also support the Lewis family in screening “PIONEERS” in major U.S. markets and at other international film festivals and venues. The NNPA announced plans to screen the Reginald Lewis documentary at their annual conference in Norfolk, Va., in June.


Dr. Chavis said that the Reginald Lewis documentary sends a powerful message to young people of color to never settle for the realities of poverty and injustice that exist today.


“Young people of color must summon all of their God-given talents to respond to those circumstances by focusing on economic development, economic empowerment and improving the quality of life in the communities where they live,” Dr. Chavis said. “The Reginald Lewis story is a transcendent story for those young people today who are contemplating becoming entrepreneurs on Wall Street.”


Dr. Chavis continued: “Reginald Lewis proved that you can transcend racial barriers, that you can transcend the ideology of White supremacy and not only overcome those obstacles, but also excel in U.S. and around the world.”

Category: Arts & Culture

May 17, 2018 


MAR 21 - APR 19 

If you're completely single, then you're probably only interested in keeping it casual when it comes to matters of the heart. Your ruling planet, Mars, will enter Aquarius -- one of the most non-committal signs of the zodiac. You might have multiple offers for sex and feel that it's time to have fun, experiment and just do you. On the other hand, it's also possible that this attitude of yours is more of a defense mechanism than anything else. Are you running away from your true feelings for someone? Hmmm... If you're in a relationship, then after Saturday you and your love might want to spend more time nesting together at home. If you're newly dating someone, it'll be a great time to introduce your new sweetie to your family. They'll think you're adorbs together!



APR 20 - MAY 20 

Everything changes this week for you Taurus. EVERYTHING! On Tuesday, Uranus, the planet of awakenings will move into your sign for the first time in 84 years. This is truly remarkable energy that will have you buzzing for years to come. A New Moon will also fall in your sign on the very same day. You might feel a surge of restless energy that demands expression. You may also know that when it comes to your love life, it's time for a major change. Major. Are you moving in an entirely new direction? Definitely. Which direction that is, however, remains to be seen. One thing is certain: whatever you think it will be, it won't. Uranus loves to mess around that way



MAY 21 - JUN 20 

Unusual experiences and new adventures are calling out to your heart in a way that you can no longer deny. As a result, you might need to adjust your expectations in matters of the heart -- especially if there's someone in your life who just can't match up to where it is you want to go next. Still, while it's true that you can't always be on the same page with your lover, if you're on two entirely different planets then you might need to re-evaluate whether or not this relationship is still workable. You simply must go after the desire to expand your horizons now, Gemini ... with or without your mate.



JUN 21 - JUL 22 

If you're single and ready to mingle, this week you're sizzling hot! After Tuesday you'll feel like your social life is buzzing with invitations, possibilities, and complete excitement. You'll have amazing opportunities to meet new and fascinating people, at least one who you'll feel an intense electric pull toward. The company you keep overall is likely to be filled with people who are more eccentric or visionary. In fact, the weirder they are, the more attracted you'll be. In a relationship? Although your partner will feel more attracted to you, you might have some financial obstacles to get through together. Don't worry; you will.



JUL 23 - AUG 22 

You'll feel a surge of motivation to work on your relationship this week, Leo. It's all thanks to Mars, the planet of action and drive, moving into your partnership sector on Wednesday. With this fiery planet here, you can look forward to a couple of scenarios. For starters, you will find yourself more interested in passionately connecting with your mate. Although it is possible that you'll want to stir up trouble and initiate arguments, if this happens it's only because you're truly motivated to push past whatever problems you might have and get right to what matters: the make-up sex.




AUG 23 - SEP 22 

If you're single, this week might turn into a game-changer. On Saturday Venus, the planet of love and harmony, will move into the most social area of your chart -- the 11th house. Venus remains here through June 13, and during this stretch of time you might actually find success when it comes to the endlessly frustrating world of internet dating. You're tired of not making any kind of emotional connection on all of those first dates that go nowhere. The good news is that now you can rest easy knowing that this will change. Take a leap of faith and meet someone new -- you won't regret it.



SEP 23 - OCT 22 

Your love life might turn into something that resembles a steamy romance novel! On Wednesday Mars will move into your 5th House of Romance, Pleasure and Passion, making certain that now, your top priority is making the most of a sexy opportunity with someone you can't get enough of. If you're completely single, you may suddenly find yourself being pursued by someone who makes it clear they think you're totally hot. If you're in a relationship, then the sex between you and your lover is about to hit a level that will make you tremble. In a good way, of course!



OCT 23 - NOV 21 

Oh boy Scorpio ... are you ready for your love life to be dramatically changed? Well, ready or not, here it comes! On Tuesday Uranus, the planet of instability and chaos but also revolution, will move into your partnership sector for the first time in 84 years. Yes, this will be a life-altering time in your life where anything and everything between you and your love will change. You might start to feel an itch that simply must be scratched. A desire for something -- or someone -- different. If you're completely single, you might suddenly meet someone who turns your world upside down. Wow!



NOV 22 - DEC 21 

Your mouth might get you into trouble. On Wednesday Mars, the natural ruler of your romance sector, will move into your communication sector and will stay here for an extended period of time. As Mars settles into this part of your chart it's possible that you'll say something to your lover without fully thinking it through. You might be excited about conveying your thoughts to your lover, and that's great. If, however, you have a problem to work through, then you might not come across in expressing yourself with much tact or consideration for your partner's feelings. Single? You'll have no problem approaching someone who catches your eye and initiating a conversation. Good for you!



DEC 22 - JAN 19 

Boom chicka boom! Oh boy Capricorn, get ready for everything -- and I do mean everything -- to change when it comes to matters of the heart. If you are single and the type of person who is convinced that you don't need or want love, guess what? The universe is literally about to hit you over the head with someone who will drastically shift your perspective. Without having any control over it, you might suddenly find your heart opening up. Is that really so bad? Come on Cappy ... the universe wants you to know that sometimes it's OK to throw caution to the wind. Especially when it comes to your love life.


May 17, 2018 


JAN 20 - FEB 18 

This week you get back into the driver's seat in your life, which is a fabulous place to be! Mars, the planet of assertive energy, will enter Aquarius on Wednesday and remains here for months to come -- an unusual stretch of time. For now, this will be a positive time where you're feeling sexy, in your power, and have the ability to get whatever -- and whomever -- you want in your life. If you're in a relationship, the passion will be kicked up a notch or two between you. If you are single, you're oozing sexy vibes right now. People are noticing.



FEB 19 - MAR 20 

Love is all around you, Pisces. Do you see it? Do you feel it? Don't worry -- very soon you will. On Saturday Venus will move into your romance sector for the first time in a year. Venus remains in this part of your chart through June 13, and during this time you'll have an amazing opportunity to nurture a brand-new romantic relationship with someone who literally makes you feel like home. The sense of familiarity and safety you'll feel with this person will be uncanny. Trust it, Pisces. It's real and beautiful. In a relationship? There might be baby news on the way. 

Category: Arts & Culture

May 03, 2018 

By Lapacazo Sandoval 

Contributing Writer 


His name is Jongnic Bontemps, remember it. In the very near future, it’s going to be popping up a lot. 


Bontemps is a gifted music composer and the owner of Composer Tech, and it’s his musical composition in the new documentary “United Skates” (by directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown) that is causing the strong pre-festival buzz, and that’s always good news for new filmmakers and film festival honchos. It might also be one of the key reasons the production company, Get Lifted Film Co. and partners John Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius have just joined as executive producers of “United Skates.” 


Making its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival (April 19th), “United Stakes” is a documentary that centers on the battle in a racially charged environment to save African-American roller rinks, an underground subculture that has thrived for decades in the U.S., supporting community and helping hip-hop grow by featuring acts from Ice Cube and Dr. Dre in Los Angeles to Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, and Naughty by Nature on the East Coast. Their rinks have been dwindling, and the doc becomes part history lesson and part investigation into racial politics as the filmmakers visit Black rink owners in L.A., Chicago, North Carolina and elsewhere.


In speaking with the film’s music composer Jongnic Bontemps, it's absolutely clear that he operates from a place of great love.


The word “love” is described as an intense feeling of deep affection. Connecting the power of that word to how “babies fill parents with intense feelings of love” which is with deep affection, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment, and endearment.


Jongnic Bontemps loves music. A family man with a supportive wife and two sons, his success as a music composer almost didn’t happen, like many creative people who dream of careers that fit their passionate side, life happened and making money, and for Bontemps, good money became his focus for a long, long time. Then something happened ... he found a music composition teacher at USC (Univesity of Southern California) and convinced him to give him private lessons, driving from the Bay Area, to L.A., he was determined to find a way to merge his two passions, and he did so by creating Composer Tech, but let me rewind.


An entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, Bontemps well-paid day job for 15 years consisted of building award-winning software products, enterprise web-based applications, and pioneering software as a service for software security, building and managing state of the art data centers. He also hired and developed quality assurance and product management teams. As the owner of L.A. based Composer Tech to this day, he still maintains his network of software engineers, data center operators and IT professionals that can be harnessed to solve the needs of his Composer Tech's clients.


A graduate of the Scoring for Motion Picture and Television program at the University of Southern California (USC), Bontemps seamlessly blends his vast experience in computing and software with his experience as a composer. 


It’s such a unique position.


Here is an excerpt from an hour-long conversation with the music composer of “United Skates” and owner of Composer Tech Jongnic Bontemps


L.A. Watts Times:  I enjoyed listening to your compositions, so much so that I am now using them as background music when I write, so thank you.


Jongnic Bontemps: (laughing) You are welcome.  I saw your Twitter compliment, and I “liked it” so thank you.


LAWT: At first glance, your road to becoming a music composer isn’t exactly, well traditional, is it? Or is it?  You had a brilliant career in Silicon Valley, true?


JB: (laughing) Yes, that is true. I spent 15 years in Silicon Valley working as a software developer, development manager, and ultimately as an entrepreneur. 


LAWT: I am floored by your tech background.  Where did you learn music composition if you were killing it in Silicon Valley? It’s not a natural connector, you have to train to become a music composer, correct?


JB: Correct, I am a graduate of the Scoring for Motion Picture and Television program at the University of Southern California (USC), but to get there took time. I found a teacher from USC and convinced him to give me private lessons while still working in the tech field. It wasn’t long before I knew that studying composition, full time, was what I needed and, what I wanted to do.


LAWT: The camaraderie of USC film graduates has achieved legend status, I’ve personally witnessed it, and it’s nothing less than impressive.


JB: (laughing) You are 100% correct. [USC alumni] We absolutely look out for each other. It’s more than just simple networking, there is a genuine respect that we have for each other and the program. We [alumni] know just how detailed the training is at USC, for me, in the film program, at least. There is a lot of great talent out there especially in the composer field, it’s exciting.


LAWT: Is this why you were motivated to start Composer Tech, which is designed exclusively for composers?


JB: (Laughing) In part, yes. I have a wife, and two sons so I still have to pay the bills. It's because I am a composer myself that I am able to develop IT and music technology solutions that work for film, TV and game composers.  Being a composer, I intuitively understand the needs and so my company Composer Tech builds custom targeted solutions.  It's fun and I get to work with other composers, that’s a job perk. I also have a studio in my home.


LAWT: I can hear the joy in your voice, you sound like a little kid. But where did you have your first taste of pure music?


JB: I do have my roots in the church and jazz world. I am a pianist. I grew up in Brooklyn and I studied music at Yale, and then USC. Music has always been a part of my life.


LAWT: As a composer, you were also very carefully nurtured, having been accepted in several important composition labs, correct?


JB: Correct, yes. I was selected as a Sundance Lab Composer Fellow in 2013 and, in 2014 I received a Time Warner Artist Fellowship.  Wow, time is really moving fast. I think I’ve worked on over 50 projects from film, TV and video games.  I still love doing work on short films, a lot.  And, again, my side business (Composer Tech) allows me to meet all types of composers, and that's exciting!


LAWT: In the world of musical composition, who have you worked alongside?


JB: Great question, some of the industry’s biggest for sure, like Alan Silverstri, Alexandre Desplat, Bruce Broughton, Danny Elfman, Christopher Lennertz, Christophe Beck, Marco Beltrami and Theodore Shapiro. Nothing beats real-life experience, another reason why I still love working on short films. In hip-hop, I also collaborated with Erykah Badu and NAS on the original song ‘This Bitter Land’ for the Sundance film 'The Land.”


LAWT: Thanks, let’s get back to the Tribeca Film Festival and the sound of “United Skates.” What should people expect?


JB: Definitely, my love for what I call the “hip-hop rhythmic elements” right alongside traditional film score components, let’s call it “instrumental hip-hop” (no lyrics). 


LAWT: I don’t know how you can find the time, Sir, but is there anything else that you’re doing that is not in your bio?


JB: Umm, let me think.  Does it say that I am also a teacher?


LAWT: (laughing). No, it does not. Details, please?


JB: Well, I teach. I am a scoring professor at USC (University of Southern California).


LAWT: Ok, I am finished, it's only 24 hours in a day.  More on the teaching and your company, later when we meet in New York for the premiere of “United Skates” at Tribeca Film Festival, 2018.


To learn more about  Composer Tech:  https://www.composertech. com/about


To visit the trailer for “United Skates”:

Category: Arts & Culture

May 03, 2018 

By Stacy M. Brown 

NNPA Newswire Contributor 


Convicted comedian Bill Cosby will remain on house arrest until he’s sentenced this summer following his conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent sexual assault.


Judge Steven T. O’Neill ordered Cosby to get written permission from adult probation officials, if he wants to leave his Philadelphia area home to visit his doctor or to meet with lawyers.


Those are the only movements he’s allowed, and they must be within a five-county radius of Montgomery County. Cosby has been fitted with a tracking device, so that court officials can monitor him.


“This was a man who had evaded this moment for far too long,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said after the verdict.


Steele said that Cosby had “shown his true colors,” when the legendary actor called the prosecutor an “a—hole” after Steele argued that he should immediately be locked up following the verdict. O’Neill ruled that Cosby could remain free on the same $1 million bail he posted when he was arraigned in December of 2015.


“We still believe that Mr. Cosby is innocent of these charges,” lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau said. “The fight isn’t over.”


About an hour after the verdict and before Cosby left the courthouse, several of his defense team members huddled, including attorneys Jaya Gupta and Rachael Robinson, both sobbing.


An emotional Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s chief spokesman, said the trial was reminiscent of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Mississippi African American whose lynching after he was accused of whistling at a White woman, ignited the Civil Rights Movement.


“This became a public lynching,” Wyatt said. “What Gloria Allred was able to do, she took a salt and pepper shaker. She [shook] out a lot of salt and sprinkled in a little black pepper and the South came east.”


Ebonee Benson, who joined Wyatt on morning television shows after the verdict, said the comparison to Emmett Till is real.


“We can take a look at Emmett Till,” she said. “Since when are all women honest?”


Several television analysts questioned the verdict.


Lawyer and famed CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson, who before the verdict said the case should have been declared a mistrial, said after the decision that Cosby’s team has “many grounds for appeal.” He said he was stunned by the verdict as well as the swiftness in which the jury delivered it.


“Certainly, the prosecution put up vigorous case … but I thought the defense did a significant job of discrediting Andrea Constand giving the jury an indication that there was a number of lies she told over a period of time,” Jackson said.


Jackson continued: “The first trial took them 52 hours and they were hung. This time it took 15 hours and they convict, so here we go. I think the most significant grounds were the five accusers. In the first trial, there was one and when you have five, they just have such prejudicial value and I think it just overwhelmed the jury. That’s probably the biggest point in attempting to get Bill Cosby a new trial.”


Jackson called the issue “significant” and one that might allow Cosby, whose facing 30 years in prison, to remain free through the appeal process.

Category: Arts & Culture

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