Obama library confronts the question of symbolism vs. substance Center aims to train people in the nitty-gritty of durable change

Ever since he stepped onto the national political stage, Barack Obama, the symbol, has been in conflict with Barack Obama, the pragmatist.

His famous 2004 Democratic National Convention speech is better remembered for its soaring aspiration than the keep-it-real admonition that people have to partner with government to make progress happen. As president, some critics said, he underachieved and was given insufficient scrutiny because of his race. Others argued that the first black president did not do enough to help black people.

Obama mostly answered with facts and figures about how he repaired the broken economy and worked to slow climate change. Or about how policies such as Obamacare and reworked student loan programs were designed for all Americans but disproportionately benefited African-Americans.

Echoes of that pragmatic Obama could be heard Wednesday as he laid out plans for his presidential center to be built in Chicago’s Jackson Park. There was little talk of symbolic racial achievement but lots of talk about how the project, estimated to cost at least a half billion dollars, could be used to impart practical skills, inspire young people and serve as an engine for economic growth on Chicago’s struggling South Side.

Former President Barack Obama speaks at a community event on the Presidential Center at the South Shore Cultural Center, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Chicago. The Obama Foundation unveiled plans for the former president’s lakefront presidential center, showcasing renderings and a model at an event where former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were expected to give more details.

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Obama said he wanted to develop a presidential center, not just a library or museum, because he wanted it to help people navigate the future, not just reflect on the past. The center, to be constructed over the next four years, will have three buildings laid out in the style of a small college campus. There will be a museum with artifacts from his presidency, a library that will archive his presidential papers, a building to host public events and open space that will integrate into the surrounding park. The plan also envisions a movie studio and recording studio, likely firsts for presidential centers.

“We are interested in having displays and exhibits that can teach young people about not just my presidency, but all the people who led to my presidency,” he said. “The process of struggle and the process of overcoming that I stand on top of.”

In some ways, the center harkens back to Obama’s roots as a community organizer. The former president envisions it serving as a center for training people in the practicalities of leadership, as well as a place to train young people in fields such as filmmaking and coding.

“What we want this to be is the world’s premier institution for training young people and leadership to make a difference in their communities, in their countries and in the world,” Obama said. “That is our goal.”

For a president whose election made him a symbol of racial hope, and whose charisma and eloquence energized supporters and even earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama often talked about the limits of his power. He could not just decree change. Instead, he said, change comes about through persistent, organized effort that shapes politics. “We are the change that we seek,” he would say.

Similarly, Obama does not envision the new center reaching for the sweeping change that some people hoped for when he ascended to the presidency. Instead, he wants it to be a place where people hone the skills needed to make the incremental but durable change that is the stuff of government. He said he hopes to see the center partnering with schools and colleges to teach the process of public policy, activism and politics.

The plans for the most visible monument of Obama’s postpresidency speak to his determination to move beyond symbols to the nitty-gritty of tangible change.

He sees the project, for instance, as a catalyst for upgrading Jackson Park, a 500-acre oasis on the South Side designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also designed New York’s Central Park. Despite its beauty, Obama said, Jackson Park is underused, not easily accessible to pedestrians and a little rough around the edges. “It is not as good as it could be,” he said.

The big public parks in predominantly white areas of town are better, but Obama sees development of his presidential center changing that. The plan calls for closing a six-lane road that bisects the park, creating better access to Lake Michigan, and adding sledding hills, playgrounds, barbecue grills and an open lawn — all of which should make the park more inviting to the mostly black communities that surround it.

While unveiling plans for his center, the former president announced that he and former first lady Michelle Obama were donating $2 million to help fund summer jobs and apprenticeships in Chicago. Those positions will start this summer, in the hope that more young people will be qualified for the estimated 1,500 jobs expected to be generated by construction of the center.

No doubt many of the historians who visit the Obama center after it opens in 2021 will be searching for information to help define the legacy of the nation’s first black president. Did he live up to the hype? Were his achievements more symbolic than substantive? Did he make real change?

But if the plans for this center offer any clues, Obama seems convinced that real change does not start at the top. The former president said his greatest wish for his presidential center is that it instills hope among young people in Chicago.

“It is about the story that our children tell themselves,” Obama said. “If they see a world-class institution in their community, populated by people who come from their community, they have a sense of importance, and that ultimately is what I want to give back.”

Rolling Loud. Essence. Lollapalooza: The 13 best rap and R&B festivals of summer 2017 Chance is everywhere, there’s a hip-hop cruise — plus two big weekends in New Orleans

Summer is upon us — why not make a trip to George, Washington (yes, that’s an actual place), or East Rutherford, New Jersey? By June, even the small city of Manchester, Tennessee, will be a go-to destination. As random as these places may seem, they are music meccas: home to iconic summertime festivals.

The official start to summer isn’t until June 21, but while festival season spans nearly six months of the year (bookended by Coachella in mid-April and Made in America in early September), summer is the peak fest time. Jazz, hip-hop, old-school R&B, trap music — there’s a festival lineup of musical artists out there for everyone.

Be careful, though. Lineups and locations can be deceiving. If there’s one thing we’ve learned early on this season, it’s to resist attending a festival organized by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule. The recent debut of the inaugural Fyre Festival was an utter disaster. It began with so much promise: There was a dope lineup of artists, featuring Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music, Rae Sremmurd, Migos and Lil Yachty, and the location was the Bahamas’ Great Exuma (which has an interesting historical connection to America). The festival now faces a $100 million lawsuit. Fyre, though, is an exception to the rule. Festivals reign supreme come this time of year, and summer 2017 has much to offer. Below are the festivals that should be on your radar as we wind up basketball season, head deep into Major League Baseball and WNBA, and prep for NFL preseason.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — New Orleans

Usher, Black Thought and Questlove perform with Usher & The Roots during the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course on April 29, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Erika Goldring/Getty Images

April 28-May 7

Notable performers: Stevie Wonder, Usher and The Roots, Snoop Dogg, Alabama Shakes, Patti LaBelle, Nas and the Soul Rebels, Corinne Bailey Rae, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly

Happening right now in the Big Easy, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is blessing people with an all-star lineup that specializes in feel-good sounds. There’s the legend Stevie Wonder and the O.G. Snoop Dogg. There’s the sweet-singing Patti Labelle (hope she brought some of her pies) and the Grammy Award-winning blues rock collective Alabama Shakes. Boomers and Gen X-ers from far and wide get to two-step to Maze and Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go,” while hip-hop preservationists get to witness Nas float through tracks from his 1994 Illmatic. But the one set in particular to circle in red ink? Usher performing with The Roots. Imagine Questlove on the hi-hat cymbals of “You Make Me Wanna.” Lord, give us strength.

Rolling Loud — Bayfront Park, Miami

May 5-7

Notable performers: Everybody and they mama

Do I go see Future at 9 p.m. on one stage, or Travis Scott on the other stage at 9:30? Do I go see Kendrick Lamar at 10, or Young Thug at 10:30? These are the unfathomable questions that festivalgoers will ask themselves at Rolling Loud — which is the best hip-hop festival lineup since the Rock The Bells days of the mid-2000s. Rolling Loud has come a long way since its debut as a one-day show in 2015 with Schoolboy Q as the headliner. In 2016, it was a three-day event with Future leading the pack. This year’s lineup, though? Kendrick Lamar, Future, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Young Thug … the fact that Migos is on the fifth line of the bill is mind-boggling.

Broccoli City Festival — Washington, D.C.

Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals perform on the main stage at the 2016 Broccoli City Festival.

Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post via Getty Images

May 6

Notable performers: Solange, Rae Sremmurd, 21 Savage, Lil Yachty

In the backyard of the country’s 45th president will be a unique display of unapologetic and green-living blackness: Broccoli City. The festival boasts brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi, who form Tupelo, Mississippi’s, own rock star rap duo known as Rae Sremmurd — the geniuses behind the 2016 megahit “Black Beatles.” The young phenom 21 Savage will be out there “trappin’ so hard,” and headlining the show will be Solange, fresh off winning her first Grammy for “Cranes in the Sky,” the lead track from her No. 1 album A Seat at the Table. Remember, don’t touch Solange’s hair. Don’t touch Lil Yachty’s either. He’ll be taking the stage at Broccoli City, too, swinging his red-beaded braids.

Powerhouse 2017 — Glen Helen Amphitheater, San Bernardino, California

May 6

Notable performers: Big Sean, Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled

Lil Wayne hasn’t released an album in almost two years, but people still love Weezy, and they’ll be there to see him break out his deep catalog of hits at the Powerhouse, hosted by Los Angeles’ Power 106 FM. Wayne will be joined by Detroit’s own Big Sean and the king of the summer anthem himself, DJ Khaled, who recently dropped “I’m The One,” the first single from his highly anticipated album Grateful. And with Khaled set to take the stage, you gotta wonder: Which surprise guests will he bring along? (Insert eyes emoji) Hope his 6-month-old son and executive producer, Asahd, is one of them.

Sasquatch! Festival — Gorge Amphitheatre, George, Washington

Leon Bridges plays an acoustic pop-up show at the Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre on May 29, 2016 in George, Washington.

Suzi Pratt/WireImage

May 26-28

Notable performers: Frank Ocean, Chance The Rapper, Kaytranada, Mac Miller

What better way to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend than with Frank Ocean and Chance The Rapper at one of the most beautiful venues in the country? The Sasquatch! Festival, which launched in 2002, is bringing both for the three-day festival. Ocean headlines Day 1, and Chance closes out Day 3. These two artists became musical gods last summer, with Ocean dropping his first album in four years, and then another album days later, and Chance releasing a Grammy Award-winning mixtape. Both deserve to be on that stage as the last act of the night. Spoiler alert: This won’t be the last time you see Chance’s name on this list.

Spoiler alert: This won’t be the last time you see Chance’s name on this list.

The Governor’s Ball — Randall’s Island Park, New York City

Fans react as De La Soul performs at the Governors Ball Music Festival, June 4, 2016 in New York.

BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images

June 2-4

Notable performers: Chance The Rapper, Schoolboy Q, Majid Jordan, Kehlani, Childish Gambino, Wu-Tang Clan, Rae Sremmurd, A$AP Ferg, YG, Wiz Khalifa, Logic

Another Chance The Rapper festival appearance? Yup, another Chance The Rapper festival appearance. Can’t knock the hustle, and what’s so crazy is, while he’s hitting all these festivals, he’ll be in the thick of his own nationwide spring tour. In New York City, he’ll tee up an epic weekend of music. To be honest, the roster for Day 2 rivals the depth of the Golden State Warriors: YG, A$AP Ferg, Rae Sremmurd, Wu-Tang Clan and Childish Gambino. Sheesh. If you have to pick just one day to go, Saturday is your day.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival — Manchester, Tennessee

Recording artist Chance The Rapper performs onstage at Silent Disco during Day 4 of the 2016 Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival on June 9, 2016 in Manchester, Tennessee.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival

June 8-11

Notable performers: Chance The Rapper, The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Tory Lanez, D.R.A.M., Skepta, Gallant

The city of Manchester, Tennessee’s, population of approximately 10,100 balloons by tens of thousands when the masses flock to the fields and stages of Bonnaroo, where the wide range of performers include U2, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd, Travis Scott and D.R.A.M. And, yes, Chance The Rapper will be at Bonnaroo. His festival appearance tally is up to three.

Summer Jam — MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Travis Scott, Kanye West and Big Sean perform at the 2016 Hot 97 Summer Jam at MetLife Stadium on June 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Manny Carabel/FilmMagic

June 11

Notable performers: Too many to count

Summer Jam is an institution. Since 1994, the New York City radio station Hot 97 has preserved the sanctity of the hip-hop genre and black musical culture by hosting artists such as The Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, Big Pun, Missy Elliott, 50 Cent, Eminem, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z — let’s just stop there, because we could be here all day listing names. Chris Brown, Fat Joe and Remy Ma, Migos and DJ Khaled “& friends,” as noted on the lineup, are among 2017’s crop. One of the most special sets of the show will certainly be delivered by Faith Evans. It’s been exactly 20 years since her husband, The Notorious B.I.G., was murdered in Los Angeles in 1997. She’ll likely perform songs from her new album, which features the slain rapper. Will there be a hologram? R.I.P., B.I.G.

Summerfest — Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee

June 28-July 2 and July 4-9

Notable performers: Future, Big Sean, Migos

Scrolling through the lineup page of 2017 Summerfest, it’s hard to get past a row without discovering another bomb artist who’s scheduled to perform. Ironically, Summerfest has the most diverse bill of any festival this year. The main amphitheater features Paul Simon, Pink, The Chainsmokers, Future, Big Sean, Migos, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and Sheryl Crow. (How much you want to bet Willie Nelson and the Migos blow an L together?) But don’t sleep on the ground-stage performers, who include Alessia Cara, Steve Aoki, Ziggy Marley, T-Pain, BJ The Chicago Kid and more.

Ironically, Milwaukee’s Summerfest has the most diverse bill of any festival this year.

ESSENCE Festival — New Orleans

Singer Andra Day performs onstage at 2016 ESSENCE Festival Presented by Coca Cola at the Louisiana Superdome on July 3, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for 2016 Essence Festival

June 29-July 2

Notable performers: Diana Ross, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Chance The Rapper, Solange, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, India.Arie, Monica, Jazmine Sullivan

Still looking for a Mother’s Day gift for your mama, aunt or granny that you will enjoy as well? Go ahead and cop those ESSENCE Festival tickets. They’ll love you forever, because this lineup is LOADED. Three generations of #BlackGirlMagic will take the stage in the form of Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige and Solange. If that isn’t enough R&B for you, John Legend, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, India.Arie and Monica all have you covered. New Orleans hometown hero Master P will also be performing. Oh, and Chance The Rapper will be there (that’s four festivals and counting).

Summer Fest Cruise — Miami to Nassau, Bahamas

June 30-July 3

Notable performers: Future, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky, Migos

There is nothing in the history of this universe that could be more fun than a five-day cruise from Miami to the Bahamas featuring performances from Future, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky and Migos, hosted by none other than DJ Khaled. If you haven’t booked yet, congratulations, you played yourself. Don’t worry, though, DJ Khaled’s Snapchat stories will keep you in the loop — and in the process give you the worst fear of missing out you’ve ever had.

Lollapalooza — Grant Park, Chicago

A general view of crowds watching Flume perform on the Samsung stage during Lollapalooza at Grant Park on July 31, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.

Daniel Boczarski/Redferns

Aug. 3-6

Notable performers: Chance The Rapper, Run The Jewels, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Rae Sremmurd, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Lil Yachty, Joey Bada$$, 6lack, Sampha

Lil Chano from 79th is coming home. After winning three Grammys and embarking upon a cross-country tour (with multiple festival appearances in between), Chance The Rapper is returning to his hometown of Chicago in August as one of the headliners of the four-day, jam-packed Lollapalooza festival. Chance has to bring out former President Barack Obama during his Saturday set. The two saints of Chicago dancing together onstage would be nothing short of legendary.

Made in America — Philadelphia

Jay-Z performs with Pearl Jam during Budweiser Made In America Festival Benefiting The United Way – Day 2 at Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 2, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Sept. 2-3

Notable performers: Jay Z, J. Cole, Migos, Solange, Run The Jewels, Sampha, Pusha T, Vic Mensa

The finale of festival season couldn’t feature two better top performers. A mentor and mentee. Mr. Miyagi and Daniel Son. One of the greatest of all time in American music and one of the leaders of its new school. Jay Z and J. Cole are the marquee names of this year’s anticipated weekend, with Hov headlining after the warmup from Cole. With Jay’s sister-in-law Solange also on the bill, Made in America 2017 will be all about keeping the family close and fans screaming.

Ray Allen talks about his passion for teaching others about the Holocaust The activist and 10-time All-Star was sworn in to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council

After former NBA 3-point legend Ray Allen retired in November 2016, the two-time NBA champ picked up something he’d started more than three decades ago: to study, raise awareness, connect cultural lines and advocate for Holocaust history.

It all started at the University of Connecticut in 1993, when a young Allen developed a curiosity about the Holocaust. He began to frequent the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and his education there fueled a full-on passion project. Now he has chosen to lead by example. He encourages those close to him, and anyone who will listen, to learn about Holocaust education through his dedication to the cause.

And now the 41-year-old former shooting guard is on the governing board of the museum where he first found his cause. Officially sworn in Tuesday four months after being appointed to the position by President Barack Obama, Allen raised his right hand and took the council member’s oath in a ceremony at the museum during Days of Remembrance, the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust.

“I am proud to serve in this role and to continue to share the important messages and lessons we all need to remember from the Holocaust,” Allen said in a statement. “I want to inspire people to break down stereotypes, and treat one another — regardless of race, religion or anything else — like family. It’s more important now than ever.”

Allen wants to show others that cultural relevancy is shared between groups and discussion should not be limited to a single issue. He has visited the museum many times, each time bringing a different friend, teammate or coach.

Ray Allen is sworn into the board of directors for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

The museum is a living memorial to the Holocaust. According to its website, it inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity.

Allen was selected fifth overall in the 1996 NBA draft by Milwaukee, where he stayed until 2003. He went on to play for the Seattle SuperSonics, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, winning championships in 2008 with Boston and in 2013 with Miami. He polished his game and became the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals. The 2000 Olympic gold medalist also once took his game to the big screen, starring in the 1998 Spike Lee film He Got Game. Also a 10-time NBA All-Star, he founded the Ray of Hope Foundation in 1996. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to “assist with sports-related, community-based programs and provide avenues of opportunity through which our youth can hope to realize their full potential,” according to its website.

Allen spoke to The Undefeated about his journey into Holocaust history and education and why he’s now on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council.


How did you first become interested in the Holocaust?

It started in ’93 when I was in college. I knew about the Holocaust, but I didn’t actually understand the players. Everything was like a shock to my system to understand this could take place and people didn’t really do anything about it.

It did something to my soul to be more cognizant of people around me. Care more about the next person. In ’98, I was playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and my owner at the time, I came to D.C. to visit him. We were having a meeting in the summer and I had time to kill, and he suggested I come to the museum.

And I took a two-hour tour, just got in and out ’cause we had a flight to catch. And, again, I was blown away. I thought, This is a place that everybody should go to. It’s just like one of those things that every kid should go to, every person that [if] you’re in D.C., you should come through this museum. And now, since then, the African-American museum had been built, and I believe the same thing about that museum. Both can teach the same lessons.

The one feedback I got from a lot of people: ‘What about slavery?’ I said, ‘This is slavery. This is slavery. There’s so many different acts of genocide and oppression in the history of the world.’ And I said, ‘The Holocaust is a lesson that we all need to learn so it doesn’t happen again.’ So, I took, from that day forward — every year, whatever team I played on — I would bring them to this museum.

Like, we set in this hall, 7:30, 8 o’clock at night after having gone through the museum and people just kind of in reflection of what they’d just seen, this experience, all the atrocities, and it humbled a lot of people. So it put us in a frame of mind that we started understanding that we play games for a living. People are so tied into what we do, and they make it seem like it’s such an enormous event to watch a basketball game and to follow an athlete, but this seems like this is more important. It touched a lot of people.

And so, from then on and forward I’ve brought my family here. People just know I always come here. It’s an important teaching tool, and we can never forget the moments that shape up, shape our country and where we come from.

Now that you’ve been educated more on this atrocity and the history of blacks here in America, how closely intersected do you think we are?

Well, for the longest time I’ve had like this … despair. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but I’ll go with that for now, in relation to Memphis. I had this gut-wrenching feeling every time I went to Memphis. Before I even went there I felt that way. So the very first time I went there, I was troubled. And I went to the Lorraine Motel — like, I just left the hotel and I walked down the street, went to the Lorraine Motel because I needed to see where MLK was killed.

Ray Allen tours the museum back in 2008.

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

And so, the whole time it’s like looking at history and trying to understand history and how it played out in my life, even though I didn’t live in that era. Everything he did affected me up to this point where I’m able to play in the NBA and eat at restaurants, walk down main streets of cities, make the money I’m making.

Like, this motel is so symbolic for a lot of my life. So the oppression, the racism, the bigotry, what went on during the civil rights movement was everything similar to what happened during the Holocaust, you know, starting back in the ’30s and the ’40s. Between the Jewish people and black people, we’ve been heavily oppressed.

One thing that I would love to see, and you start to see it now, more with the building of the African-American museum, is the black culture coming together so we can tell our story. For many years, it was almost like our country wouldn’t accept the bad things it did to black people. The oppression, the racism, just all the negative issues that we’ve dealt with as people, we’re still recovering.

So, I think between both museums, there’re opportunities for all of us to learn that each one of us were equal, and you can’t create somebody less than a human. And it’s here in D.C.; they’re examples for every child. The bully starts off in a small fashion, but he could grow into a dictator. All we had to do is walk into one of these museums and you see what the bullies did. How they controlled societies, controlled people, and it gets ugly.

How has visiting the Holocaust museum been inspiring for you?

You see the names of people who’ve fought, who survived under extreme circumstances. What would I have done in each of these situations, would I have been tough? You get to see great examples of people who are extremely tough, who defied the odds, who survived countless horrors.

Ray Allen tours the Holocaust Museum with his family. Mr. Allen was recently appointed to the Museum Council.

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Not being able to eat, not being clothed properly — it teaches you to live stronger and not be such a complainer and a worry wart. But then the people who did, they lived to tell their story, and that’s one of the only reasons why we have this building we’re sitting in, because people told the story.

How do you feel being the guy to encourage Holocaust history education?

I think anything that’s for the good is definitely worth the conversation. And we have to be careful that we get caught up in, like, how the message delivered. Just pay attention to the message. It happens to be me talking about it, walking in and out of the museum. Taking a picture, putting it on Instagram and educating people about certain things. I want people to look at something that I post, or something that I say, and then for themselves say, ‘You know what, I should go see that for myself.’

Are your kids old enough to understand the work that you’re doing with the Holocaust Museum?

Yeah, we’ve sat in this room, listened to all the survivors tell their stories, and they were sad. They just asked questions, like, ‘Why would somebody do something like this?’

I have a 24-year-old, 12, 10, 7, and 5-year-old boys. The world is so small. They have access to everything. I try not to hide the world from them. Because it’s happening right in front of us. I try to just let them experience everything, and then talk to them about it and see how they feel, get them thinking from a spirited perspective. I want my children to be very aware of the world that they’re walking into.

How do you think we can integrate more cultural history that’s not our own into our community?

It’s just education, it’s just reading. Programs that are put in place that allow kids to read. And read something different. Something that involves your life or something that involves somebody else’s life that teaches you about the world that we live in or we come from.

But it’s important that the parents set a mandate to what kids continue to learn. We just can’t rely on our teachers at school to teach our kids.

What do you see going forward in your journey?

Well, in two weeks I’m going to Poland, so I’m going to Auschwitz. I’ll be firsthand at a concentration camp. I get to walk those grounds and feel exactly everything that I’m knowing, that I’ve seen personally in this museum and heard from survivors and watched in movies. Just to continue to have the conversation and talk to people I know about it. It’s one thing to post stuff on Instagram about things that I have.

What was the hardest thing about visiting the Holocaust Museum?

It was a lot. I saw a rail car that was bent because they took the bodies of the dead and they burned them on it, and the flames were so hot it just kind of, twisted. Imagine that temperature that’s twisting steel like that. Walk into a room and seeing hair. Walk into a room and seeing shoes. These are actually real people’s items. Like, it’s real. It’s not a prop. This is not even small, like, half of what the inventory is that they have.

How did your teammates respond after their first visit? Were they grateful for you bringing them here?

The fact that I had the access to be able to get people here, that’s one of the blessings of our reach when you play in NBA, to be able to do things with so many people and show them different places they would’ve never seen otherwise. Each one, teach one. When you do something, great, you take people with you so you could share your experiences.

Daily Dose: 4/26/17 Barack Obama is taking money from Wall Street

The Houston Rockets did something crazy last night, but it worked out. They sold beer for a dollar before the game last night, and thankfully they didn’t end up with a Ten Cent Beer Night situation from the ’70s in Cleveland.

In the latest edition of ‘Should we be worried about this?’ we have two cases. Number one is the situation in South Korea. The military is effectively girding its loins for what could be a dangerous situation should North Korea decide to make a move on that front. Today’s the day that elected officials gather at the White House to be briefed on the circumstance. Secondarily, President Donald Trump has decided that he’s going all the way to the wall over the matter of sanctuary cities, claiming he’ll be taking them to court if they don’t change their ways.

Barack Obama has done plenty for this nation. Aside from being commander in chief for eight years, he served the country as an elected official for years before that. Point being, his record as a stand-up person is solid. But now that he’s out of the Oval Office, he’s free to do as he pleases, taking speaking fees and the like. But taking $400K from Wall Street is not a good look. It’s worth noting that, back in the day, he criticized said fat cats for their greed, so taking their money now seems disingenuous.

People love playing with their faces on the internet. It’s basically the reason why Snapchat got popular and, in general, is basically never going to get old. Manipulating one’s image is as old as humankind itself. So when the latest version of said filter, a thing called FaceApp, hit the market, it was obviously popular. I’m still creeped out about people posting photos of what they’ll look like when they’re old, as that’s just not a smart thing to do, IMO. Shockingly, it turns out the app was racist as hell.

It seems like a whole lot of people are looking to play pro basketball. Ever since they relaxed the rules to allow college players to participate in combine drills and NBA evaluations if they don’t sign with an agent, far more players have been declaring just to make sure that there isn’t a chance they might skyrocket up a draft board at some point. What that’s also done is let players be evaluated by other non-NBA folks, which is still playing ball for money. This year, 182 players declared for the NBA draft. Wow.

Free Food

Coffee Break: You know how people say that hip-hop has more references to drugs than any other genre of music? Welp, turns out that’s a huge lie. According to a new study, that crown goes to country music, but I can tell that it’s flawed because it’s counting Wu-Tang Clan and Method Man mentions of “meth” as drug references.

Snack Time: Why anyone would want to own a pair of jeans that looked like they were extremely dirty, legit muddy, when they had in fact done no work is beyond me. But Nordstrom is selling them for $400, if you’re into that.

Dessert: When it comes to crossover, do not EVER come for Allen Iverson. Ever.

Daily Dose: 4/24/17 Should we remove Confederate statues? New Orleans says yes

It was a busy weekend. I was on Outside The Lines on Friday, and we discussed the New England Patriots at the White House, Serena Williams, U.S. women’s national soccer team’s Mallory Pugh and MLB umpires. And, per usual, The Morning Roast was a blast.

To be the president of the United States of America, you’ve got to be sharp. There are so many things to handle that any outside distractions or lack of concentration can mean bad news for the rest of the world, which depends on that stability. So when the commander in chief sits down with The Associated Press and says a bunch of things that are rambling, illogical and not really making sense, there’s reason for pause. Also, because a lot of it was unintelligible. Also, I had no idea that President Barack Obama did this when it came to the Oval Office.

How should we celebrate our history? Is it by removing all the scars and thus possibly risking erasure of a time that, though horrible, still existed? Or do we leave standing symbols of hate, oppression, discrimination and inequality to teach us that we were once an awful place and we should never forget that? That has the alternate effect, however, of normalizing the existence of very harmful cultural norms. Well, New Orleans is taking the former stance and tearing statues down. Meanwhile, states are recognizing Confederate Memorial Day.

As a kid, I watched a lot of cartoons. I was one of those children who had a television as a baby sitter, so quite a few were on my radar, going back decades. But because characters are typically not humans, there’s always a way to interpret who they are through race that will be singular to each person. Of course, depending on who voices them, you’ll feel differently about their identity. But most of the best are black. This story manages to break that down but somehow manages to leave out Hong Kong Phooey and Panthro from ThunderCats.

Fred Hoiberg picked a really odd time to voice his concerns. After the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls to tie the series up Sunday, the Chicago head coach tried to say that Isaiah Thomas, and basically the whole way he plays, is illegal. Sounding like an extremely old white guy, he basically said that IT4 is impossible to guard if he’s cheating. Mind you, for one, we’re still only a week away from the death of Thomas’ younger sister. Also, what league has Hoiberg been watching his whole life? This is how people play basketball now, Fred. Sorry not sorry.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Some folks have no home training and will do anything to win. So when this jerk decided to hit a little kid in an arena timeout game to gain an advantage, the Utah Jazz mascot decided to take matters into his own hands. The dude got everything he deserved and lost the race, to boot.

Snack Time: Every time I see Baylor’s name in a headline that doesn’t have a score, I just assume something bad has happened. Now, a guy who supports former football coach Art Briles is trying to rebrand himself. Gross.

Dessert: Y’all can have your promposals. This dress is as woke as it gets.

President Obama leads talk at University of Chicago in first public appearance Obama has returned to the spotlight to keep spreading words of hope

Excellence. Class. Hope. Commitment. Service. The Obama family embodies the new American dream — a dream that includes all people. President Barack, a biracial boy with a funny name. First lady Michelle, a hardworking girl from around the way. Their daughters, Malia and Sasha, millennials who grew up in the public eye while navigating normal teen life.

For eight years, the nation witnessed the power of a black family, woven together by love for each other and love for their country. And, although those eight years have come to a close, the Obamas’ legacy is just beginning to unfold. The Undefeated will be following along every step of the way. Whether they’re on vacation, going to a show or speaking at an event, we’ll be there to give you the latest and greatest of our favorite family. Because after all: Yes we can, yes we did, and yes we will continue.


“My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop. In fact, I will be right there with you as a citizen for all my remaining days.” – President Barack Obama

During his farewell address, President Barack Obama made a final promise to serve the country as a private citizen. After a well-deserved vacation where he spent time with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters; sailed the high seas with the likes of other influencers, including Oprah; and quite literally glowed, President Obama is making good on his final promise to his constituents: to serve.

Former US President Barack Obama participates in a ‘conversation on community organizing and civic engagement’ at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 24 April 2017. The event is the first public function for Obama since leaving office in January.

EPA/TANNEN MAURY

Monday marks his first official post-presidential appearance, leading a talk on civic engagement and community organizing at the University of Chicago, where he formerly was a law professor.

Former President Barack Obama greets youth leaders at the University of Chicago as he arrives for a forum to promote community organizing on April 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The visit marks Obama’s first formal public appearance since leaving office.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Held at the Logan Center for the Arts, Obama is joined by six activists: some from local Kenwood Academy High School, some high school students and some older, Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis told the Chicago Sun-Times. The talk serves as the first installment of the 44th U.S. president rolling up his sleeves alongside the American people. After today’s conversation in Chicago, there will be several other high-profile events around the country and in Berlin and Milan.

Former President Barack Obama (C) visits with youth leaders at the University of Chicago to help promote community organizing on April 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The visit marks Obama’s first formal public appearance since leaving office.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago has always held special meaning for Obama, as it is the city where he became a highly regarded community organizer. It is no coincidence that his first post-presidential engagement is spent alongside young people discussing the very thing that sparked his legacy — service. Obama has long credited his three-year stretch as a grass-roots organizer as “the best education I ever had, better than anything I ever got at Harvard Law School.”

Obama got a little much-needed rest and relaxation, and now he’s back in action.

Bradley Beal and John Wall replace Bill Cosby on mural at Ben’s Chili Bowl Wizards teammates get their spot in the sun just in time for the NBA playoffs

After five years of former President Barack Obama, Chuck Brown, DJ Donnie Simpson and Bill Cosby greeting patrons in the form of a mural on the side of Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C., the building received a temporary face-lift with the smiling images of Washington Wizards backcourt mates John Wall and Bradley Beal, just in time for the NBA playoffs.

The replacement mural, which was completed April 11, had been in the works since January, when Ben’s Chili Bowl let customers decide who would be next to grace the side of the building. Of the 60 celebrities, athletes, musicians, activists and actors the customers could choose from, Wall and Beal are a natural fit to represent D.C.

“I’ve been painted, but I’ve never had a painting on a big wall before,” Beal said.

“Whenever you’re riding down U Street, you look up, you’re gonna see those two guys as we head into these playoffs. We’re going to win and we’re going to win and we’re going to win at least a few rounds,” Kamal Ali, owner of Ben’s Chili Bowl, told CSN.

“It’s surreal to look up and you think about certain things and wonder how you got here,” Wall said at the mural’s unveiling last week, according to The Washington Informer. “It’s definitely an honor to be in a mural on the wall of Ben’s Chili Bowl in a landmark spot of D.C. It’s cool to see all the fans giving us this support.”

The mural, designed by D.C. high school teacher and photographer Robert Generette III, features Wall and Beal in the Wizards’ Stars and Stripes uniforms, smiling with their arms folded across their chests. The mural will be displayed until May.

The owner of the U Street landmark, which opened in 1958, decided it was time for a change to the mural, which featured a portrait of Cosby after he was accused of sexual assault by a number of women.

Daily Dose: 4/10/17 Stars come out for Tupac’s Hall of Fame induction

Big news in radio world. Sort of. All three hours of The Morning Roast are now available for podcast, if you can’t listen live. Y’all have been asking, and now you’ve got it. If you haven’t yet, please do subscribe, rate and review!

Travel can be stressful. Dealing with airports and the like can take its toll on you. But should you ever be in a situation in which you are given incentive to not get on a plane, take your options seriously. Because if you’re on United, you just might get knocked out and dragged off a flight by police officers for not “volunteering” to leave on your own. It happened to a doctor, and it was captured on video. Seriously, watch this. All because they wanted their own employees to be able to catch the flight.

Tupac Shakur was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame over the weekend. Snoop Dogg gave his induction speech, and it was pretty epic. It’s honestly really refreshing to hear people talk about Shakur as more than just an outsize gangsta rapper whose life ended too early. But T.I. decided to pay homage to ‘Pac at the ceremony, and it didn’t really go that well. This is not an easy outfit to pull off, and Tip might want to think twice before moving into the leather vest game. Some of these zings are straight-up hilarious.

The United States sent missiles into Syria last week. Never mind the fact that when President Barack Obama considered doing this, everyone balked. Never mind the fact that this country is apparently bombing one country to stop it from bombing itself. And never mind the fact that the entire decision could drastically upset the political situation in that part of the world and globally because of allied interests. What apparently drove Trump to do this: disturbing images. Maybe someone should show him images of Flint, Michigan.

Batting helmets are important. Obviously, they’re designed to protect baseball players from injury, but as a style component, they matter a lot. It’s crazy to think there was a time in the bigs when batters didn’t even wear them. Anyway, times are changing in MLB, where quite a few teams have gone to a matte look, which I love, by the way. Now, the Atlanta Braves are going next level for the opening of their new park. Be sure to check out the lids that feature something called “hydro dripping, which just sounds dope.

Free Food

Coffee Break: We’re always leery when there’s a story that states someone was shot over a completely trivial matter and someone ends up dead. Particularly when family is involved. So something tells me an argument over who would walk the dog is not the only reason this father/son shootout ended poorly.

Snack Time: The story of 5Pointz is so heartbreaking. A public institution, basically, for graffiti art that ended as an insult to the artists who loved it. They’re getting their day in court today over the literal whitewashing of their work.

Dessert: Take this quiz. It’s fun. And colorful.

The life and times of Tiffanie Anderson: from celebrity to homelessness to celebrity artist The former singer with Girlicious is all about painting for entertainers and celebrities now

She’s been called “The Pretty Artist.” Professional art creator and painter Tiffanie Anderson knows the benefit of hard work, dedication and the power of putting blood, sweat and tears into a labor of love. She spent years painting entertainers and athletes and she continues to broaden her horizons by developing new ways to create art for the famous.

The 28-year-old went from being in the popular girls group Girlicious (formed by Robin Antin of the Pussycat Dolls) when she was just 21 to a highly-regarded artist, painting for athletes such as boxer Floyd Mayweather to actor and singer Ray J — Anderson’s first celebrity client.

Instagram Photo

“I found out that Ray J was going to be somewhere,” Anderson said of presenting her art to him. “I just knew he was going to be at this random location downtown, filming some show. I knew he was going to be there in two hours. So I was like, OK — two hours to paint Ray J. So, I painted Ray J, and then I pulled up on him on the street. He was so nice. I was like, I have something for you. I was nobody at the time, I had no power, he was, like, who are you? You should be more popular. So, then he posted it on his Instagram and then I got a lot of followers from that. And then, he hired me twice after that just for some other stuff. He was my first break into the public. And he was so sweet about it. I will always give him that credit.”

The self-taught artist and Los Angeles native even lived out of her car during the critical time of switching from touring the country as a pop artist to delving into the world of visual art.

As one of the rising stars in the art community, she’s painted for celebrities such as The Weeknd, Matt Kemp, Jason Derulo, Belly, Amber Rose, Dr. Dre, The Roots, Carlos Boozer, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa.

When she was in Girlicious, she painted for Will.i.am and he traded a beat for it.

She’s painted the whole defensive line of the Los Angeles Chargers, Ole Miss standout defensive end Marcus Tillman, Kobe Bryant and others.

The Undefeated spoke to Anderson about her journey.


When did you first start singing?

Anderson: I was singing since I was a little kid. In my mind I always knew. I am going to be a pop star. You could not tell me I wasn’t going to be a pop star. From a little kid, I had zero other aspirations besides being a signer. So funny that I even ended up doing what I do now.

How did you develop into a visual artist?

I was in Girlicious, and it was extremely stressful. It was very, very stressful. The music industry is very crooked. So, I was superstressed out. Something that I can do that will take my attention for a couple of hours, that isn’t about music. I was like, maybe I’ll start drawing again, I haven’t drawn since elementary school. I was 20. I painted Barack Obama, because he was running for president at the time.

Instagram Photo

Why art?

Because I feel like you have one life to live, from what I know. You never know. Maybe there’s such thing as reincarnation. I don’t know, but from what I know, you have one life to live and I just don’t think God put us on the earth to be working at Walmart. I just feel like I have a destiny and I feel my destiny is art and I have to stick to that, because if I don’t stick to that, then I won’t live out my life to full potential.

How did the experience of living out of your car shape you?

I think there’s a lot of power in struggle. I don’t have anything to fall back on. I don’t have dual options, but to succeed at what I’m doing. If I don’t make it, I’ll be back in my car. So, I think going through that struggle motivates me to keep moving forward.

What I do is difficult, it’s physically difficult. I kind of do hard labor every day. It’s hard, No. 1. And then, No. 2, the devil gets in my mind sometimes. Going through the hard times I went through, I could tell other people with full confidence, hey, if you work hard, doing whatever it is you want to do, you have no choice but to succeed. I use myself as an example.

What’s your favorite thing that you’ve ever created?

More recently I’ve started this new style. I used to use glass, but now I’m starting to use crystal and all these different sparkly things. I’m pretty excited about it. Every time I walk into the studio, I’m kind of spellbound by it, and I think it’s so pretty.

What are you trying to communicate through your art?

It’s really simple. I know it’s human nature for people to be attracted to things that are A, large and glittery and shiny. People love that, so I think I just like to kind of get people where they’re spellbound by the materials I use more so than actually what the image is.

What creative medium would you love to pursue that you haven’t yet?

I really want to do art with spikes. The spikes actually have screws on the back, so I would have to screw each one in. I would have to drill each one in, but I think it would make for really cool art.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was: Worry about your art. If you focus on your art, the money will come later, so focus on what you’re passionate about and don’t worry about the money, because that is inevitable. If you’re focusing on your craft, the money is inevitable. It’s going to come anyway. Don’t think about the money, just think about the art. That’s what also helped me make tough decisions in the beginning of my career when I would have to choose between food or canvas.

What’s been your most embarrassing moment?

I had a client that just looked so creepy. He was so creepy-looking. He just looked a serial killer. I don’t know why, but he just did and then I texted my friend, ‘Oh my god, this guy looks a serial killer,’ but I accidentally texted it to him. He said, ‘Did you mean to send that to me?’

What do you dislike most about the art world?

I hate how political it is. It’s very political. I feel like I’m a lot better than a lot of people who are very, very, very successful, but because the politics say that they’re good, they’re good. They could do a squiggly line and a little two drops and then, ‘Wow, that’s art.’ I mean, there’s some art that literally is blank, it looks like a dot, and then, ‘Wow.’ To me, I think that’s the most frustrating.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.

There’s an artist in L.A., his name is Retna. His art is all over the city and so you think you don’t know how he is and then I’ll show you his art, and you’ll be, ‘Oh, damn, I know who that is. I’ve seen his art everywhere.’ He’s dope. I messaged him on Instagram and I said, ‘I would love to come to your studio and work for you. I’ll do it for free. I’ll wipe your sweat.’ He let me come to work for him for one day and I mean, he just knocked out three masterpieces in one day.

What’s been the hardest part of your journey?

The hardest part of my journey is I have to do a lot of mental maintenance on myself because I’m always extremely overwhelmed and overworked and I have a lot of blessings, but with a lot of blessings comes a lot of burdens. I have a lot on my plate all the time, so I’m always having to mentally talk to myself or go through my things that I do to get myself mentally OK.

I think that’s the hardest part. I have a lot of work on my plate and what I do is very physical. It also makes me sick too. A lot of the chemicals I use I’m allergic to, so that’s another thing.

Daily Dose: 3/23/17 Black people again targeted by a murderous white person

Clinton Yates isn’t here today. He was out late celebrating his birthday last night. Actually, he’s in Bristol, Connecticut, handling his business. Little-known fact: Clinton is 137 years old.

NBA players are getting busier … easier. For people of a certain age, you recall the raunchier days of the NBA. From the coke-filled days of the 1980s, the gambling of the 1990s, and the Hpnotiq-and-Hennessy nights of the 2000s, everyone is aware of at least one embarrassing story involving a professional basketball player. But, today, in the era of #brands, the larger-than-life superstars who populate the NBA are no longer straining their bodies late at night, looking for booze and another word that starts with “b.” ESPN writer Tom Haberstroh breaks down the “Tinderization” of today’s NBA.

President Donald Trump is at it again. It seems like it’s been days (or hours, whichever) since the latest Trump administration scandal, but Thursday brought us the commander in chief, himself, in all his glory. Trump sat down with TIME magazine for a wild, wide-ranging interview where he continued his unsubstantiated claims that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, that more than 3 million undocumented people voted in the 2016 election, that Muslims celebrated the attacks on 9/11, and that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was someway connected to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Trump ended the interview by telling the TIME reporter that “I’m president, and you’re not.” Nice.

A white man traveled 200 miles to kill a black man. That’s what New York City police officials are saying happened Wednesday following the stabbing death of 66-year-old Timothy Caughman at the hands of Baltimore resident James Harris Jackson. News reports have identified Jackson as a “well-dressed man” and an Army veteran after he allegedly traveled to New York “specifically intending to target male blacks for assault” because “it’s the media capital of the world.” Over here, we’ll call Jackson the racist terrorist that he is.


Quick notes:

  1. Go eat at the Atlanta Braves’ new stadium.
  2. NBC’s highly entertaining The Carmichael Show returns in May with unedited use of the N-word.
  3. The first Power Rangers movie in 20 years comes out today. Read about six former black Power Rangers and what it meant for them to play that role.