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Hugh Downs, anchor of ’20/20′ and ‘Today,’ dead at 99

Cedric Nettles/Senior Editor

Los Angeles (CNN Business)Hugh Downs, the versatile and Emmy-winning broadcaster whose decades-long TV career ranged from anchoring ABC News’ “20/20” to the “Today” show to serving as Jack Paar’s sidekick on “The Tonight Show,” has died at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 99.Local outlet AZFamily was first to report the news of Downs’ passing, citing a statement from his great-niece, Molly Shaheen.Downs — who retired in 1999 — was essentially there for the very start of commercial television, serving as the announcer for the children’s show “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” and comedy legend Sid Caesar’s “Caesar’s Hour” in the 1950s.In 1957, when Paar succeeded Steve Allen as host of “The Tonight Show,” Downs became the announcer. The next year, Downs launched his run as the original host of the game show “Concentration.”

At “Today,” Downs famously championed the career of Barbara Walters, advocating that the young writer-producer be given an opportunity on camera. The two later teamed up on a syndicated program in the mid-1970s, “Not for Women Only,” before they were later reunited on “20/20.” Downs was not involved with the development and launch of “20/20” in 1978, recalling in an interview with the Television Academy’s Archives of American Television that the premiere was “hideously disastrous” and pummeled by critics. After the first episode, ABC News president Roone Arledge asked Downs to take over as an anchor to fix the show. Downs said that he had wanted to do a show like “60 Minutes,” and the opportunity “fell out of the sky on me.” “’60 Minutes’ created the atmosphere that allowed us to flourish as a competing newsmagazine,” Downs said. Walters joined the program the year after its debut and became Downs’ co-host in 1984. Downs — with his baritone voice and soothing manner — remained with the program until his retirement.Downs won a pair of Emmy awards, for the program “Live From Lincoln Center” and hosting the PBS talk program “Over Easy,” which premiered in 1977 and was aimed at older viewers.Born in Akron, Ohio, Downs began working in radio after college — a stint interrupted by his service during World War II — before landing at NBC-owned WMAQ in Chicago, where he worked in various capacities for several years before moving to New York.Guinness World Records once recognized Downs for having appeared in more hours of U.S. television (roughly 10,000) than anyone else, a record later broken by Regis Philbin.Downs’ wife, Ruth Shaheen Downs, died in 2017 at the age of 95. The two had been married since 1944.

How to become Comfortable with being Uncomfortable Part 1

Life Coach Vuyanzi
Life Coach Vuyanzi

Vuyanzi is a Certified Life, Career, Executive Coach. She is the host of the Black Leading Ladies on Purpose podcast. She is the co-author of 4 books. Life Coach Vuyanzi is the host of “Vuyanzi Coaches.” Sign up for updates! Stay connected. Click here.

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Vuyanzi is a Certified Life Coach, Speaker and Author. She is also the host of the Black Leading Ladies on Purpose podcast and Vuyanzi Coaches on The Coach Channel launching in July of 2020.
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Black Disabled: our place in Hollywood and Mainstream Media

Latrea Wyche/Contributing Writer

This article came from two very different places: one, me sitting at home watching a program on BET called “Black Girls Rock.” While watching this show I began thinking, why is there no representation of African-American women with disabilities, or just African Americans with disabilities period represented in mainstream media or in Hollywood. The more I thought about it the angrier I became. As an African-American woman with a disability, I want to see all aspects of me represented – and this includes in the mainstream media and Hollywood.

Sometimes I feel that African-American Hollywood events are not welcoming of African-American people with disabilities. By not actively promoting that African-American, disabled actors to play character roles of a disabled person, Hollywood continues to give an inaccurate representation of African-Americans with disabilities and takes away jobs from African-American actors with real disabilities. For example, Ray: The story of Ray Charles, Ray Charles was played by Jamie Foxx who did a wonderful job, but why couldn’t the director find an actual African American blind actor to play the part? think about how much more realistic it would have been because you would have received the experience first hand of what a blind person in the music industry deals with verses a representation of a blind person.

To me that like choosing a caucasian to play a role that was meant for an African American actor, a caucasian person has no idea what’s it is like to be black just like an able body person has no idea what it’s like to be disabled. Think of the little African American disabled children that seeing someone that looks like them on the screen, which gives them hope that it could be them one day.

My second reason for writing this article is, the feeling like I am not accepted by my culture because I am disabled. which would explain why there is no representation of African Americans with disabilities in mainstream media or Hollywood, because we are not accepted in our own culture. This not me having a pity party for myself as some would think or me feeling sorry for myself. The above statement is based on my first-hand experience and not just my experience but the experiences of many African Americans with disabilities. When I make statements like that, I usually get “don’t lump us all in the same category” or my personal favorite “some may not understand disability,” it’s 2020 we all have resources available at our fingertips to educate ourselves about various disabilities, not understanding is no longer an excuse.

Latrea Wyche

IG: CoachLatrea

Facebook: Latrea Wyche


Barbra Streisand gives Disney stock to George Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter

Gianna Floyd, the daughter of George Floyd, is now a shareholder in Disney. Barbara Streisand gifted the 6-year-old with Disney stock, according to Gianna’s Instagram.

The post shows Gianna opening the special package the music icon sent her. Gianna received a letter from Streisand, stock certificates and two albums, according to the photos. “Thank You @barbrastreisand for my package, I am now a Disney Stockholder thanks to you …,” the caption read.

Gianna has more than 52,000 followers on Instagram. Her account is often used to show photos of her late father and to promote justice. George Floyd died last month when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. The officer was fired and charged with murder; three other cops involved in the arrest were also fired and face charges.

Gianna Floyd was caught on camera reacting to the powerful impact her father’s death had on the movement against police brutality. “My daddy changed the world,” she says in the now-viral video.

Many high profile figures have reached out to Gianna and the rest of the Floyd family to help ease the burden they are facing. Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather helped pay for Floyd’s funeral and memorial service. Rapper Kanye West created a 529 college plan for Gianna and Texas Southern University offered the 6-year-old with a full scholarship when she’s college-age.

NFL to recognize Juneteenth holiday; Roger Goodell sends memo to all 32 teams

As the NFL continues in its attempt to correct for past inadequacies in its handling of racial inequities in America, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to each of the league’s 32 teams indicating that the league will for the first time recognize Juneteenth as a holiday and will close its offices in order to “reflect on our past, but more importantly, consider how each one of us can continue to show up and band together to work toward a better future.” Adam Schefter@AdamSchefter

A memo that went to NFL teams today:

View image on Twitter

As the league memo notes, Juneteenth — celebrated each year on June 19 — commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued nearly two and a half years earlier, it was not until June 19, 1865 when all remaining slaves were freed. 

Recognition of the holiday is the latest step in the league’s efforts to change its previous stance on how to handle racial issues. 

Last week, after several teams and the league itself were criticized for participating in #BlackoutTuesday just a few years after reacting so negatively to Colin Kaepernick‘s (among others) attempt to draw attention to the issues of police brutality and systemic racism by kneeling during the national anthem, a group of players (led by Saints receiver Michael Thomasdemanded that the league apologize for both not listening to players who had previously raised those issues and for having silenced players who attempted to raise awareness by peacefully protesting during the national anthem; explicitly condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people; and declare that black lives matter. Within 24 hours, Goodell released a video via the league’s Twitter account in which he stated exactly those things. 

Earlier this week, the league pledged to donate $250 million over the next 10 years to fight systemic racism, and to “reach out” to players who have “raised their voices” on issues of racial inequality. (Notably, Kaepernick was not mentioned in either of the league’s statements.) Goodell stated in the initial video that he protests with the players, and several players (including Adrian Peterson) have made clear in recent weeks that they intend to follow Kaepernick’s lead and kneelduring the national anthem this coming season. 

While several teams issued statements or released videos condemning the recent killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police (and/or the concept of systemic racism in general) and others voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement, their players’ support of the movement, and the nationwide protests that sprang up in the wake of Floyd’s killing, it remains to be seen how team owners will react to the prospect of protests during the national anthem once the actual games start. Four years after Kaepernick first drew such hostility for his protest, the league appears to be softening its stance — or at least is trying to project the image that it has. But the league is still made up of 32 individual teams, each of which has an owner whose own views may not quite be in line with the direction the NFL is increasingly moving on this issue. Steps taken by the league office are a good sign of progress, but as many have noted over the past several weeks, actions taken over the next several years will be a more meaningful indicator of where things stand.

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