From the dating rumors to their recent breakup.
Ke’Shon Newman was 6 years old the first time he had to run from a shootout. “I was in first grade,” he remembered, sitting on the bench of a Chicago park not far from John W. Cook Elementary School. “I was living in a neighborhood that you got to get in at a certain time because they shoot around there. I had to duck down and run inside my house, because they were shooting not too far away and you could actually hear how loud the gunshots were.” Auburn Gresham, where Newman currently lives, was named the fourth most dangerous neighborhood in the country five years ago, according to the Chicagoist.
On March 17, 15-year-old Newman, along with two dozen students from Chicago and Parkland, Florida, held a press conference at Chicago’s Saint Sabina Church in front of a handful of local camera crews. They’ve joined to address an issue that ties them tightly together: gun violence. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago had 3,457 shooting victims in 2017—246 of these victims were under 18. Since Columbine in 1999, there have been at least 129 school shooting deaths, per the Washington Post.
A gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14 and killed 17 people. Emma Gonzalez, 18, survived the shooting and traveled to Chicago to speak at the press conference as part of her crusade against gun violence. Gonzalez’s shaved head and fiery criticism of the government and NRA have made her the most recognizable figure from Parkland. During an anti-gun rally in Florida shortly after the shooting, Gonzalez established a catchphrase for the movement: “We call B.S.” Leaning into her rising status as an activist, she’s spearheading March For Our Lives, a student-organized event that, at the time of this writing, has spawned 838 planned marches worldwide. It’s all set to take place on March 24, with a march on Washington, D.C. billed as the main event. Celebrities including Oprah, George Clooney, and Steven Spielberg have all donated to the cause.
In a student-led conversation held after the press conference, Gonzalez told Complex that the deaths in Parkland have opened her eyes to Chicago’s deep cycle of violence.
“There's so much more loss here,” Gonzalez said. “And it was spread over such a large period of time. … We might have differences, but we have something in common. And it's a really, really big thing.”
Newman spoke alongside Gonzalez at the press conference and will attend the Washington, D.C. march she organized. He became involved with the Parkland-Chicago alliance through BRAVE, a Chicago violence prevention youth council that establishes social justice leadership skills and assembles protests against gun use. Newman has a close connection to BRAVE’s cause: His 16-year-old brother Randell Young was killed in spring 2016.
“He left one night to take his girlfriend to the bus stop so she can get home safe,” Newman explained. “And as he was coming back, he seen his friend. So he had went over towards them and talked, and then as they started to leave, there was a shootout down the block. I guess he was in front of them all, so he got caught in the crossfire and got shot. The man came up to him afterward to make sure he was dead and shot him twice inside the head. So he was shot 9 times that day.”
Newman says the loss and pain he’s experienced led him to be more hands-on in guiding his city and his neighborhood toward a safer era. “I just don't want to lose no one else,” he said. “So whatever I can do or anybody else can do, I suggest that they do that. Because a small difference can make a big impact.”
Newman is determined to spark a change with the students he took a stand with at the Saint Sabina press conference—students like Emma Gonzalez, who isn't afraid of a challenge, but acknowledges the skepticism that goes hand-in-hand with a youth-led movement.
“The reason that people think this way is because adults and messages by the conservative individuals at the top who dislike listening to the younger generation—those people have been trying to disenfranchise kids,” Gonzalez said.
“They've been trying to take away their messages and trying to squish them down and say, ‘Tell them your vote doesn't matter, because you could never amount to anything. Because you could never say anything that would matter because you won't know anything until you go through college, until you have a house, until you buy a car with your own money and you work hard for this.’ We are working hard. We're making a march happen.”
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Until LeBron James declares where he's going after this season, the recruiting efforts aren't going to end. In fact, they're just going to ratchet the hell up.
The most recent development in that department was none other than a digital billboard that went up in James' hometown of Akron, imploring him that “There's no place like home.” Since Akron doesn't have an NBA franchise, one would think that it was an effort to get him to stay with the Cavs, especially since Ohio was on the sign. On Friday, James spoke about the new(est) pitch trying to influence where he ends up by saying that stuff like that doesn't affect him because he's been dealing with it since high school.
“I haven't seen it,” James said according to ESPN. “But, like I said before, it's very flattering. It's just, I don't know, it's very humbling. I know my hometown, so, I already know there's no place like Akron, that's for sure. Me just having everything I've done with that city, obviously, but just being a part of that city my whole life … it's just very flattering.”
“It's not that I ignore it,” he added. “I mean, I see it, but I know what's important. I've always been able to keep the main thing the main thing. I see pretty much everything. I have not seen that billboard just yet, but I will. I see and I hear pretty much everything, but I know what's important. I know what keeps me focused. I know what the job is at hand, and that's just how I've always been. It's been like that my whole life.
“I heard talks of me being able to go straight to the NBA and being the No. 1 pick after my junior year in high school. I heard that, but it didn't affect me. There was talks of me leaving St. Vincent-St. Mary and going to Oak Hill [Academy]. There could've been a billboard back then. But it was like, 'No, I'm not doing that. I understand what's important now. What's important now is finishing the school year up and see what happens after the season.' I've always been that way. When I was a kid, I've always just tackled the main thing at the present time and worried about the future when it's upon me.”
As relayed by ESPN, the Akron Boards (as nobody calls them) are just the latest billboards trying to steer LeBron to a specific NBA franchise by placing a message in a location he'd only see if he was driving his car down a very particular road. They come after similar billboards were posted in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and probably some other places wondering what they got to do to get some media attention.
The Akron signs were put up by Alison McIntyre Baranek of Stouffer Realty (that's a good plug for her business) and are described in the following manner by ESPN:
Baranek's billboards feature basketball sneakers done up to look like Dorothy's ruby slippers, and the “O” in “home” is an outline of the state of Ohio with James' No. 23 jersey printed in the middle.
ESPN reports that another digital billboard is set to go up next week nearer to LeBron's home in Bath, Ohio.
However, until the season's over, it sounds as if you won't squeeze jack out of LeBron.
“I don't know if this is even the right time to talk about that,” he said. “Obviously I will attack that after the season. As I stated before, my only focus right now is how we continue to improve the ballclub and put us in the right possible position to compete for a championship.”
Two billboards, though. Damn. Other teams, time to pack it in.
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If you’re inspired by Parkland or want to learn more about social justice, these films are the syllabus to your awakening.
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Sorry, Jean-Claude Van Damme. We’ve moved on.
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On this episode, Tony and Justin ditch the office for a trip to Jacksonville Florida and take the Budweiser brewery tour. Later, they catch up with Houston Astros World Series MVP George Springer in West Palm Beach at a special Spring Training event.
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Amid all of the box office success and praise for Marvel's Black Panther, rapper Lupe Fiasco took to Instagram to share he was slightly less impressed than the rest of us. While he didn't exactly disparage the film, he wasn't as enthused as most other people have been about it, prompting some media outlets to label him as a hater. Now, the rapper has his own words about the pushback.
“Look at the comments for the article that you put up, and this is Blavity and The Grio,” the rapper said on Instagram Live. “Nobody fucking agreed with you,” he added, reiterating that many across social media didn't take to their summaries. He would go on to say that besides his controversial comment claiming former president Barack Obama is a terrorist, nobody cares about his opinion on politics. The Grio posted about Lupe's Black Panther comments with a decidedly critical headline, “Watching Lupe Fiasco trash ‘Black Panther’ proves his cookout invite is revoked,” while Blavity referred to his opinion as unpopular in theirs. This criticism prompted him to also take to Twitter to respond. “Explain to us the correlation between giving BP an A- & failing black as a whole,” he tweeted at a writer for The Grio. Additionally, he called Blavity's take “malicious.”
In his original comments, Fiasco suggested that viewers may be watching the film mainly with cultural impact in mind, and not so much for its artistic merit. Though he mentioned the acting in the movie was decent, he was a bit let down. Ultimately, he gave the film an A-, saying it fell just short of outstanding. Fiasco has never been one to back down from having a differing opinion but made it clear in his original critique that he still liked the film, even acknowledging its importance as a cultural product.
With or without Lupe's feedback, Black Panther still might cross the threshold to become the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time.
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