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President Obama made history on Wednesday by issuing the largest amount of commutations the nation has ever seen in a single day. He commuted the sentences of 214 federal inmates, many of whom were behind bars for low-level drug offenses. President Obama used these commutations as an avenue to directly combat lengthy minimum sentences. Some of the individuals who had their sentences shortened have been behind bars for decades. “The more we understand the human stories behind this problem, the sooner we can start making real changes that keep our streets safe, break the cycle of incarceration in this country, and save taxpayers like you money,” wrote President Obama in a Facebook post. Nearly 35 of the inmates who received commutations will remain in prison for at least another two years. Prior to President Obama, former President Franklin D. Roosevelt held the record for the most commutations in a day, when he issued 151 for those facing charges related to immigration back in 1935. President Obama has issued more commutations during his tenure than the last nine presidents combined. “Our work is far from finished,” said White House counsel Neil Eggleston. “I expect the president will continue to grant clemency in a historic and inspiring fashion.” Read more.


Ava DuVernay Becomes First Black Woman To Direct A $100M Film

Ava DuVernay has made history as the first African-American woman to direct a $100 million film. Her upcoming film, A Wrinkle in Time, made a list of big-budget movies with California tax inducements. Prior to DuVernay, Kathryn Bigelow—who directed K-19: The Widowmaker—and Patty Jenkins—who directed Wonder Woman—were recognized for spearheading large-budget films, but DuVernay is the first Black woman to do so. She took to Twitter to share her excitement. “Not the first capable of doing so. Not by a long shot. Thanks to @DisneyStudios for breaking this glass with me,” she posted. She also used her accomplishment to shine a light on the lack of diversity in the film industry. “A shame. Hollywood and audiences have missed some wonderful voices. High hopes for change,” she tweeted. DuVernay was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for her pivotal project Selma in 2014. Her television series, Queen Sugar, will return to the OWN network for another season. Read more.


Mom Creates Black Culture-Themed School Supplies

Nneka, a 27-year-old Black single mom, has put a new spin on school supplies through her venture, Innovative Supplies. She designed a collection of notebooks and apparel that illustrate parts of African-American history and culture. Many of the images featured were created by Black artists. Some of the items include a drawing of rapper Tupac wearing a shirt that reads “I Am Sandra Bland,” a Beyoncé collage notebook, and a notebook that depicts an image of a Black girl with natural hair donning a shirt that says “Be Unique.” “I am about making a positive change in my community. This is one step towards that,” said Nneka in a statement on her website. “I want to use this platform and this site as way to reach out to the millennials who want variety, and who want to be a part of a bigger cause.” She’s also found ways to make her business charitable. Her website states that 40 percent of all proceeds goes to local organizations and she plans on hiring minority youth. Read more.


Documentary About Fashion Designer Karl Kani In The Works

A new documentary will delve into the journey of notable fashion designer Karl Kani. The film, titled Karl Kani: The Originator, will focus on his career in the fashion industry and examine how hip-hop and fashion have become intertwined. Kani is often recognized for bridging the gap. He joined forces with Sue Vannasing to create the film. “I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to visually bring the Karl Kani story to life. Karl has made an enormous contribution to not only the “urban” fashion industry, but also the fashion industry as a whole. Many do not know his full story or the challenges he’s faced. The inspiration and motivation this documentary will deliver is unparalleled,” said Vannasing in a statement. Darryll C. Scott and Luc-Richard Elie will serve as producers alongside Vannasing. The project is being created under her company Dream Cloud Productions. Karl Kani will executive produce the film. There is no word on when it will be released. Read more.


Documentary About Destiny’s Child Completes Filming

A documentary that focuses on Destiny’s Child’s growth in the music industry has officially completed filming. The film, titled A Child of Destiny, is centered on the life of the late Andretta Tillman, who was instrumental in the group’s success. While trying to get Destiny’s Child into the industry, Tillman was confronted with personal issues. She had an ongoing struggle with Lupus. The film was created by Dousic Film & Television, The Andretta Tillman Estate, and Tillman Management Group. “We sought to give full credit and a voice to the people who were the true champions in launching Beyoncé Knowles and Destiny’s Child careers, those who sacrificed some, and those who sacrificed all,” said head of original programming and production at Dousic Media Group, Michael Ferguson. “Our goal was to focus on the extreme behind the scenes reality of what actually happened with the creation of Destiny’s Child and this incredible woman, instead reflecting a one-dimensional point-of-view. Offering a different perspective on the reality of the origin of Destiny’s Child, while showcasing Andretta’s personal struggles and the impact that her death had on her family, friends and the artists she managed,” said director Gigi Githoro. The film is slated to be released in 2016. Read more.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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