March Madness has kicked off with all the pressure and excitement that the “rise and fly” “do or die” nature of the college basketball tournament brings. There have already been major surprises—like the Lady Bison of Howard University clenching their first tournament win—and mind blowing upsets—like St. Peters knocking out the number two seeded Kentucky. Tournament season is a reminder to never dismiss an underdog and, no matter how rough the going looks, never count yourself out.

In news this week, Jussie Smollett was released from jail pending his appeal, friends of Daniel Kaluuya were worried about his well-being, a Black person won architecture’s top prize for the first time, Spike Lee made history as a director, and we said farewell to some beloved—and young—stars. Also, with the wow moment we never could’ve guessed, Tracey Edmonds rebooted College Hill on BET…with Ray J and Nene Leakes.


-Billy and the team at BLAC

Best of the Rest is a roundup of things you may not have known that you needed to know. Yet here we are. To get the Best of the Rest in your inbox every Friday. Subscribe to BLAC Friday’s. Your inbox will thank you. 

THE BEST OF REST for March 18, 2022

Farewell too soon: Traci Braxton and Mike Mora

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of Traci Braxton and Mike Mora who both died this past weekend after brief battles with cancer. Traci was the third eldest of the famous Braxton singing clan that includes sisters Toni, Towanda, Trina, Tamar, and one brother, Michael. For seven seasons, the sisters and their mother Evelyn starred in one of WeTV’s biggest shows, Braxton Family Values. Cameras followed Traci as she fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a professional recording artist, hosting her own radio show, and reveling in the joy of becoming a grandmother. She died at age 50 after a private battle with esophageal cancer.

Mike Mora was a celebrated photographer, best known to the world as the husband of singer and chef Kelis Rogers, with whom he shared a semi-private life on a farm just outside of Los Angeles. They were married in 2014, and shared two biological children together, along with Roger’s son from a previous marriage to rapper Nas. Mora died after a short battle with stomach cancer. He was 37 years old. (New York Times, Essence)

Ralph Lauren unveils the Morehouse and Spelman Capsule Collection

In keeping with the promises Ralph Lauren made during the summer of 2020, the brand has partnered with Morehouse and Spelman colleges to create a capsule collection that displays Lauren’s “Ivy style” from a new perspective. Releasing on March 29th, the entire collection is Black-led and features only Black people in its campaign images. Further, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation is continuing its pledge to provide $2 million in scholarships to students at 10 historically Black colleges and universities across the country—including Morehouse and Spelman. (Vogue)

Black excellence in architecture

For the first time in its 43-year history, the Pritzker Architecture Prize was awarded to a Black person. Already highly decorated for his accomplishments in the field, Diébédo Francis Kéré delight was palpable when speaking to NPR. “Can you imagine?” he exclaimed. “I was born in Burkina Faso, in this little village where there was no school. And my father wanted me to learn how to read and write very simply because then I could then translate or read him his letters.” Kéré’s designs are notable for their beauty, sustainability, and construction that reduces the need for air conditioning. He told NPR that one of his goals is to make buildings, particularly schools, that feel like an oasis. “I am creating a huge canopy for many, many children, to be happy and learn how to read and write.” (NPR)

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Spike Lee receives prestigious Director’s Guild Award

The Director’s Guild of America is recognizing Spike Lee with its highest honor: the Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction. He is the first Black director to receive the distinction, joining luminaries such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Alfred Hitchcock. (CNN)

Jussie Smollett released from jail pending appeal

After serving 6 days of a 150 day jail sentence, Jussie Smollett was released from custody on the grounds that, were his sentence actually reversed during appeal, he would likely have served the entire sentence before any ruling came forth. His defense attorneys also argued that COVID-19 is a serious risk because Smollett has a health condition that makes him immunocompromised. The court granted his attorneys’ motion, agreeing that it would be “unable to dispose of the instant appeal before the defendant would have served his entire sentence of incarceration.” (Deadline)

Cause for concern for Daniel Kaluuya?

Page Six reported that people with ties to Academy Award winner Daniel Kaluuya are concerned about his relationship with a so-called spiritual guru named Heir Holiness. On a now deleted LinkedIn page, she called herself his personal manager and has accompanied Kaluuya on the set of his latest film, Nope, from writer-producer-director Jordan Peele. The Post reported, “People on the Nope set were very concerned that Heir had ‘taken over’ Kaluuya’s life and all decisions had to go through her.” After beginning his work with the advisor, he fired his powerful management team from Creative Artists Agency, an organization that also reps A-list stars including Zendaya and Ava DuVernay. (Page Six, Atlanta Black Star)

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