Return to Transcripts main page

First of All with Victor Blackwell

IDF: Four Israel Hostages Rescued In Gaza Military Operation; The GOP's Muddled Message To Black And Latino Voters; Tim Scott Launches Multimillion Dollar Effort To Get Black And Latino Voters To Support GOP; Black World War II Medic Who Treated Wounded Soldiers On D-Day Awarded Posthumous Medal; Reggaeton Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Moves Forward; Guinness Names Ghana Toddler As The World's Youngest Male Artist. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired June 08, 2024 - 08:00   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to First of All. I'm Victor Blackwell. We're going to start today with the breaking news out of Israel. The IDF says it is rescued four hostages who were taken from the Nova Music Festival on October 7, and one of those freed hostages is Noa Argamani. She was seen being abducted by Hamas and driven away on a motorcycle in the aftermath of the attack. CNN International Correspondent Paula Hancock is in Jerusalem.

Paula, tell us what you know about the operation.

PAULA HANCOCK, CNN CORRESPONDET: Well, Victor, we understand from the Israeli side that this was a joint mission, they say, a very highly complex mission between the IDF. The Israeli military, the ISA, the Security Agency, and the police. They say it happened at 11 o'clock this morning, and it happened in central Gaza, the area of Nuseirat Camp. Now we know from the Israeli side that they say that four Israeli hostages have been released, and as you say. One of those hostages is Noa Argamani, a 25 year old Chinese-Israeli citizen who, as you say, we did see on the back of a motorbike on October 7, being taken away by her mass militants. She was at the nova music festival, potentially one of the better known hostages that that we have been hearing about over the last eight months.

We also know that Andrey Kozlov, 27 year old, Russian Israeli citizen has been rescued as well. He was working security at the Music Festival when he was taken hostage. Shlomi Ziv, 40 year old who was also working security at that that music festival where hundreds were killed on October 7 and Almog Meir Jan, a 21 year old. So the four, according to Israeli officials that we've heard from, are in good medical condition. They have been taken to a medical center to check them over. Let's listen to what the IDF spokesman had to say.


REAR ADMIRAL DANIEL HAGAN, IDF SPOKESMAN: This was a high risk, complex mission based on precise intelligence conducted in daylight in two separate buildings deep inside Gaza. While under fire, under fire inside the buildings, under fire on the way -- on the way out from Gaza, our forces rescued our hostages. Israeli forces have been preparing for this rescue mission for weeks. They are underwent in intensive training. They risked their lives to save the lives of our hostages.


HANCOCK: But we also have to look at what is happening in Gaza devastation left behind after this operation. We hear now from our producer on the ground that at least 55 have been killed in the area that this operation happened. He's at the Alexa martyrs hospital, and hundreds more have been injured. Victor.

BLACKWELL: Paula Hancock, with the reporting from Jerusalem. Paula, thank you.

Let's bring it back now here, stateside and the 2024 race for president now 150 days until Election Day. But the election season, you know, starts far before that.

First of all, this week, Republicans can see the cracks in the Coalition of Black and Latino voters that helped Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in 2020. But it's not clear that they have a seamless strategy to actually win those voters. Senator Tim Scott announced that he's giving it a shot this week. He's launching a multimillion dollar effort to tour battleground states and recruit black and Latino voters for Trump and the GOP. Here's the catch, though, in the announcement.

A source told CNN, the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign are, "aware of the initiative, and they plan to be resources where needed". But this was not a directive from the Trump campaign. So it seems like they know he's doing this, but nobody asked him to do this, and there's no urgency to help him help them. Senator Scott's plan is expected to focus on Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania.


So let's go to Philadelphia this past week in the Trump campaign, they actually hosted a black Americans for Trump event. This one is cognac and cigars, because you know how much we love Hennessy. The Philadelphia Inquirer points out that the first event was in Northeast Philadelphia, one of the whitest and most conservative parts of Philly. Congressman Byron Donalds, was the main speaker, and for the rest of the week, he had to clean up or explain or defend comments he made that day about black families being together during Jim Crow.

Let's talk about this muddled messaging with Michael Harriet. He's a columnist at The Grio and author of The Black AF history, The Un- Whitewashed Story of America. Michael, good to have you.

MICHAEL HARRIOT, AUTHOR, "BLACK AF HISTORY: THE UN-WHITEWASHED STORY OF AMERICA": Thanks for having me. BLACKWELL: So let's start here with why is Tim Scott doing this? And

is he the best, I guess, Ambassador for the GOP to get black and Latino voters. He's expected to get them for Trump in the GOP when he couldn't get them for his own campaign.

HARRIOT: Well, you know, part of the reason Tim Scott is doing this is not like you said, Trump didn't ask him to do it. It's part of like he has some leftover campaign money and he wants to be vice president, so why not use this to buy the vice presidency he's best positioned out of all the candidates like to be the black vice president. So that's part of it. And the other reason is, I mean, let's be honest, right? Like, you don't hear black people talking about, like, let's go to the Tim Scott party, right?

You all want to go right out to the Tim Scott event. But Tim Scott is partially doing this to kind of make amends to his own black constituents and his own black state.

BLACKWELL: Which is also part of what I don't understand because the way Tim Scott speaks about race and racism in the country now, and he says there is no structural racism, there is no institutional racism, is not the way he has always spoken about it. This is Tim Scott in 2016 talking about racism and the scales of justice. Watch this.


SEN. TIM SCOTT, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: So while I thank God I have not endured bodily harm, I have, however, felt the pressure applied by the scales of justice when they are slanted. I have felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness and the humiliation that comes with feeling like you're being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself.


BLACKWELL: That was 2016 and he won on the same ballot as Donald Trump, won reelection in 2022. What happened there?

HARRIOT: Donald Trump happened, right? So I've talked to Tim Scott about this issue about justice in policing. Remember, for years, Tim Scott was trying to push through police reform, the Walter Scott Notification Act for years, but all that went away with Donald Trump, right? Because this current Republican Party is not really a conservative party. It's a party of fealty to one guy, and what that one guy dictates is what you have to do or be on the outs with the entire Republican base. And so Tim Scott has set aside all of that stuff that he's been fighting for, for his own self-preservation, and that is to serve Donald Trump, the Lord and Savior.

BLACKWELL: Here's what Byron Donald said this week about black families and Jim Crow.


REP. BYRON DONALDS, (R) FLORIDA: And so one of the things that's actually happening in our culture, what you're now starting to see in our politics, is the reinvigoration of black families with younger black men and black women, and that is also helping to breathe the revival of a black middle class in America. You see during Jim Crow, during Jim Crow, the black family was together. During Jim Crow, more black people were not just conservative, because black people always have been conservative minded, but more black people voted conservatively. And then HEW, Lyndon Johnson, and then you go down that road, and now we are where we are.


BLACKWELL: Now he could have made that point without invoking Jim Crow. Why the framework of American apartheid around families and families staying together?

HARRIOT: Well, first of all, like you said, like, I don't even know why he spent the rest of the week defending stuff that he brought up, but I think that he was dog whistling to a particular part of his base, right? Not the black men, but there is a segment of black men who wish that they could return to the days when women didn't have all of the rights. That's one of the parts of that that we don't talk about, that he's kind of dog whistling to like after the Civil Rights Act, women also got rights, and that is why marriage rates in every race decline because they could have bank accounts. They could get jobs, and that's one of the things that he was dog whistling to.

But the other thing is that he was dog whistling to part of his constituency, because at those events, mostly white, and at those events, like those constituents who are gathered there, they also are want to return to that Jim Crow time. That's the place that they want to return. That's what they're talking about when they say, Make America Great Again. And that was also a nod to those people.


BLACKWELL: Michael Harriot, thank you for helping us understand this outreach to Black and Latino voters. Thanks so much for being with us.

$130 billion that's a lot of money, according to the fearless fund, that's venture capital funding raised by the U.S. companies in 2018 and the firm says that when they found out that only 2% of that financing went to companies founded by women and less than 1% went to companies started by women of color, it became their mission to close that gap with a grant program for black women entrepreneurs. But their work is now on hold after a new federal appeals court ruling. Fearless fund was sued on behalf of a group called the American Alliance for equal rights. They argue the program violates the law, and they say programs that exclude certain individuals because of their race, such as the ones the fearless fund has designed and implemented are unjust and polarizing.

Now the AAER is led by Edward Blum. Now he's not a household name, but I'm sure you know the fruits of his work recently. He's a legal strategist whose Supreme Court case dismantled affirmative action in college admissions. Blum is not trying to hide his continuing crusade. This headline, conservative activist who took down affirmative action is now going after law firms diversity programs is featured on his group's website. His group is also going after a Southwest Airlines travel award program for Hispanic students. The Smithsonian's Institute, a National Museum of American Latino in March, Blum touted a settlement that promised the museum's internship will now be open to all ethnicities. But not just Blum has taken up this cause.

Since the affirmative action ruling conservative groups like his have targeted a range of programs from those studying reparations to a program meant to help pregnant women of color. Now, with that context, let's bring in now Arian Simone. She is the CEO and founding partner of Fearless Fund.

Thank you for being with me this this morning. Let me start here with, I think it's a probably a pedestrian question, but I want to let you run a little bit with it. Why socially, why culturally, are these efforts successful, and why the Fearless Fund?

ARIAN SIMONE, CEO AND FOUNDING PARTNER, FEARLESS FUND: I can't exactly tell you why the fearless fund, but what I can share is the impact that we have had. Prior to the Fearless Fund being in existence, black women had an average fundraise of $30,000.

When the Fearless Fund was founded and came on the scene, we were cutting seven figure checks to black and brown women. Our thesis is that a women of color co-founder must be on the founding team, and that is the impact that we have had. We've raised somewhere over $60 million. We've deployed investments at our investment vehicle. And at our foundation, we have deployed grants as well as held education programs.

I can't exactly say why we were targeted, but we -- this is the impact that we have, and maybe some view it as a threat.

BLACKWELL: So among your list of investors, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, MasterCard, Ally, PayPal, does this ruling jeopardize that support that you then pass on to the women you award these grants?

SIMONE: Well, there's two things going on. There's our foundation, that's where grant programs are held, and there is our fund, which is our investment vehicle. Since the lawsuit, I can say that we have not had a closing on the fun side, where we raise capital in order to invest in women of color. Since the lawsuit, we have had some corporate partners step up on the foundation side to continue those programs. But on the fun side, we have not had a closing since the litigation has taken place.

BLACKWELL: So there was a study from Goldman Sachs in 2020 that black business owners say that they were denied bank funding at a rate three times that of what we heard from or they heard from white business owners. What does this ruling practically mean for black women, invest -- entrepreneurs and maybe other organizations that like yours, target investment in this community that is at the front of the line when it comes to starting new businesses in this country.


SIMONE: It is very concerning. We only exist due to the racial disparities that exist. As you stated just recently, that there have been many times where people of color and black women and black people have been denied funding and financing. There is no reason why black women are the most founded entrepreneur demographic while receiving the least of the funding that takes place. There's no reason for that at all.

These programs are at stake, and they're at stake because this is a precedent case. This is being used as a benchmark, a way to establish case law for what is either violating the law or accepted by the law. So yes, this is definitely very concerning, and I hope everybody is taking note.

BLACKWELL: Arian Simone, CEO and cofounder of the Fearless Fund. Thank you so much for your time this morning.

SIMONE: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Well, he murdered a Black Lives Matter protester in 2020 but Daniel Perry is now out of prison thanks to a pardon from the governor of Texas. We'll speak to the district attorney, who is now fighting to undo that, and the mother fighting for justice for her son, Garrett Foster. Plus, a D-Day medic whose heroism went unrecognized for decades because he was black. We will show you the emotional Tribute to Corporal Waverly Woodson, Jr. 80 years later.



BLACKWELL: A district attorney in Texas is challenging the pardon of a man who murdered a Black Lives Matter protester. Daniel Perry was released from prison last month after the pardon from Governor Greg Abbott. Now a jury convicted Perry of murdering Garrett foster at a Black Lives Matter rally in 2020. Foster was the fiance of Whitney Mitchell. Now Whitney is a quadruple amputee, and said that Foster had been her sole caretaker for more than a decade.

She was at the press conference this week with Garrett Foster's mother, Sheila Foster, where this challenge to the pardon was announced. Now here's how Daniel Perry's attorney is responding.


CLINT BRODEN, DANIEL PERRY'S ATTORNEY: Jose Garza is making a mockery of the laws of Texas, and this that the state constitution, which give Governor Abbott this power.


BLACKWELL: Well, Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza is with us now, alongside Sheila Foster, Garrett Foster's mother. Thank you both for being with me. And let me start here with you, D.A. Garza. Texas Constitution, I'll read just a section of it. The governor shall have power, on the written sign, recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, the majority thereof to grant reprieves, commutations of punishments and pardons. Why is Perry's attorney wrong?

JOSE GARZA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, TRAVIS COUNTY: Well, the governor's power to issue a pardon is not unlimited, and that's because the governor is not a king. He's not a monarch. He still has to operate inside of our democracy. And inside our democracy there are rules, there are laws that govern how pardons can be issued and what steps need to be taken before a pardon can be issued. In this instance, those laws were clearly violated.

But Texas also has if defense counsel would read a little further in the Constitution, he would also see that the Texas Constitution had one of the strongest separation of powers clauses in the country, and as a result of that, it prohibits the governor from interfering in the role of the judiciary, which is exactly what he's done in this case. This pardon makes a mockery of our justice system. It has inserted politics above the law and above justice, and we intend to continue to fight to uphold this conviction for Garrett and for his family.

BLACKWELL: Ms. Foster to you, you have spoken about not just what this pardon means for you, your family, your son, but what this means potentially for other governors for other offenders the legal system?

SHEILA FOSTER, MOTHER OF GARRETT FOSTER: It sets a precedent, it sends the wrong message. It allows people to copycat what he did. And how would everybody feel if that had been a Trump rally? Would he be pardoning this man, if that had been a Trump rally?

BLACKWELL: D.A. Garza, you say that this interferes with the judicial system. If that is the threshold -- let me just give you some room here to explain that. How does it interfere? I mean, the governor has the power after conviction on advice from the pardon and Paroles board that happened here. Where did he interfere?

GARZA: Let's talk about this from a couple of different perspective. First of all, this pardon is wholly unprecedented in many ways. The request for a pardon was issued less than 24 hours after the jury verdict, and the pardon itself was granted after the appellate, I'm sorry, before the appellate process even began. It is the first time in the history of the state of Texas that a governor has pardoned someone before the appellate process has run its course.


But the other piece of this is that the rules are clear that in order for a pardon to be granted, in case defendant is asserting actual innocence that the defendant has to either provide evidence from the district court or provide written letters from three from two of the trial officials. And in this case, none of that happened, because all of this is political. Let's remember that the governor called for this pardon after being bullied by Tucker Carlson and other right wing voices on conservative media. And so no one should be surprised that they circumvented all of the rules and all of the normal legal process to get to this political outcome.

Certainly, the power of pardon is a strong one, but it is not an unlimited power, and it should be insulated from politics. That's not the case here.

BLACKWELL: Sheila, having spoken with several parents in your position after losing a child, the conviction of the person who murdered that child is part of the healing, not closure. I don't think there's ever closure, but healing. How has this period since the pardon been for you?

FOSTER: I've been sick ever since the Governor announced his plans to pardon. I haven't been able to return to work because I am so sick because of the stress. We waited nearly three years for a trial, and when we finally got a guilty verdict, I was able to sleep fully for the whole night for the first time since my son's death. And then 18 hours after the jury verdict, the Governor announced his plans to pardon, it has wreaked havoc on my health. And now that he's done it, I don't function normally anymore. I'm just, I'm honestly terrified.

BLACKWELL: How is Whitney doing?

FOSTER: Because I know -- same. I saw her last week and visited with her, and she is struggling. This is not right. There's nothing about this that is fair. There was nothing wrong done in that trial, and they are just using this for political pandering.

BLACKWELL: I should also say the documents show the Perry texted in May of 2020, "I might go to Dallas to shoot looters." He also shared racist messages, including white power memes as well. Now there are 14 attorneys general who are asking the Department of Justice to look into this, to see if there have been federal laws broken. Sheila Foster, District Attorney Jose Garza. I thank you both for the conversation, and we, of course, will continue to follow this to see what happens next.

FOSTER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: A black D-Day hero and his unit are finally getting the recognition their bravery deserves. We'll speak to the son of an Army medic who treated the wounded on Omaha Beach and is being honored now 80 years later.



BLACKWELL: This week in June, is an annual chance to remember the heroes that put their lives on the line for democracy on D-Day, even those who could not participate in that democracy fully themselves.

One of those heroes was Corporal Waverly Woodson Jr. He was an Army medic part of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the all black unit, landed on Omaha Beach June 6, 1944 and 80 years after spending hours treating wounded soldiers as he was injured himself, Corporal Woodson was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. That's the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the army.

And on Friday, the U.S. Army, the First Army, honored Woodson and his medal. The Associated Press took these photos of the ceremony, and they described the medal being laid there on the sand and soldiers saluting it.

The AP described the medal being passed around among the soldiers delicately, and it was explained that we want to be able to say that this medal came from Omaha Beach and was at the site of Woodson's actions. Corporal Woodson's son Stephen is here. Also with us is Shianne Brown. She chronicled the stories of heroes like Stephen's dad in a new documentary -- a docu series in fact, called "Erased: WW2's Heroes of Color." Welcome to you both.

And Steven, let me start with you, because I understand there was a reporter from the AP who described to you over the phone what that ceremony was and what they did, and as you heard it, what did you feel?

STEPHEN WOODSON, SON OF ARMY MEDIC CPL. WAVERLY WOODSON, JR.: I was overwhelmed with emotion, Victor. It was extremely well done. I actually did get to see portions of the video, and it was just truly unbelievable and well honored.


BLACKWELL: What does this mean for your family, for your 95-year old mother? What does this honor now mean?

WOODSON: It's a tremendous honor to our family. You know, we've been in pursuit for recognition for not only my dad, but just African American soldiers who participated in D-Day invasion the 320th and by receiving this honor, it's just a little bit more of closure of recognition for all African American soldiers that participated in D- Day. My dad's heroism was outstanding, but it's a true honor to our family.

BLACKWELL: And Cheyenne, do we know how many now black service members participated on that day in 1944?

SHIANNE BROWN, DIRECTOR, "ERASED: WW2's HEORES OF COLOR": So with the 320th, there were over 1000 African American troops as a part of that Barrage Balloon Battalion. And you know, as well as the 320th, who were the only black combat unit to land on the beaches of D-Day, there were also a lot of labor troops.

And so within our documentary series, we look at, you know, combat units, as well as you know, people who would have been service troops at the time. So yes, there's -- we're still discovering stories, and yes, it's just it's been an amazing journey to be a part of.

BLACKWELL: According to the Army, more than a million black people served during World War II. We know why they weren't recognized 80 years ago or even 5040 years ago, but why are they so under recognized today, Shianne?

BROWN: Well, that's a tough question, but I think there's a way of rewriting history. And you know what we mentioned in my film is that there are plenty of history books, films, documentaries, which often leave out the black experience in World War II, but what we know is it was World War there were over 8 million people of color who served in World War II, and I think those stories need to be recognized.

And it's taken so long because I think, you know, it's hidden history, and I think it's incredibly empowering and brave what these men and women do and had done.

So, I think it's who writes the history, what historians know, what archivists know. And another thing is, a lot of the times, black troops weren't photographed and they weren't recorded. But in my film, you see black troops on in Kettering, in Middle England. So we managed to discover that footage, but it was really -- it's quite difficult to find a large array of photographs and footage.

BLACKWELL: Stephen, I understand that your family is now calling for your father to be honored with the Medal of Honor.

WOODSON: Yes, matter of fact, we've been in pursuit for this or with this for a number of years. My mom has really carried the torch for the majority of the time. And with her being 95 now, she's doing great, but she has asked me to step up and take her place in pursuit of my dad's recognition. So everything's going along fine. Senator Chris Van Hollen from State of Maryland has been really instrumental in attempting to get recognition to him.

BLACKWELL: Well, I hope you are successful. Stephen Woodson, thank you for your time. Shianne Brown, thank you as well.

The D-Day episode of "Erased: WW2's Heroes of Color" is streaming now. All right, coming up. We all recognize the reggaeton beat when we hear right. But could a lawsuit over its origin bring down the entire genre? We'll ask an expert.



BLACKWELL: So you hear that reggaeton beat. I mean, it is, it's undeniable. As soon as you hear it, you know, your shoulders start moving, right? So, one of the top streamed artists on Earth right now is Bad Bunny. A lot of the country first heard reggaeton with Daddy Yankee smash hit Gasolina. But, now more than 100 artists, including Bad Bunny and Daddy Yankee, are being sued for copyright infringement.

The claim is that they are reggaeton songs derived from an instrumental by Jamaican duo Cleveland Clevie Brown and Wycliffe Steely Johnson called Fish Market from 1989. Listen to this.

So you hear that beat. It's the beat you hear a lot in the genre. See, even just saying it case my shoulders moving. There were recent motions to dismiss this lawsuit, but a judge is allowing it now to move forward.


Wayne Marshall is here. He's an ethnomusicologist at Berklee College of Music and co-editor of the book "Reggaeton." Wayne, good to see you. So this beat, this demo beat is everywhere. How foundational is it to the genre of reggaeton?

WAYNE MARSHALL, ETHNOMUSICOLOGIST, BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC: Oh, I mean, that basic beat is absolutely foundational to reggaeton. A lot of people would say without that beat, that rhythm, it's not reggaeton, and you can find that beat propelling most reggaeton songs.

BLACKWELL: So this judge has now not determined whether the beat pattern is original work or warranted copyright protection. You study this, does it first appear in Fish Market in 1989 or has it been around forever?

MARSHALL: Well, yes, that's a great question, and perhaps a crucial question, and one that will start to come out as the trial proceeds. And it really depends on how you define it. You know, obviously Steely and Clevie are making the argument that they brought this rhythm into shape and in an original and protectable way back then.

But it really is a question that basic beat that we hear all the time in reggaeton, and that really defined the sound of dancehall reggae in the late 80s and early 90s, on the other hand, could be heard as a far, far older and more traditional rhythm. You know, these days, we call it Dembo. Pointing back to a dancehall reggae record by Shabba ranks called Dem Bow.

But 100 years ago, you would have heard somebody referring to that basic rhythm as the habanero, because it was so closely linked to Havana. And in various other moments in time, it's been known as the tango. That's where Tango gets its name. It's been known as bambula.

According to Robert Farris Thompson, the great chronicler of Afro diasporic culture, in his work on tango, he notes that back in Congo, it was known as mbila a makinu, the call to dance. And so it's also not wrong for you to respond that way. And apparently people have been responding that way to that rhythm for a very long time.

BLACKWLEL: One of the more than 100 artists who have been sued is, as I mentioned, Bad Bunny. His album in 2023 was the most streamed album on Spotify, 4.5 billion streams. What does this lawsuit mean in this moment of massive growth for reggaeton?

MARSHALL: Right. Yes, I mean, as you note, reggaeton has been a massive growth sector in the music industry in general. Bad Bunny has been on top of the world more or less for several years. We had the story of Despacito back in 2017 making a record run up the, you know, Anglo pop charts.

So there's a lot of money. There's a lot of money in reggaeton. And I think, you know, that's part of the backdrop here, is that, you know, Jamaican musical style has been a part of the global mainstream for quite a while, and it has sort of defined the global mainstream through reggaeton for the last, you know, possibly 20 years, certainly the last decade or so.

And I think, you know, you've got a lot of Jamaican producers and artists looking around and seeing a lot of people who are not Jamaican exploiting beats that they think really are from Jamaica, and they're wondering, you know, why they've been left out.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And that is certainly kind of the undertone of this now is reclaiming the origin of some of this music as so many around the world are profiting from it.

Wayne Marshall, ethnomusicologist, my first one on the show. Thank you for being with me this morning, talking about reggaeton.

So he has art for sale, paintings appearing at exhibitions, a piece commissioned by the First Lady of Ghana. And he's not even two years old yet. Meet the toddler who Guinness World Records just named the youngest male painter in the world. In Art is Life.



BLACKWELL: Little something different for artist life, Ace-Liam, he is a painter to watch. He's finding success selling his artwork. He's showing his paintings at an exhibition with top artists in Ghana and doing interviews with international reporters. Not bad for someone who, in July, will be two years old.

I met Ace-Liam and his mom after Guinness World Records named him the Youngest Male Painter in the World.


CHANTELLE KUUKUA EGHAN, VISUAL ARTIST AND ACE-LIAM'S MOM: My name is Chantelle Kuukua Eghan. I'm a visual artist. I am from Accra, Ghana. I am the mom of Ace-Liam, the current Guinness World Record holder as the youngest male artist in the world.

He actually started painting at the age of six months, and I wanted to keep him busy while I also painted, so I just put some on straight canvas on the floor, gave him some paint. It was when he turned 11 months. That was when I introduced him to the traditional canvas and easel, brush and palette setup.

But in my head, I thought I was going to now teach him how to do this. Immediately I put the setup in front of him. He took the brush, dipped it in the pink, and started painting. So I just took out my phone, and I'm like, this is an old soul who already knows what to do. I just have to be a participant. And make sure that I'm opening the bottles for him, because he couldn't do that.


As we speak, he has about 50 pages, and so far, he has participated in just one art exhibition. Was a group art exhibition called Sound Out at the Museum of Science and Technology, people like the First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, she's commissioned a piece and some collectors around the world. For me, I'm very proud of him, because having a child who is just a

year old, having such big recognition from just Guinness, the whole world recognizes him as a professional artist.


BLACKWELL: Now, OK, the black one, the two canvases side by side. That's my favorite. That is my favorite. So Ace-Liam is going to be part of another exhibition coming up next week. For more information, check out his Instagram page. It's run by his mother, Ace underscore Liam underscore paints.

Thank you for joining me today and every Saturday at eight for First of All, stay with us. We'll be back for a special hour of CNN Newsroom after a short break.