Sunday, November 23, 2014

DC's Legendary Former Mayor Marion Barry Passes Away

Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. (March 6, 1936 – November 23, 2014)
Marion Barry was not a perfect man.  He did not profess to be.  He had his faults.  We all do.  But I'm not alone when I say that news of his death today saddened me.

Just last week, his name came up in conversation.  In fact, one of the people I was talking to, thought he had already died.  Whenever his name comes up, the first remark is usually, "Hey, wasn't he the guy who. . .?"

And while he never was able to live down his infamous hotel room "bust," he boomeranged and continued to do more good work for the citizens of the District of Columbia.  He was even re-elected Mayor.

Yes, there were a few "hiccups" in between, but no one can argue that Marion Barry was a man for the people.  Which is why he continued to win public office after a scandal that others, not as great, could not have overcome.

When I think of Marion Barry, I think of the large, imposing, outspoken, no-holds barred husband of the beautiful ex-wife, the late, Effi Barry.  This was in his "heyday."  

Before Barack and Michelle, there was Marion and Effi.  The DC power couple.

And while Barry obviously never reached the oval office, he left his imprint all over DC politics. And he helped a lot of Black folks along the way.

Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.

Rest, in Peace Mr. Barry.  Your good deeds shall speak for you.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dear Black, People, Please See and Support "Dear White People" Movie


"The unexpected election of activist Samantha White (Tessa Thompson) as head of a traditionally black residence hall sets up a college campus culture war that challenges conventional notions of what it means to be black. While Sam leverages her notoriety as host of the provocative and polarizing radio show 'Dear White People' to try to prevent the college from diversifying Armstrong Parker House, outgoing head-of-house Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), son of the university's dean (Dennis Haysbert), defies his father's lofty expectations by applying to join the staff of Pastiche, the college's influential humor magazine. Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams), an Afro-sporting sci-fi geek, is recruited by the otherwise all-white student newspaper to go undercover and write about black culture--a subject he knows little about--while the aggressively assimilated Coco Conners (Teyonah Parris) tries to use the controversy on campus to carve out a career in reality TV. But no one at Winchester University is prepared for Pastiche's outrageous, ill-conceived annual Halloween party, with its 'unleash your inner Negro' theme throwing oil on an already smoldering fire of resentment and misunderstanding. When the party descends into riotous mayhem, everyone must choose a side."

It's been a long time since we had a movie to talk about in the same vein as Spike Lee's early works.  But the indiegogo film, "Dear White People," from Justin Simien has brought it back full circle to Lee's "Do the Right Thing," and "She's Gotta Have It."

I'm not sure if Simien realizes just how much of what's new is old.  

I was reminded after seeing the movie last weekend, that the more things change the more they stay the same.  I invited my daughter to see it with me and she did.  And then I told her to be sure to get on social media (instagram, twitter, Facebook) and tell all her friends, who hadn't seen it, to make sure they do.  Movies like this don't come around often.

And while there is definitely a comedic side to the film, it tackles head-on a very serious subject - racism in the echelons of higher education  - in particular - Ivy League (and other) predominately White colleges.

I hope that it not only encourages dialogue (and keeps it going), but also opens up the eyes of young people to the importance of activism and involvement in our communities.

Don't miss it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

MoAD Presents Jewelle Taylor Gibbs in Conversation with Barbara Rodgers - Sunday, October 26th

Destiny's Child: Memoirs of a Preacher's Daughter delivers a powerful and compelling story about an African American family who survives centuries of racial and social struggles to succeed and achieve upward mobility despite numerous obstacles. Part family history, part memoir, Destiny's Child is a thoroughly researched presentation of author Jewelle Taylor Gibbs's roots, both in terms of her mixed-racial heritage and the other prominent figures that helped her develop her identity over the years. It chronicles more than two hundred years of her paternal family's strides and highlights their contributions to the civil rights movement in the United States, often motivated by such well-known pioneers as Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., and Dorothy Height, who were family friends, role models, and mentors. Gibbs attributes her own success to her family’s legacy and values, which were anchored in religion, education, economic resources, and political activism.

Meet Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, author of "Destiny's Child:  Memoirs of a Preacher's Daughter" in conversation with Barbara Rodgers, Retired KPIX Newscaster/Anchor and currently seen on "The Bronze Report."
Barbara Rodgers

3 to 5 p.m.
Sunday, October 26, 2014

California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA  

(Made possible by the generous support of the National Smart Set, San Francisco Chapter and Dr. Ernest Bates)

$5 for general admission; Free for California Historical Society and MoAD Members

Purchase tickets and RSVP here

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"What's Done In The Dark" by Reshonda Tate Billingsley

"What's Done In The Dark"

Author, Reshonda Tate Billingsley

How many times have you heard someone say, "What's Done In the Dark, Will Surely Come to Light?"

It's one of those clich├ęs that most of us African Americans have heard all our lives.

But, imagine being the one who was caught in the dark and exposed for all to see.

This was my book club's selection this month.  My pick.  And true to Reshonda Tate Billingsley form, she has written another novel that will leave a sister girl with the expression "SMH."

I'm still shaking my head and I finished this book two weeks ago.  

From Reshonda Tate Billingsley:
"Felise is not the kind of woman to cheat on her husband—especially with her best friend’s man. But after one perfect storm of a night, it happened…and she can hardly believe it herself. To top it off, when she woke up in the morning, she found that the man to whom she guiltily made passionate love died of a heart attack overnight. Felise, who is a nurse and a good citizen at that, leaves the hotel room without reporting his death.

When her best friend, Paula, finds out about her husband’s sudden death a day later, Felise is overcome with guilt and grief. She must be there for her friend and her family, but when her husband repeatedly tries to apologize for his absentminded behavior and Paula starts investigating who Stephen was with the night he died, Felise finds it hard to hold herself together. Should she come clean and tell everyone what she did? Or should she just let it go and move past the
mistake on her own?"

This pick certainly evoked a lively discussion among my book club members, along with some mixed feelings about "Should you tell or shouldn't you?"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Heaven Is Just a Bit Jazzier Right Now - Rest In Peace, Joe Sample

Joseph "Joe" Sample 
(February 1, 1939 – 
September 12, 2014)

When I heard the news two nights ago that Joe Sample passed away at age 75, I was at first saddened, then nostalgic and then embarrassed that I had not thought about all the contributions that Joe Sample made not only to the Crusaders ("Street Life" was my jam!) but to music as a whole.

I realized that while, thankfully, I've gotten older, unfortunately, my radio these days is crowded with so much "noise" that I don't spend nearly enough time enjoying real music.

"Creole Joe" as his twitter handle implies was even a zydeco master.  He did it all.  With style.

I won't reiterate his accomplishments here, as the newspapers have done that.  However, I will pass along the announcement his family posted on his Facebook page.

Services for Joe Sample: Friday, September 19, 2014, 6:00pm-9:00pm, wake and viewing open to the general public, My Mother of Mercy Church, 4000 Sumpter St., Houston, TX, 77020. Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, etc., the family asks to make donations to the Joe Sample Youth Organization, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit. Contributions can be made via paypal/credit card using the following link: or via check to the following address: Joe Sample Youth Organization, P.O. Box 590254, Houston, TX 77259.

As for me, I'm heading to the "record shop" this weekend to pick up some of his classics.  Because there's something about the music store experience that online shopping just can't satisfy.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Where Do We Go From Here? Two Weeks After Mike Brown and Ferguson

Suffice to say, that until two weeks ago, I had never heard of Ferguson, Missouri.

I've never even been in the state of Missouri.  I've heard wonderful things about the African American cultural scene in St. Louis in the past, however, now I'm not so sure I want to visit.

Despite the many and varied reports of what really happened two Saturdays ago in Ferguson, Missouri when Michael Brown and his friend encountered Ferguson Police Officer, Darren Wilson, the only things we can be certain of, are the facts revealed in the coroner's report.  Michael Brown was shot six times, twice in the head, after essentially being stopped for, what amounts to a form of "jaywalking."

What we can almost be certain of is that there is likely going to be no jail time for the cop who killed the unarmed 18 year old.  After all, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution and as of this writing, Officer Darren Wilson hasn't even been charged with a crime.  

One thing we do know is that something has to be done.  We have to seriously address the issue of why our young black men are dying (not only by each other's hands) but far too often, at the hands of the law enforcement whose job it is to "protect and serve."

I don't have a son, but if I did, I'd be afraid to let him out of my sight.  And for sure, I'd sit down with him and we'd watch "Fruitvale Station" together.

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't following you.