Like many who travel to Cuba my initial visit in 2015 was based simply as intrigue. I wanted to see the country for myself. I knew very little of the people and the culture. Prior to that first visit I had to absorb myself with whatever knowledge I could find. About a week before my trip I popped into Eso Won bookstore in Leimert Park. They happened to have two recent books on Cuba so I grabbed both. Unfortunately, I was not able to read them until I returned.
Race in Cuba
Once I read “Race in Cuba” I was blown away. While Cuban’s define themselves as ONE, the vestiges of racism and color take on a new dimension even in Cuba. So, while my initial interest in going to Cuba was simply to check out the country, I quickly changed my focus and wanted to learn more about “The Negro League and Cuban baseball and further explore the dynamic of race. Later that year I dialogued with the author of the book, professor Esteban Morales Dominquez and he shared many essays he had written on race, politics, even covering President Barack Obama.
Since then we have become very close friends and he is one of my top authorities regarding issues relating to Cuba.
Even though Professor Esteban is retired his voice is sought from across the globe. He pens relevant essays on a regular basis and they are embraced because of the perspective readers are offered.
I am pleased to announce that Professor Esteban has agreed for some of his writings to appear on ThomasReports. Even this week there has been a storm of controversy regarding the comments Senator Bernie Saunders made in mentioning a positive attribute of the Castro regime. I have asked Professor Esteban to chime in. So, stay tuned.
Professor Esteban Morales Dominguez is retired from the University of Havana. He is a well sought-after author who holds two pHD’s in economics and history, one being from Russia. He and his wife Katia reside in Havana.
Today the Negro Leagues commemorates its 100th birthday. Starting in 1920, the Negro Leagues became an institution for African-Americans who had professional talent to play but were denied to join Major League Baseball.due to racial discrimination that was the law of the day.
The league has come and gone but today its greatness can be seen as communicated by the Negro League Baseball Museum. Even though the “old” Negro leagues started in the late 1800’s, it was nearly forty years later when Rube Foster had the vision to organize teams for the masses to enjoy.
The contribution of the league is of great folklore to United States history.
Jacques Bordeaux has penned a masterpiece. I was happy to purchase my copy from Amazon. Hopefully my review will be posted in the next day or so.
I have known Jacques for over 50 years. Amazon has specific criteria for reviews which is why I am grateful for my own platform as I am able to stretch out and provide a better perspective of why you may enjoy supporting Jacques and Valerie as they start their “Sintown Saints” book tour.
During the early to mid 60’s Los Angeles (affectionately known as L.A.) was going through a cultural transition. Many families, especially those in the African-American community were dealing with the reality of police harassment, discrimination and other lifestyle issues which thwarted their progress. As a result folk were packing up and heading out so their kids could have better educational opportunities. As a young teenager I didn’t understand the significance but I recall my mother and father having a heated argument about what our family’s next move was going to be? My younger brother Reginald had not been born so it was just Ronald and I, and our two sisters Evelyn and Angela. My mother gave my father the ultimatum; it was either Pacoima or Pomona! I don’t remember much more other than Ronald and I trying to figure out how in the hell my father was going to get the truck he grabbed from work which was loaded with the family belongings up and over the I-10 Kellogg Park hill? It seemed like an impossible straight uphill shot which was nerve-racking if not daunting…….but somehow, we made it.
The migration was incredible as so many came from Los Angeles and it is now as adults, we have come to realize we actually lived in close proximity to each other. Jacques and his family came to Pomona in 1964. We got to Pomona in May 1965, about three months before August 11 of that year or the day the Watts Riots started. We didn’t recognize then but all of us have a better understanding now. Pomona was known as a regional center or a little larger than a small town. The tract homes were an attraction for families looking to “stretch out.” Whites were the majority population and near the middle to southern part of the city was a sizeable Latino population. The aftermath of the riots opened the floodgates for thousands of African-American families who staked their claim in Pomona. Many landed in Sintown or close-by developments. The Bordeaux’s lived on Avalon which is the entry street as you enter Sintown. We lived on Carlton. It seemed like everyone in Sintown had brothers and sisters so especially for the kids it was easy to make new friends. Just about everybody in the tract went to one of three schools; Arroyo Elementary, Marshall Junior High School or Ganesha High School. As mentioned in “Sintown Saint’s” that connection became part of the Pomona pride. Marshall and Ganesha was known for fielding competitive athletic teams but not to the level of the established schools; namely Pomona High and Emerson Junior High. That is until the new transplants from the Los Angeles region settled in. As Bordeaux states in the book, by the late 60’s Ganesha became a powerhouse in sports and other student activities and the rest is history.
Jacques Bordeaux has used his gift to communicate. Even though it chronicles his family’s life as they developed through various migrations, he shares the resilience and discipline of family life. The book is a jewel because it is an easy read but it speaks to a slice of life in the African-American community that some might assume doesn’t exist. In the Bordeaux’s house the existence was real and not a big deal because they had a commitment to enjoying the benefits of a positive lifestyle.
The film “Just Mercy” is set for release Christmas day, December 25th. It is a must see.
Last night we saw the preview screening at the Regal Theater at the L.A. Live complex. As many times I have been to the “Regal” I never knew the complex had an 800-seat theater? Anyway, thanks to the Californian Endowment, Liberty Hill and other organizations each seat was taken.
The film is about the storied career of activist attorney Bryan Stevenson and his work in helping those tied up in the legal and penal system with no or ineffective representation. The numbers are unimaginable and makes you wonder who in their right mind would take up such a cause where the odds are weighted against you?
“I was able to see the premier at the Grand Lake theater here in Oakland. It was riveting. I’ve known Bryan and his work for decades. He has been an inspiration to motivate me to keep my eye on the prize with the work we do.” James R. Bell, Burns Institute – Oakland, CA
Murder and race
Acclaimed actor Michael Jordan plays Stevenson. The film centers around Walter McMillan who is brilliantly played by Jamie Foxx. McMillan was found guilty of murdering a young lady who is white and had relegated himself to meet his final fate in the electric chair. You will also see O’Shea Jackson (Ice Cube’s son) bring life in playing Roy Hinton who was another person ensnarled in prison. It’s one thing to be poor. It’s another thing to be poor and black!!! Yet, to be poor, black and in Alabama doesn’t take much creativity to conclude what your ultimate plight will be.
The Lynching Museum
Stevens legal brilliance is well known. Several years ago, he took up the charge to give voice to the countless African-Americans who suffered death by lynching. The museum is located in Montgomery and has received rave reviews. Stevenson is from Alabama and headed north to Harvard Law School to obtain his law degree. He took the state bar of Alabama and passed. Upon receiving a grant, he headed back home to establish a legal defense organization to help those like McMillan.
As mentioned, Just Mercy is a must see. It chronicles a stunning series of events. There will be times when you will have a smile or a laugh and then there will be times where your eyes will be wet from tears as you are taken through a journey to see if McMillan can receive justice.
There is a coffee craze going on in the hood. In the past year or so in Leimert Park and on the fringes independent coffee shops have been popping up. In 2018, Hot & Cool Café opened its doors in the epicenter of Los Angeles’ African-American community; Leimert Park. Approximately two miles to the east near MLK Blvd. & Western, South L.A. Café is the newest entry. True to the spirit of community they get their coffee from Oakland based Red Bay Coffee Roasters, which recently announced opening their own spot in 2020 adjacent the famed Harold & Belles restaurant on 10th Avenue and Jefferson.
South L.A. Café is planning for their grand opening which is slated for Sunday, December 8th. I popped in for a sampler and the business has much promise. As mentioned, it is located on the southwest corner of Browning Avenue and Western Avenue, which is one block north of King & Western.
The business is well-appointed, staff is friendly and eager to serve you and best of all you are treated to a positive environment. The area is going through a renaissance or as some may say, gentrification but locals as well as interlopers now have a spot to grab some good coffee and tasty pastries at an affordable price. I understand as the business grows the menu will be expanded to include soups, sandwiches and other items which add to its diversity.
old-school coffee cake and cup of coffee
The spot is spacious, offers a meeting room adorned with noted community activist and artist Mohammed Mubarak’siconic portrait of Nipsey Hussle. Of course, there is complimentary Wi-Fi for those needing a reliable connection.
On Saturday, October 19th a huge crowd is expected to participate in the 14th Annual Taste of Soul Street Festival. The action will be on Crenshaw Boulevard, starting at Obama boulevard and flowing a mile south to King Boulevard. There will be five entertainment stages, information booths, vendors offering all types of food and merchandise and other activities which make it one of L.A.’s premiere street festivals.
From the beginning Taste of Soul has been a huge success. Organized by Bakewell Media and the Los Angeles Sentinel to fill the void and thirst residents and businesses had in showcasing the spirit of the South Los Angeles community. The only drawback of the event is that it is only one day.
Street festivals have always been an event Cities use to promote culture and diversity. Taste of Soul is often compared to the Black Family Reunion event due to its size and corporate support. During the 1980’s, a drug epidemic spread through the nation. Urban cores, specifically the African-American community in areas like Los Angeles were devastated. As a result, some leaders targeted the African-American family structure as the culprit of the problems created by the epidemic.
Responding to the attack of the Black family, the National Council of Negro Women went to work. Through their nationwide reach and credibility, in 1986 they launched the Black Family Reunion. Urban centers across the nation became host sites featuring a simultaneous two-day event. In Los Angeles the event was held at Exposition Park. The success was overwhelming as the theme was simple: showcase the benefit and historic significance of the black family. Following years of community support the event eventually outgrew itself but the point was made.
In 2005 Taste of Soul was organized. They gracefully took the baton and haven’t looked back as the theme has been consistent: showcasing the South Los Angeles community.
For additional information please use this link>>>> TOS
Tip – Even if you are an expert in navigating the streets of Los Angeles or consider yourself well-versed in the Leimert Park and Crenshaw community, you are encouraged to jump on Metro or park in the designated shuttle-ride sites.
The Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is an american jewel. Nearly three years after its long-awaited opening, to gain entry visitors still have to be lucky enough to nab precious advance ticketsthree months prior to their visit. Of course military and several special designations can gain entry without having to obtain advance tickets.
You need a plan
The museum operation is smooth and well organized. What if you’ve planned your journey, invested a tidy sum to get there and discover something has occurred forcing the museum to close? Although that is a rarity, it did happen during our recent visit on Saturday, August 24, 2019. No doubt Saturday has to be one of the biggest days of the week for attendance. Once we arrived from the Metro eagerly to start our museum journey we were met at the line where you assemble for entry. NMAAHC staff Seymour was gracious under fire as he had to calm the nerves of those also in line who were in disbelief the museum would not open.
The museum will be closed for the remainder of the day today due to an internal power outage. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. You may use your passes to visit the museum any day the museum is open. #NMAAHC
Anyway, things happen. I couldn’t help but think about all the people who made personal sacrifices to attend the museum for THAT DAY. There was no tomorrow as they put everything they had in planning for that one special moment. Lucky for us, we had ordered tickets for three days during our trek so with some schedule adjustments we recovered.
Those who were not as fortunate had to scramble to fill in the time during their visit. Of course, the NMAAHC is in prime territory and with the new Circulator bus there are many alternative options to make your journey worthwhile.
What to do?
The question remains what to do should you find yourself in the dubious spot of scheduling a day at NMAAHC and not being able to get in due to technical issues? The most reasonable or practical solution is:
When ordering tickets (online) I would suggest getting a couple of days.
Once you arrive for your big day BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR EMAIL!!!! as should something arise you will be contacting from the email you reserved that was used to reserve your ticket.
The District of Columbia was created by Charles L'Enfant and it's famous quadrant layout was completed by Benjamin Banneker, noted African-American scientist and city planner
gerund or present participle: trekking
go on a long arduous journey, typically on foot.
We just completed our EastCoast v2019 trek. It is called “EastCoast” because we normally cover the states of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. This year we were gifted with five days and decided to spend it all in D.C. Trekking is not for the weary or those not flexible or those needing lots of pampering. Indeed it is a vacation but not the kind that you might imagine. It is better!!!! Trekking requires you to get off your butt or comfort zone, immerse yourself and explore. Normally trekking requires a commitment to public transportation (the Metro) and some good old-fashioned walking. For our 2019 version we included some Uber/Lfyt and even got snakebit taking a taxi.
If someone had told our crew before they made the journey the trek would require walking 20-25 miles……..Judith and I would have been by ourselves.
In addition to Judith and myself, we were joined by our good friend Del Huff, her friend Willie Cravins, who is now considered family and of course my aunt Maryum, who over the years has elevating her trekking skills and ranks with the best. In 2012 when the long-awaited MLK Memorial was completed and ready for unvieling, Hurricane Irene had other plans. Through that incident I was blessed to meet Renie Hale…….at all places, Ben’s Chili Bowl. Since then he has joined our family and from his perch in Laurel Maryland always fits in to round out those making the journey. He has been an active participant ever since then.
What’s so special about the EastCoast or DC?
Our commitment to HBCU’s
Judith and I first visited DC in 2005 as we were exploring Howard University where our son, Fred IV wanted to attend (He eventually decided on Bethune Cookman University).
DC is a city full of national history. Ever since then we have annual visits centered around the last week of August, which coincided with the historic March on Washington which was August 28th. It is our gesture to pay homage and reflect on a small piece of our heritage.
The Foodie Craze
Each trek has offered a different blessing. Starting in 2010 as the foodie craze became popular, we added a foodie excursion to our agenda. In 2019 we were not disappointed as in five days we covered ALL quadrants that DC had offer.
Managing the NMAAHC
Fortunate enough to attend the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture which happened to be President Obama’s last official event ceremony we have tried to warn folk on how to manager their experience to the museum. YOU CANNOT DO THE FULL MUSEUM IN ONE DAY, that is if you are truly serious about absorbing the history! This year we carefully planned our trek to include three visits to the museum. The plan payed off.
A Rarity at NMAAHC
The National Museum of African-American History & Culture runs smooth like a fine-tuned machine. Call it intuition, luck or just plain blessed but I knew there was a reason we were lucky to have tickets to the museum for three days during our trek?
Saturday’s are the busiest time for the museum. Having arrived early for our 12 pm tickets we noticed a line but that is not out of the ordinary. Shortly thereafter, I met the customer service extraordinaire Seymour who was part of staff and had been dispatched to deal with the folk waiting to get into the museum. Seymour had the responsibility to tell folk, the museum would be CLOSED FOR THE DAY, due to some type of power issue. For us it wasn’t that big of a deal as one down, two to go. Po’ Seymour was mortified in explaining to folk who had made financial and personal sacrifices for THAT DAY that they would not be getting into the museum. Anyway, the issue was resolved and the museum promptly opened up on Sunday. Hats off to Seymour as somebody had to communicate with the crowd and he did a remarkable job.
Photos and Media
Finally, as you can imagine, a trek is not complete without lots of photos and documentation. We split our media into categories for easier consumption. Simply click on the link and you will be directed to the appropriate page.
Above photo: WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Writer Coleman Hughes testifies during a hearing on slavery reparations held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee debated the H.R. 40 bill, which proposes a commission be formed to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
The Atlantic’s Vann Newkirk has produced a riveting expose about “The Great Land Robbery.” It is worthy of reading and understanding so that you can weave historic realities into today’s current events.
If you’ve ever been through the Mississippi Delta (Delta) you are right in the passenger seat of Newkirk’s article. The “Delta” stretches from Memphis Tennessee through the western part of Mississippi down to Jackson. The land is legendary for its agriculture yield. Following slavery key parts became transformed into the ownership of African-American farmers. The boon was tremendous but survival did not come without peril. Led by the backlash of emancipation, through the suffocation of Jim Crow and even the Civil Rights era, there was much oppression. The goal of the white power structure was always the same; make it as difficult as possible for African-American farmers to succeed with the bottom-line intent to strip ownership and stunt growth .
The article is compelling and brings you up to date regarding land and ownership in the “Delta” and even provides a perspective on the reparations debate. While the article focuses on farmers in the “Delta” the same principals and examples could be used throughout the United States. Most critically, it will help you understand the notion and primary driver of the wealth gap between Whites and African-Americans.
It is not uncommon that even though on vacation most are tethered to their smartphone. It is nothing wrong with this practice as unlike years ago, a smartphone allows you to do so much more than just talk! Aruba is a very tourist-friendly country, however for those who do not pay attention or manage their visit as once you return back home and get your bill, it can result in a big frown or a big smile. Years ago, a big frown was my reality as I forgot to turn off roaming and the result was a bill nearly $2,000. Back then, it was not uncommon to rent/purchase a device from the local carrier (Digicel) or of course you could use your own.
Fast-forward as technology has improved and pricing has become much more competitive and lower. Most carriers offer a specific “international plan” which ranges from $8– $12 per day. I’ve had T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon and for my weekly stay to Aruba I was paying approximately $70. Not cheap…. but way better than my $2,000 bonehead?
My most recent trip consisted of 8 days. Another reality: Many consumers think Consumer Cellular is designated for seniors due to the reduced cost? That is kind of correct, although not totally 100% correct. A couple of years ago I had Verizon and gladly paid $70. I heard about Consumer Cellular but had doubts, however since I was officially retiring, I was exploring how to reduce my monthly cost. I contacted Verizon and inquired if they offered a “senior” plan or “reduced’ option? I was told no, although they did offer some reductions but no where near the less than $50 per month that Consumer Cellular was offering. So….adios to Verizon!
The bottom-line is I just reviewed my most recent bill which including the roaming charges for my Aruba trip. The cost was $48 which was far less than the $70 I had been paying or even the $60 my wife paid from her AT&T account.
Word to the wise – pay attention to your cost and do not pay more that what you have to. By the way, while I am not endorsing a product or service, Consumer Cellular has exceeded my expectations by offering the same service I had been using, which includes using lots of data at far less than what I had been paying.