There is a Coffee Craze Going on in the Hood: South L.A. Café


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.

The spot is spacious, offers a meeting room adorned with noted community activist and artist Mohammed Mubarak’s iconic portrait of Nipsey Hussle.  Of course, there is complimentary Wi-Fi for those needing a reliable connection.

TOS: All roads lead to Obama & Crenshaw Blvd.


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.

Planning on visiting NMAAHC? What is your backup plan?


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 tickets three 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.


   Smithsonian 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.

nmaahc closing email


Be prepared but don’t turn into a worry-wart or naysayer as life is full of curves and the key is how you respond.

Eastcoast Trek v2019 – A Recap


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

trek

/trek/

verb

gerund or present participle: trekking

  1. go on a long arduous journey, typically on foot.

Our 2019 EastCoast Trekkers. Maryum Robinson (my aunt), Willie Cravins, Del Huff, FT3, Judith, Renie

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.

Original March on Washington Button

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.

EASTCOAST TREK V2019 HISTORICAL PLACES

EASTCOAST TREK V2019 PEOPLE & PLACES

EASTCOAST TREK V2019 FOODIE EXCURSION

EASTCOAST TREK V2019 GOODMAN LEAGUE

God willing EastCoast Trek v2020 is right around the corner and we look forward to sharing another journey with you.

Newkirk: Mississippi Delta, Reparations and the Wealth Gap


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)

PASADENA, CA. Vann Newkirk (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)(Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon)

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.


READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE


To view a special clip of the interview Vann Newkirk did for PBS Newshour see below

Aruba:  International Roaming


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.

Updated Travel Guidelines to CUBA


[Washington, D.C.]   Ever since the June 5th announcement I have received many calls/text and other communication regarding this matter.

 

Unfortunately, similar to the infamous Mueller report, MOST people simply refuse to read the specs for themselves!!!!  It appears they are more comfortable hearing from third-party sources such as media, friends, acquaintances, etc. rather than just taking a couple of minutes to read and comprehend for themselves.  The result is lots of misinformation.

 

Effective June 5, 2019, a regulatory amendment to the CACR removes an authorization for people-to-people educational travel that was conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact (group people-to-people educational travel).

 

No doubt, the Trump administration continues its assault on guidelines created by the Obama administration to prevent U.S. citizens from going to Cuba.   It has been stated this move was implemented in part because the Cuba government supports the Maduro regime of Venezuela?  The assumption is any money spent from U.S. travelers would financially benefit the Cuban government.  The two largest groups impacted are those who traveled by a cruise ship or who went under the peer-to-peer license.  For a smaller minority, travel is permitted as long as it is under the licenses per the June 5th memorandum.

 

For clarity on the updated guidelines, please take 5 or 10 minutes to READ THE DIRECTIVE HERE

Carnival cruise lines is one major company that is negatively impacted by the new guideline and yesterday announced it will need to restate its corporate financial projections.

 

Watts, an update


Thanks to our remote cultural correspondent Elena Bell, LSW we are sharing a screening of the Broken Bread series titled “WATTS.”

A common misconception by most is understanding the 1965 Watts Riot DID NOT START IN WATTS.  The California Highway Patrol stopped Marquette Frye on 116th & Avalon which is in South Central.  His arrest triggered community resistance which became the flash-point of the riots.  It eventually spread to Watts as the main street, 103rd Street was home to the local business strip.

Watts, CA is a mysterious to most, while “home” to so many who have moved from the area but have an affection as the place their ancestors settled when coming to Los Angeles.  What it is not, is the community immediately south of the Santa Monica freeway (I-10).  It is approximately 11 miles southeast of downtown.   Specifically it is tucked into what is called South Central and its boundaries are:

  • North – Firestone Blvd.
  • South – Imperial Highway
  • West – Central Avenue
  • East – Alameda Blvd.

This 30 minute clip gives you a snapshot of what is going on in Watts today.

As African-Americans fled oppression in the South, the early 1940’s saw a migration of basic working-class folk looking for a safe place to raise their families.   Watts and spots in South Central became home to thousands.  In the late 80’s the ethnic composition took another change as a new migration took place and Latinos moved in, however today a small cadre of African-Americans remain.

https://www.kcet.org/shows/broken-bread/episodes/watts

 

Emmanuel hits the screen for 2 days – June 17th & 19th


Monday, June 17th will mark the 4th year congregants were in bible study at Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, SC.   After inviting a stranger by the name of Dillon Ruth to join them for study, time passed before he committed an unforgettable act.  He shot and killed nine souls!

The news shocked the nation!  shocked the world!  They became known as the “Charleston Nine!”


Stephen (Step) Curry, Viola Davis and an extraordinary team has pulled together a documentary of the event.  The one and one-half film will be shown two days only, June 17th and 19th and as of this posting many theaters have reported sell-outs (check your local theater for details).

Processed With Darkroom

My review will follow as we will be at the June 19th screening in Baldwin Hills, CA.

Here is the trailer

Netherlands National Players in MLB v2019


[Oranjestad]     For the first year we will feature baseball players from the Netherlands who are playing in MLB (Major League Baseball).

The Netherlands is located in Europe; however, it has six countries in the Caribbean that are part of their governing system.  Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire are known as the ABC Islands.  Due to the climate Aruba and Curacao long ago embraced the sport of baseball.  A new dimension of Netherlands pride was created in 2013, as 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts who hailed from the Lago Heights community of Aruba staked his greatness as the starting shortstop for the Boston Red Sox.  Coincidently, the Red Sox surprised many by going all the way and winning the World Series.  Currently there are seven players from the Netherlands who are part of MLB. Four are from Curacao, one is from Aruba and one is from the Netherlands.


During my recent visit to Aruba I came across a new eatery just adjacent downtown called Parada.  There I encountered Mr. Humphrey Mohammed who is passionate and knowledgeable about the game.  He proudly stated, “there is great talent in Aruba and Curacao and we are very pleased of the way they are representing our country.  I am fortunate as I have access to the MLB channel so I can stay informed of the progress.”

 


Fred with Mrs. Sandra Brown during interview about her son and family’s success in baseball.
Xander Bogaerts field in Lago Heights

While the sport of baseball….is baseball, games in the Caribbean/Latin America are a bit different than the USA brand.  And, that is not a bad thing but it boils down to your perspective of understanding the game and the cultures who have adopted it.  There is lots of emotion and fan engagement featuring bands, horns and other devices and instruments presenting enthusiastic sounds.

The interior of the newly remodeled Joe Lavist Sports Park

 

Joe Lavist field in Sint Nicolas

Currently Netherlands is ranked 8th determined from the World Baseball Confederation.

This year’s edition has been expanded to include the 40-man roster instead of the 25-man roster.  This was done since technically they are eligible to play at a moment’s notice.

To understand the difference please read here

25 player roster – known as the Active Roster – A club’s 25-man roster is its full roster of active Major League players.

40 player roster – The 40 Man roster is the group of players who are eligible to be added to the active (25 manroster.



NETHERLANDS NATIONAL PLAYERS ON MLB 40 MAN ROSTER
Teams 2019
TOTALS>>> 7
Arizona Diamondbacks
Atlanta Braves 1
Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox 1
Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox
Cincinatti Reds
Cleveland Indians
Colorado Rockies
Detriot Tigers
Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels 1
Los Angeles Dodgers 1
Miami Marlins
Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins 1
New York Mets
New York Yankees 1
Oakland Athletics 1
Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Seattle Mariners
St. Louis Cardinals
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Texas Rangers
Toronto Blue Jays
Washington Nationals