Eastcoasttrek ’22


For this year’s trek we decided to stretch things out. In addition to flying to our initial destination which was BWI (Baltimore-Washington International airport) our mode of getting around was Amtrak. Of course getting to/from Canada we rented a car. Once we got back to the states we opted for public transportation via metro (District of Columbia and New York City) and resorted to a lot, and I mean a lot of walking – based on our smartwatches in seven days we trekked 94.3 miles walking. Oh yeah, one confession but only due to several emergencies where time was not on our side – we opted for Uber on three occasions. Trekking is not for the weak or feeble or those who enjoy the usual comforts of travel. On the other hand our style allows us to experience many things most miss. As usual once we got back into the District of Columbia we were joined by our foodie extraordinare, Renie Hale. As we moved to New York we were joined by my sister Angela.

Countries Visited

United States

Canada

States Visited

Maryland

Connecticut

Vermont

Massachusetts

New York

Cities Visited

Springfield

Baltimore

New Haven

Colchester

Montreal

Plattsburgh

New York City

District of Columbia

Hanover

Highlights of the trek

We knew this trek would require more laser-focused planning. Our funds were limited as was our time but we were willing to move it from 5 days to 7 days. This allowed us to visit Canada, New York and some places we simply did not have time in previous treks. The highlights are goals of this trek was:

Visit Montreal

Experience the Amtrak/Acela

Go to the CITIFIELD Rotunda, home of the New York Mets

CitiField pays homage to Jackie Robinson and even though it is the home field for the New York Mets, the stadium resembles historic Ebbetts Field which is where the Dodgers played.

Visit the new Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City.

This venue just opened and luckily we timed our trek to be able to see the exterior. Luckily one of management staff saw us peering through the windows and came outside to tell us about the museum. It is easy to find and right off the “canal” street subway stop as the entrance is on Vartick Avenue.

Visit the Capitol and go to Statuary Hall to see the new statue of Dr. Bethune. This indeed was the historic highlight as it was recently installed.

This installation had been delayed for over a year due to the insurrectionist and Trump acolytes who damaged the Capitol after falling prey to Donald Trump’s hustle that the 2020 election was stolen. Anyway, there is a process to enter this sacred building. Your congressional rep must coordinate your visit and you will receive a letter (via email) granting entry. The statue of Dr. Bethune representing the state of Florida is magnificent and very historic as she replaces a confederate general (each state is allowed two statues).

TO SEE FULL CEREMONY CLICK HERE

Visit Metropolitan AME as they just recently started back to having full worship.

Built in 1838 this historic cathedral is one of our must-stops when in DC. Due to Covid they recently started in-service worship so we were blessed to be able to be in attendance.

Visit Brooklyn to see where Judith lived

Arriving in 1972 this is the spot she called home and it had been years since she last saw the property.

Visit the Goodman League at Barry Farms to see some playoff games.

The housing projects were removed four years ago but the spirit of the Goodman League remains. It is outdoor basketball at its finest and represents more than just a game played within the rectangular courts. The diversity of the community is on full display. Miles Rawls and his team bring a first-class operation for all who are bold enough to go “inside the gates” at the BF arena to take part in this cultural phenomenon.


PHOTOS these are some of the images captured – CLICK LINK

Our Foodie experience

As you can imagine burning 94 miles requires a lot of fuel so yes we did lots of eating and drinking. Some spots were our favs and of course part of trekking or globetrekking is experiencing new venues. Most are good and a few were just terrible so in fairness we attempt to communicate accuracy……..based on our perspective.

Rita’s Italian Ice

Rhode Island NE, District of Columbia

Rita’s was a great find by Renie. Even though they are franchised you will appreciate their consistency. We opted for their famous Gelati which is 1/2 Gelato & 1/2 shaved ice – refreshing and outstanding.

Ooh’s & Aah’s

5933 Georgia Ave Washington, DC 20011

Oooh’s & Aaah’s specializes in soul food or down home southern – very tasty.


Ben’s Chili Bowl

1213 U St. N.W. Washington, DC 20009

A DC institution and one of the best half-smokes to be found.


Dallas Bar-B-Que

241 W 42nd Street New York, NY 10036

Known for tasty Q and amazing cocktails. Located in Times Square a great find by Angela.


Jimmy’s Seafood

6526 Holabird Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224

Jimmy’s is a Baltimore institution known for their great crab presentations.


Cheesecake Factory at the Live in Hanover

7002 Arundel Mills Circle Hanover, MD 21076

Located in the Live Casino complex, great selections at affordable prices.


K Coffee & Bagel – 7th Avenue & 34th Street – Times Square, NY

Located across the street from the Moxy, this is a great option versus the more fancy coffee shop located next door.

Bergen Bagels

473 BERGEN STREET – Brooklyn, NY

Great options and muffins as big as your head. Plenty of variety at affordable prices.

Sylvia’s

328 Malcolm X Blvd New York, NY 10027

A Harlem institution, Sylvia’s has earned its reputation. Food is great and a nice variety of southern specialties.


Citifield Stadium

41 Seaver Way – Flushing, NY 11368

We opted for the philly cheesesteak which was very tasty and topped it off with a Brooklyn lager.

Aloha Poke

50 Massachusetts Ave NE Union Station, L027, Washington, DC 20002

A great light lunch while waiting for the train.

Legasea at the Moxy

485 7th Ave. (at 36th St.) New York, NY 10018

A bit pricey but great presentation. Now, the rolls are the best I’ve had in years.

BF Coliseum vendor

Barry Farms Housing Project – Anacostia, District of Columbia

This is one of my favs for all of those hard-working folk who bring great food to those watching games at the Barry Farms arena. Slim only serves platters and you get bang for your buck and during this trek his homestyle mac and cheese complete with his country crust made for an unbelievable meal. What a bargin for $20 bucks.

Sweet Home Café

1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560

This is a must-stop. I opted for the southern fried chicken, mac and cheese and greens.


Jab’s Ice Cream

A great change of pace. Shaved ice seemed a bit pricey but it was hot/muggy and this offering was very tasty while hitting the spot.

Alexandre et fils

1454 Rue Peel, Montréal, Qc H3A 1T5

A very nice cafe in Montreal. Service was outstanding and fish and chips was tops as was the chilled wine. The cesar salad was very tasty as it came with bacon bits.

Le Centre Sheraton

Their cafe is adequate but could use some creativity in their menu selections.

Monopole’s

This is a historic venue but they are in desperate need of some find tuning. We opted for the pizza and chicken tenders and while tasty we were disappointed of the limited menu selections or everything being one dimensional of either being fried or baked in a pizza over.

Wahlburgers

Very tasty but a bit pricey.

Café Vasco da Gama

1472 Peel St, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1S8, Canada

A great cafe and coffee bar. I was able to grab some Lily espresso sets.

Jackie Robinson Day 2022 – 75th Anniversary


[Chavez Ravine] Today marks the 75th anniversary that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball (MLB). The impact and folklore of Robinson’s achievement is historic.

Robinson’s playing career ended in 1957 and as the team was preparing to locate to Los Angeles he was traded to the Giants. He traded his glove and spikes for white shirts and suits and became the first African-American in corporate America by becoming Vice President at Chock Full of Nuts.

MLB normally accommodates the Dodgers by making sure April 15th is a home game. We will join the throngs at Chavez Ravine (Dodger Stadium) as they take on the Cincinnati Reds. In addition to the pregame festivities and the thousands who will gather around his statue it will be quite a game to see all players, managers, umpires and field personnel dawn number 42. We remember Jackie!!!!

Postscript

For those lucky to be in attendance it was a memorable pre-game salute. For those who may have missed it the clip below pays homage to Jackie Robinson

Eastcoast Trek 2020


A word about the above photos. The head photo was taken at Black Lives Matter Plaza showing a lady who was doing a “power salute.” The second photo is a Frederick Douglas bust located in Fell’s point. It is a tremendous piece of art as it showcases Douglas’ time spent in the inner-harbor.

The worldwide novel corona virus pandemic added a new dimension to this year’s trek. From hotel’s to restaurants and other places we visited were very sensitive to safety and other precautions.

This trek started years ago as it was simple gesture of paying respect to the March on Washington. This year was the 57th Anniversary and Rev. Al Sharpton through his National Action Network partnered with Martin Luther King, III as well as many other social-action groups to host the event. They did an outstanding job in organizing as well as adhered to safety guidelines.

One more thing about trekkers.  They have an adventurous personality.  We did everything we could to make sure we were protected.  Our flight was dirt cheap.  The jet was approximately 65% full as most of the middle seats were vacant.  The hat-trick was both going and coming back were nonstop.  Another important note is we DO NOT rent a car.  Instead we use the MARC, METRO and/or other public accommodations.  On rare occasions we opt for Uber/Lyft but part of the journey is experiencing people at a basic level, and that is found when you use public transportation.  Plus, with all of the food we consume walking and moving about is a great way to keep a check on those calories!

Click here for some of our photo gallery>>> 57th MOW


Everyone loves photos!!!


Traveling offers many adventures. One being experiencing the variety of foods offered as you go from region to region. Here is a list of places we visited during this trek.

FOODIE EXCURSION

Supanos – Baltimore, MD

Supanos is located near the Inner Harbor or adjacent downtown, next to the Marriott Residence Inn located on Light Street.

The Rat Story

You enter from an alley-like walkway. Covid 19 has added a new dimension to restaurants which are open. Fresco or outdoor dining is the most popular way customers are served. Outdoor dining is great, however the issue you must be aware of, especially at night is nocturnal animals such as rats, which is common around the globe. We arrived a little after 11 pm and were happy to be quickly seated. In the alley there are many other businesses/buildings squeezed together. As we were seated outside I could look over approximately 30 yards and noticed trash overflowing from bins (my wife later informed me it was from the Burger King). Something caught my eye and I noticed a nice size rat scurrying in the alley and headed to the restaurant which was next to Supanos.

I degres. I ordered what I thought was a soup and salad combo but it was basically two bowls of soup. Both were tasty but appeared loaded with a bit too much salt. My wife ordered to chicken fettuccine. The server was overwhelmed as actually even though it was nearing midnight there were quite a few guest, like us looking for a meal.

During our treks we visit the Inner Harbor quite a bit, however that was our first and last time going to Supanos.

Barley’s Backyard – Baltimore, MD

We visited Fell’s Point and stumbled into Barley’s Backyard. We were looking for something light and this place was perfect. Service was great and the food was very tasty.

Ceasar salad

Cream of crab soup

Ethel’s Creole Kitchen – Baltimore, MD

Judith & Fred hosted two dear friends, Renie Hale & Dr. Wilmer Leon

I found Ethel’s approximately five years ago. When I am in Baltimore it has become a must-stop. It is in a very quaint part of Baltimore called Friendship Heights. The great news for us is it is right off of the Marc Light rail. The food is very tasty, however as you might imagine when you bring folk with Louisiana tradition there is a new level of critique. The crab dip was amazing. The red beans and rice dishes could have used a bit more juice and the gumbo seemed a bit too thick. On the other hand, the fried Oysters were perfect. Of course with Covid, we were relegated to outdoor seating and the servers made adjustments to make sure our visit was pleasant.

Crab dip appetizer

Red Beans & Rice w/grilled chicken

Red Beans & Rice w/sausage

Fried Oysters

Gumbo

Side of collard greens

Phillip’s Seafood – Inner Harbor – Baltimore, MD

Phillip’s is well-known in Baltimore. Unfortunately many locals have come to define it as a “tourist trap.” We learned the hard way. Looking for something light I opted for a crab sandwich and Judith wanted her basic ceasar salad. It was only about 7pm and we both were surprised when the waiter came back to inform us there were no more ceasar salads!!!! How does a large restaurant in a popular spot run out of romaine lettuce?

Anyway, our first and last time at Phillip’s.

Phillip’s famous crab cake sandwich

Popeye’s – Baltimore, MD

After a visit to Morgan State University and Memorial stadium we headed to Penn Station to pick up MARC tickets to DC. On the way, we decided to swing by Popeye’s for a their popular chicken sandwiches. I know there is a lot of buzz throughout cities about chicken sandwiches, For the money, Popeye’s is a steal. Tasty and under $5 bucks while just about everywhere else people gladly pay $8 to $12

Lot 38 Espresso Bar, Washington, DC

Located in the Navy Yard section of DC. Not a bad option for espresso, a bagel sandwich or pastry.

Chipolte, Washington, DC

Located in the Navy Yard, a reliable option when you are looking for a quick meal to take back to your room.

Florida Grill – Washington, DC

With our dear friend Renie Hale who is Foodie extraordinare

A DC establishment but Covid has a way of humbling even the best of them. They just started serving breakfast from 9am – 2pm – takeout ONLY. However, if you are lucky there are tables adjacent the window where you pick up your food. You order from one side of the building and around the corner is the pick-up spot. BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR ORDER. Even though it is take-out you want to make sure you have all of your condiments, utensils, etc. We had to ask for the syrup (pancakes) and the muffins were missing, which we found out they had run out but did not inform us at time of order? As we waited for our order, a peculiar thing occurred in all of my years I had never experienced. Some ladies had ordered and upon looking in their bag they discovered the grits were missing! The person manning the take-out window belted it, “there are no more grits and the cook said she isn’t making anymore!!!!” What??? An African-American restaurant running out of grits and it was only about 11:30 AM so they had a good 2 and one-half hours to go!!! Wow. Anyway, since Florida is an institution I’m a bit more forgiven and will chalk up this experience to a rarity. I have been before and the food and service is usually on the money.

Po Boy Jim – Washington, DC

NoMA District

Located in the NoMA district of DC, Po-Boy Jim offers a Louisiana themed menu. Service was good and the food was very tasty. Upstairs is a nicely appointed bar.

Po Boy Jim on H

Gumbo

Busboy’s & Poets / Anacostia – Washington, DC

Busboy’s & Poet’s has transitioned to a DC institution due to it’s good basic food, combined with literature and a great theme paying homage to African-American literary giants. This was our second visit to the newest location which is in the Anacostia community.

Chicken Nachos

Vegan Stir-Fry

Due South – Washington, DC

Due South located in the Yard neighborhood

Due South was this year’s new find. Located in the Navy Yard district, the area has been transformed to one of the more trendier neighborhoods in DC. Nationals Park is the main attraction but many new restaurants have popped up. Due South offers a southern theme and a nice variety of food options.

Southern Fried Chicken w/Mac & Cheese and Collard Greens

Appetizer special – smoked wings & collard greens

Ben’s Chili Bowl – Washington, DC

Iconic building which is anchor of historic “U” District

Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC institution. Hungry or not, it’s a place you must stop by. Half-Smokes are an Eastcoast thing and Ben’s has mastered it. Seating is available in the alley.

Outdoor seating in alley with spectacular mural on each side of wall

G & M Crabcakes – Lincicum, MD

G & M is a Baltimore institution. I should have listened to my brain and ditched the notion of ordering from Grubhub! I was a bit pooped from the train ride from DC to Baltimore so I decided to give Grubhub a shot. Advocates of Grubhub stress the convenience but for what I received I should have simply gone to the restaurant. In addition to the service fee, delivery fee and tip there is also the hidden hustle of them surcharging each item for yet more of your money in their pocket. This was revealed once I returned home and was reviewing my receipts. Interestingly G & M had placed my receipt in the bag and my total came to $42. However, by the time I reviewed my Grubhub bill the total had jumped to $77!!!!!! I should have known better. Anyway, G & M has a nice menu and they are worth visiting in person, unless you have an extra $35 to throw away.

Citizens Redistricting Commission – What it means to you


[Expo Park]  Urban Issues Forum is an organization at the vanguard of presenting political information in the Los Angeles area.  The leadership primarily focuses on issues affecting the African-American community.  Led by Dr. Anthony A. Samad the group is part of the esteemed Mervyn Dymally institute currently headquartered at California State University Dominguez Hills.


This morning at the California African-American Museum the group was host to California Citizen Redistricting Commission.  The focus was to discuss the upcoming 2020 census and to appeal to the community to apply to become one of fourteen members that make up the Commission.  Ms. Margarita Fernandez delivered a very informative presentation about the Commission and why it is critical for people to think about applying to join the organization.  She was joined by M. Andre Parvenu who is part of the first Commission which started in 2010 and since he is from the Leimert Park area stressed the need for those in the community to participate.


WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 26: A Fair Maps Rally was held in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. The rally coincides with the U.S. Supreme Court hearings in landmark redistricting cases out of North Carolina and Maryland. The activists sent the message the the Court should declare gerrymandering unconstitutional now. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)


Being a part of the Commission requires a ten-year commitment and the work is crucial in creating a panel which is diverse and representative of the State and its many communities.  The process is pretty straight-forward but applications must be submitted by August. 9th.

For more on the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission

Contrary to belief – HR40 does not give every Black person a check


Despite what is regularly reported the House of Representative have been busy creating legislation, holding hearings and seeking solutions to benefit the lives of all Americans.

Today, was a hearing on HR 40.  It was not a day where all black people where given checks.  What is was as the nation celebrates Juneteenth was a hearing to determine if a commission is warranted to study the issue of Reparations.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 19: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates 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)


WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 18: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media after attending the Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill June 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. McConnell spoke on several topics including Iran and compensation for 911 responders. Additionally he displayed his sheer ignorance regarding the issue of Reparations by claiming he had nothing to do with slavery. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

For more information please read HERE

 

 

Ghost of Mississippi: The Hyde-Smith, Espy race


Above photo caption.  Phil Carlos Wilson took this photo of Claudia Bivins wearing the flag.  "As I laid the rebel flag down across Vernon's grave, I told my grandson what it represents -- our hope that racism and hatred would die," Bivins said. "That it would be killed at the root of our hearts, minds and souls."

Click HERE to read more about Bivins tribute to Vernon Dahmer


Ballot Box – Election – MISSISSIPPI, USA

The final tally is pending official certification but this past Tuesday Republican candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith beat her opponent, Democratic candidate Mike Espy: 473,109 to 404,640.  While a victory is a victory the margin is yet another warning bell for the GOP (Grand Old Party) and President Donald Trump’s waning popularity.

People protest and march against US President Donald Trump’s alleged interference in Robert Mueller’s investigation in New York City on November 8, 2018. – President Donald Trump was accused on November 8, 2018, of pushing America toward a constitutional crisis after his firing of the attorney general cast doubt over the future of an explosive probe into election collusion with Russian agents. (BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)


In a state where voting is polarized among ethnic and party lines, in a normal environment voting experts felt the race should not have been close.  Even though Hyde-Park will remain in Washington, DC as Mississippi’s second Senator, she was not viewed as a strong candidate.  In the run-off with Espy two blunders cost her more than a few votes that reminded people of Mississippi’s past.  Many voters voiced consternation about having to vote for Hyde-Smith but felt their loyalty to the GOP was more important to the state’s legacy.

Vestiges of Slavery

For some slavery is a thing of the past.  Not every White person owned slaves and not every African-American was a slave, although a good many were.  Fast forward to 2018, data shows our society is more congenial than ever.  However, there is still an attitude that persist with many Whites that African-American’s can never be their equal.   It will be denied but simply look at the social fabric of the United States and inequality remains a persistent thorn in our image.  That attitude is a direct result of the legacy of slavery and racism where one race was dominant over the others.

 

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”  Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President

 

Segregation Academies

Brown v Board of Education was a landmark case in a pivotal time for the United States.  Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling public schools across the nation were ordered to end the practice of segregating students based on race.

 

While some accepted the ruling as the “law of the land” there were just a many who resisted.  The resistance came in many forms and the basis was race.  Many Whites who were part of that population didn’t necessarily define themselves as racist but through their ancestral inheritance they could never fathom direct association with African-Americans, let alone attend the same school with them.

 

Year after year, resistance took many forms.  Across the nation and specifically in Mississippi leaders developed a plan to thwart the ruling.  Rather than open their schools to all ethnicities they abandoned them and set-up private schools known as segregation academies.  The result was the assurance those with financial resources could opt out of public education and not have to attend classes with non-Whites.

 

In 1975, Cindy Hyde-Smith was a minor and she attended Lawrence Academy, which was a segregated academy founded in 1970.  More than likely the decision was made by her parents.  It’s one thing to aspire for a quality education but it is another to do so while minimizing your socialization with other groups?  Apparently Hyde-Smith enjoyed her school experience because to maintain the tradition, as an adult she enrolled her daughter in the same environment.

 

Creatures of habit

 

Some may think what is the big deal of wanting to attend a school with people like you?  The problem arises when you claim to want to represent a state made up of all types of people.   One’s socialization is in the spotlight of how you communicate with others.  In Hyde-Smith’s case, her past sheds light of some of her comments during the campaign where she appears to favor one group over the other, while claiming to be the representative for all!

 

The Ghost

Many Mississippians acknowledge their past history.  Since its opening in December 2017,  the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum has become a destination for locals and visitors to the state.  It showcases the resilience of the African-American experience in Mississippi but it also puts a spotlight on the injustices they had to deal with.  Part of the exhibit is the state’s history of lynching.

 

People from all walks of life make comments which may be viewed as racially insensitive.  Certain topics are taboo or better left unspoken.  One of those topics is any mention of lynching’s.  It conjures up all types of negative feelings and emotions.  For African-Americans who were oftentimes the victims, especially in Mississippi one would assume any comments would be held privately, let alone those who hold public office.

Hyde-Smith attempted to minimize her comment about lynching, instead employing the typical strategy of blaming those who brought her remarks up, as having some ulterior motive against her, instead of simply accepting the fact the remarks came out of her mouth?

 

The lynching comment and the fact of her likeness to segregated schools give pause to her mandate of successfully and equally represented all who claim Mississippi as their home state.

 

More perplexing is Hyde-Smith’s comments during the run-off debate on November 21st

 

 “WE HAVE TO DEFEND OUR CONSERVATIVE VALUES. WE HAVE TO DEFEND OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS. WE HAVE TO DEFEND THE UNBORN CHILDREN IN MISSISSIPPI. I’M THE CANDIDATE THAT CARES. I’M THE CANDIDATE THAT HAS BEEN THERE SIX. I’M THE CANDIDATE THAT DONALD J. TRUMP HAS SAID WE NEED YOU BACK.  Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Nov. 21st.

 

Mississippi acknowledges its past racial history.  Indeed, through the years it has made progress.  Hyde-Smith’s challenge will be her allegiance to all Mississippians, not just those who espouse the Conservative values she emits.  She also must reconcile her attitude for using lynching as a reference to someone she has affinity for.  Then, she must use her power to deal with the education schism the state is known for and one which her parents and she perpetuated by being active participants.

 

In the meantime, those who voted now can take a break and ponder if they are willing to adjust their own racial bias.

Special Report – THE DEVALUATION OF ASSETS IN BLACK NEIGHBORHOODS


Above photo The Brookings Institute is an independent, nonprofit organization that analyzes public policies and publishes its findings in relation to scholarship and public policy. (Photo by © Shepard Sherbell/CORBIS SABA/Corbis via Getty Images)

[Washington, DC]  This special report is provided courtesy of the Brookings Institute and explores the case of residential properties.

Presented by the following authors:

  • Andre Perry
  • Jonathan Rothwell
  • David Harshbarger

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE

2018.11_Brookings-Metro_Devaluation-Assets-Black-Neighborhoods_final

The last time I saw “The Queen of Soul” – Mrs. Aretha Franklin perform


Mrs. Aretha Franklin

March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2009


I’ve been fortunate to hear “The Queen of Soul” – Mrs. Aretha Franklin perform in person a couple of times.  The last time was the most memorable.

It was that majestic Tuesday morning on January 20, 2009 as millions were on hand for the inauguration of president Barack Obama.  As the “Queen” made her way to the podium you knew you were witnessing history.  Her rendition of My Country Tis of Thee was precious.  Her impeccable precision and the way she performed the song lifted your spirit.  The special hat she donned added to the regalness of the event.

As a matter of fact, many will remember the weather was brisk as the D.C. winter chill hovered around 15 degrees.  Days after the great event, Aretha mentioned the chill affected her voice and in her great fashion she re-recorded the song in a more professional setting.  It became a huge success and this tidbit added to the lore of why Aretha proudly wore the crown as the “Queen.”

Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story – An analysis


photo credit: Tasos Katopodis / Getty

Shawn Carter (affectionately known by the world as Jay-Z) and Cinemart have given reason to tear open the scab that was created from a painful wound of the Trayvon Martin verdict. Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story aired the first of its six part docuseries this past Monday, July 30th.  The tally is unofficial but at least 1.2 million viewers tuned it and were taken back five years when George Zimmerman was found not guilty in killing Trayvon Martin.

Whatever your feelings regarding the tragic incident which cut down the young life of Trayvon, the opening airing was riveting and offered some powerful scenes, some never shown before.

For me the February 2012 incident was personal.  Our son was in his final semester at Bethune-Cookman University which is located in Daytona Beach.  We were preparing to see him at graduation in May.   When news of the incident fanned outside of Sanford I called my son to ask if he had heard of the news?  Indeed he had and reminded me when we visited, Sanford was only thirty miles from Orlando was right off I-4.  His graduation was slated for May in 2012 so we agreed to visit the site and research the incident, including Martin’s movement to the 7-11 and back to the site were he was gunned down.

Some may dismiss the docuseries but from the first showing I would encourage people to tune in.  All along, from carefully following the incident including the subsequent trial, I concluded the prosecutor’s simply did a poor job in presenting the facts of the case.  Notwithstanding while the prosecution blew the case in holding Zimmerman guilty of the killing, Martin’s parents; Tracey Martin and Sybrina Fulton did win several civil legal settlements including the homeowner’s association who was guilty by having Zimmerman associate with them as their pseudo neighborhood watchman.

Next airing: Aug. 6, 10pm (est)

 


**REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE URBAN BLOGG, ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 13, 2013**

Whether it was the State who didn’t get their message or evidence across, or the Defense who put up road blocks that verified doubt, the bottom line is the 6 women Jurors found George Zimmerman not guilty.  Or, could it be they just couldn’t find sufficient evidence to find him guilty?

While the news is surprising, as in my mind I have no doubt George Zimmerman was guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin and should have been found guilty…..I was not a juror, so the struggle must go forward.  Your thoughts???????

cartoon courtesy of www.rippdemup.com
cartoon courtesy of http://www.rippdemup.com

For Zimmerman supporters, the news brings joy and their voice will recant this case never should have been tried.  For supporters of Trayvon Martin and his family, including me this is a travesty of justice.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL RECAPS

 

 

Recap: “Evolution of View Park: Making Sense of Gentrification”



[Expo Park – Los Angeles, CA]  Last Thursday the California African-American Museum hosted the final symposium series on gentrification. The event was created by Karen Mack of L.A. Commons. “Evolution of View Park: Making Sense of Gentrification” featured great audience participation, some solid questions and an excellent presentation.

South Los Angeles is ripe for gentrification as the average home price sets at $375K

Complex topic

As mentioned in previous articles on this series; the gentrification topic is very complex and one that can be quite emotional in discussing, particularly from the brave souls in attendance who offered compelling anecdotal commentary.   These types of events are eye-openers as the commentary offered by the audience oftentimes transforms into a venting session which is necessary to put the topic front and center.  However, it can be precarious as the venting can go on and on…….leaving very little room for solutions based strategies to be communicated.

 

“This series has been so successful Karen should take it on the road” Robert Lee Johnson, Community Author

 

The event started at 2pm and once again the venue was packed to the brim.  As predicted due to the primary area of discussion; View Park, the majority of those in attendance were African-American.

 

Crack epidemic in the 80’s

 

The civil rights movement of the 1960’s as well as the dismantling of racial covenants which previously kept African-Americans from moving into certain communities was critical as there was an increase in the movement towards achieving middle class status through home ownership.

 

Families grew at an impressive clip.  What gets lost in the whole gentrification discussion, particularly trying to answer the question of if certain neighborhoods or property was hard to achieve why did some of those same families leave and flee to the suburbs and other areas?  For those who cherish Ronald Reagan as an icon of growth while perpetuating the “American dream,” those from the African-American communities have a different perspective.  It is well documented funds needed to fight the Nicaraguan war as well as other conflicts in Central and South America came from the purchase of the readily supply of cocaine.  The product found haven in urban centers across America.  The result was turf battles, killings and other negative consequences which dismantled neighborhoods that were once beacons of progress and hope.  As those areas decayed, it became ripe for reinvestment to replace current occupants.

 

Legacy and affordability

A key theme or issue which many were seen nodding their heads in agreement was the notion that offspring of those who purchased property in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond have great difficulty in being able to purchase their own home, today!  While that is a statement many seem to affirm, it raises many questions.  Did those parents who originally purchased home not do an adequate job in helping their offspring achieve financial literacy?  Due to their successes, did they seem to project a road that their offspring would not have to work or sacrifice like they did?  Why do they assume their offspring cannot qualify for financing, while admitting their incomes are perhaps higher based on the age they first purchased?  It is more complex then assessing those who grew up in the area cannot afford the very area they grew up in.

 

Reverse racism?

 

The interest in the symposium topic was obvious based on packed crowds at each event.  There was a strong sentiment of how homeownership was achieved and how it was critical for them to create a legacy for their heirs.  More important was the need for African-Americans to maintain those neighborhoods.

 

United States history is ripe with laws, regulations, discrimination and other tactics to deprive groups such as African-Americans from owning property or relegating them to specific communities.  Some in attendance were quick to point out their pleas to keep neighborhoods in the hand of African-American should not be construed as defining them as racist.  Technically that would be impossible as racism is using race to oppress other ethnic groups.  African-Americans are not creating any laws or systemic maneuvers to keep any out.

 

Solutions

As mentioned due to the venting there was more assessment of the problem versus solution.  However, that is to be expected as what Karen Mack organized was a starting point to discuss the issue and that is crucial for stakeholders to speak to their issues.

 

One important theme offered by those presenting possible solutions was the need to become organized and take a more active role in legitimate organizations.

 

Due to time the event had to conclude but many in attendance committed to taking this discussion offline and continue to address issues to combat the negative reality of gentrification.

 

Readers are encouraged to educate themselves on this topic.  Karen Mack may or may not agree to a road show, in the meantime those interested must stay engaged in community platforms such as the one which brought folk together for this series.