BZB and the LEAPers
The LEAPers (front row, l to r) including an unidentified lady,
Nikki Giovanni, Juanita Britton,Tracy Chiles McGhee, and Kwame Alexander. Donna Marie Smith is between Giovanni and Britton, second row.
Thirty years ago, as she began her travels to Africa, little did Juanita “Busy Bee” Britton know that she would eventually bring to Africa 300 Americans and inspire a program that would change the lives of children in Ghana. The life changing program is called the Literacy, Empowerment, and Action Project (LEAP) for Ghana. The group includes educators, artists, authors, activists, professors, and students, who call themselves “The LEAPers.”
The work started in 2011, when Britton was enstooled as Queen Mother Nana Adobea Botwe II of Konko Village and began her quest to change the course of history for the small village in the country’s eastern region. At the charge of the Queen Mother, authors Kwame Alexander and Tracy Chiles McGhee co-founded LEAP as a 501c3 nonprofit in 2012.
Britton says the group focuses on raising money for scholarships, producing annual literacy camps and literary symposiums, and providing career counseling to young adults. “Unlike in the United States, parents are responsible for paying for their children’s public high school education,” added Chiles McGhee.
The group awarded its first beneficiary, Lydia, a $1,000 scholarship to attend high school. Before Lydia, no one from her village had attended high school in ten years. Poet Nikki Giovanni has since joined the effort and helped raised nearly $20,000 for the program.
This year, more than 150 students attended the lively, instructive, and fun literacy camp, while some of their teachers and community volunteers joined to assist. The program also included a literary symposium at the US Embassy, where two Ghanaian professors and two LEAPers shared insights, philosophy, and anecdotes about the impact Maya Angelou made on their lives and work, as well as the literary world.
While one set of LEAPers worked at the camp, another set off for Ashesi University to engage incoming freshmen about different career paths. It was a moving event, with the LEAPers and many of the students sharing their individual stories, hopes, dreams, and fears.
The ten-day trip also gave LEAPers time to take in some of Ghana’s cultural attractions and to reflect on their experiences. During a sensitive and eerie tour of the Cape Coast enslavement factory (or castle as it is most commonly referred), one LEAPer remarked, “They tried to destroy us - - and we are still here.” That prompted Alexander to add, “Because we are still here and because we made it, we have a purpose for our lives. We are here (particularly, in Ghana) for a reason.”
Belleville – Smiling Torture
As the audience walked into the theater and viewed the stage, one person said, “I love this set.” Set Designer Debra Booth made us want to sit in Abby (Gillian Williams) and Zack’s (Jacob H. Knoll) living room and get to know them in Belleville, the play named after a diverse Paris neighborhood.
Along with lighting designer Peter West and sound designer Ryan Rumery, the audience was there in Paris as the American couple took showers and as night turned into day. However, the great set design, lighting, sound effects, and even the (marijuana) smell effects ended up being just a smiling cover.
Through often funny dialogue - - such as when Abby comes home unexpectedly to hear moaning and groaning and Zack “watching” pornography (You have “a slightly Victorian reaction,” he says to her upon her discovery) - - we learn, despite the comforting backdrop, that they have a dysfunctional relationship.
Alioune (Maduka Steady) and Amina (Joy Jones) are Abby and Zack’s younger and more financially stable, French speaking landlords. Similar to a visual artist’s painting white on black (no pun intended), writer Amy Herzog uses the contrast between the two relationships to make the American relationship even more glaring. Getting to know, Amina, who was born in France, and Alioune, who immigrated from Dakar, was great. Steady and Jones convincingly played their parts.
However, as the happy American couple talk turned into torturous drama, I was hoping for an intermission, even a commercial break would have been welcomed. “It’s a lot for me to process at once,” Abby said as things unfolded. I felt her pain.
Interestingly, the lady sitting next to me has seen many of Herzog’s plays and felt that this one did not have well-developed characters. However, I think I got to know the characters well enough; maybe I got to know Abby and Zack too well.
Artistic works like Belleville that are creative and unpredictable are why playgoers turn off their formulated TV programs and venture into the theater. Yes, Belleville was worth missing every television commercial.
Now You Can Select Your Own Seats on Studio's New Website
After launching its new website in April, Studio Theater is introducing the option for you to choose your own seats when purchasing single show tickets. Also, tickets for all ten shows in the 2014-15 season are on sale.
POH Snippets Survey Results
The results of the survey we sent to all of our readers during the past month are interesting. We have already started acting on them.
Generally, POH readers see us as not too conservative or too liberal, but just about right on the political/social spectrum. Even the length of the stories are just about right says most of our readers - - more on this later.
However, many readers suggest that their friends sign up for Snippets, which is free. We appreciate that.
Sadly, the majority of readers don’t forward Snippets to their friends, but we have made it easier for you to do so using any one of a variety of ways via the Sharbare (see below)
The last question was open-ended (it allowed people to write in whatever they want). The question asked what we can do to make more people subscribe and read Snippets. Many readers suggest that we use Facebook, Twitter,and LinkedIn - - we do. Currently, we have more than 450 Facebook “Likes,” and we hope you will “Like” us now
he most popular Facebook post is now included in every Snippets (See Snippets Readers' Trends.
Lastly, one reaction consistently appeared as a write-in response: longer articles. Therefore, among the layout changes we have already made including having more white space, additional links within the stories, updates on past articles, and newer graphics to create a more modern feel, you will soon begin seeing more in-depth lead articles.
New One Question Survey
Port of Harlem is adding a new department or topic area and wants to know which one you think we should add.
We already have the following departments: Entertainment, Features, Health, Our Space (interior and exterior design), Travel, Praising the Past (History), Publisher’s Point (Editorial), The Middle Passage (Inspirational), and The Other Side (voices of the incarcerated).
What new department or topic area do you think we should add and regularly cover?
Make More - Live Longer
Time magazine released an issue focused on providing answers to many questions including how income affects your life or predict how long you will live. See the table below to see how people of different income levels tend to have different habits and life spans, and the children from those households have different average SAT scores. Other interesting tidbits included:
- The cities with the largest gaps between the rich and the poor are, in order: Atlanta; New Orleans; Miami; Jackson, MS; and Gainesville, FL. - - all are in the South and with large Black populations.
- The cities with the smallest gaps between the rich and the poor are, in order: Ogden-Clearfield, UT; York-Hanover, PA; Lancaster, PA; Anchorage, AK; and Reading, PA. - - non-southern cities.
- China is expected to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy in 2019. However, the per person income in China will still make China a poor country. It is expected that their per capita income will be $16,000, while the US per capita income will be $66,000. Furthermore, with rising incomes, manufactures are expected to move 85 million factory jobs away from China to countries where labor costs will be lower.
- 4 in 100 Americans aged 20 to 59 say they have never had sex.
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through Sun, Oct 12, $44-$88
The Millennium Arts Salon
Artist Studio visits with
Alonzo Davis, Dorothy Fall, and Alec Simpson
3704 Otis Street, Mt. Ranier, MD
Sat, Sep 20, 2p-4p, free
The Eve Of Jackie: A Tribute To Jackie Wilson
Bethesda Blues and Jazz
7719 Wisconsin Avenue
Sat, Sep 20, 8:30p, $17.50-$37.50
H Street Festival
400 to 1400 blocks of H Street NE
Sat, Sep 20, 11a-5p, free
Celia the Queen (film and discussion)
1901 Fort Place, SE
Sun, Sep 21, 2p, free
33rd Annual Hispanic Festival
Lane Manor Park
7601 West Park Drive and University Blvd
Sun, Sep 21,noon-6p,free
History of Blacks in DC
DC Community College, Rm. 709
N. Capitol & H Sts NW
Mon, Sep 22, 11a
African Americans in Georgetown
Georgetown University, Healy Hall
37th & O Sts NW
Tue, Sep 23, 930a
HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C Day
food tasting, latest treatments, support programs
Grubbs Pharmacy SE
1800 MLK Ave, SE
Tue, Sep 23, 11a-3p, free
Baltimore Seafood Festival
Canton Waterfront Park
Sat, Sep 20, 12p-6p, $29, kids under 11, free
Baltimore Book Festival
Fri Sep 26-Sun Sep 28
Fri & Sat: noon-8pm, free
Sun: noon-6pm, free
Black Angles Over Tuskegee
Sats, 4p ( open run), $39.50 - $99
The Harlem Chamber Players
Opening Season Concert
St. Mary's Episcopal Church
521 West 126th Street
Sun, Sep 21, 3p, $15, $10 students
Brooklyn Book Festival
Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza
Sun, Sep 21,10a-6p, free
The Harlem Rens
Thu, Oct 2-Sun Nov 16
Thursdays 8p, Saturdays 8p, and Sundays 4p, $39.50 - $99
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Jasmine Murray represented Mississippi in the Miss America pageant. Yes, Mississippi had a Black representative.
Last year's winner, Nina Davuluri, was the first Indian-American winner and she represented New York. This year's winner, Kira Kazantsev, became the third New Yorker in a row to win the title. Of course, the most famous Miss America also represented New York and became the first Black Miss America in 1984: Vanessa Williams - Miss America Forever.