February 19 - March 4, 2009

National Geographic Center

Cicely Tyson and Eriq LaSalle in New Film

Emmy winning actress Cicely Tyson knows plenty about fatherless families, having been raised by her mother without a father around, a theme which rings true in her latest film for Hallmark Channel, “Relative Stranger,” which premieres Saturday, March 14th (9/8c). The film portrays a family whose father played by “ER’s” Eriq LaSalle returns after a six year absence, and explores the effects that absence has had on his wife and two children, as well as other members of the family. The theme is one the film’s stars feel passionately about.

Unfortunately, children who grow up abandoned by a parent often repeat their experience. “Most of these young fathers who abandon their child never had a father,” says Tyson. “They had no model to draw from or to learn what’s right and what’s wrong. So they do exactly what their father did,” continues Tyson.

“It’s something that’s very generational,” adds LaSalle. “And if you’re not careful, you can have dysfunction being generational. My character, for example, has a dysfunctional relationship with his father and how he’s perpetuating that onto his children,” he continues.

Tyson adds, “We hope that this movie speaks to young men, and that it brings a realization that you can truly attain whatever it is that you want to attain in life, despite having the responsibility of being a parent. And that they will then be able to pass that on to their own sons. Because if someone doesn’t take hold of that son’s life and nurture that life, he could end up exactly the same way.”

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Dr. Ben Wants to Hear from You

Historian and tour guide Dr. Yosef A. A. Ben-Jochannan is open to receiving your cards and visits. Reach Dr. Ben, as he is known by many, at:




Bay Park Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation
Room 301
801 Co-op City Blvd. Bronx, NY 10475

Visiting hours are from 11a to 9p.

Dr. Ben was born December 31, 1918, to a Puerto Rican mother and an Ethiopian father in what is known as the Falasha Hebrew community in Gondar, Ethiopia. Dr. Ben's formal education began in Puerto Rico. His early education continued in The Virgin Islands and Brazil. He earned a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico and a Master's degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Havana (Cuba). He received doctoral degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona (Spain). He is responsible for enlightening thousands of people on the greatness of Africa’s Black heritage, Egypt in particular, through tours, books and lectures.

Phote:  Doc Ben (circa 1990).


Underground Railroad

Preservation Awards
By Peter H. Michael

Do you know a person or organization doing exemplary work regarding the Underground Railroad? If so, consider submitting a nomination to have the work recognized.

The Underground Railroad Free Press (URFP) awards the annual Free Press Prizes for Leadership, Preservation and the Advancement of Knowledge for contemporary Underground Railroad work, the highest honors bestowed in the international Underground Railroad community. As the Underground Railroad was an international effort, the URFP encourages nominations for the prizes from the United States, Canada and any other countries that had Underground Railroad involvement.

The Free Press Prize Panel of Judges review the nominations and select the winners. The judges are an international group of Underground Railroad experts and includes scholars, authors and journalists. The URFP announces the winners of the 2009 prizes in the September 15 issue of Underground Railroad Free Press and is reported in Snippets.

Click here for a list of the previous years’ winners, and for nominating instructions and forms. The deadline for submitting 2009 nominations is Monday, June 1.

China Builds New Hospital

in Liberia

The Chinese government is providing $10 million for a 100-bedroom hospital project in Nimba County, Liberia. The project is one of several development initiatives undertaken by China in collaboration with the Government of Liberia. China is currently in partnership with the United States, constructing dormitory and other academic facilities at the Fendell campus of the University of Liberia. The Chinese government is also involved in the following Liberian projects: The Tubman Military Barracks in Bong County, an Agriculture China Builds New Hospital in Liberia Research Training Institute at CARI, and the Kpatawee Hybrid Rice project.

Click here for weekly updates on what is developing in Liberia.

Pressure Mounts Killing of

CA & MS Black Men

It wasn't just one cop attacking Oscar Grant in Oakland on New Year's Day, just days before the Obama inauguration. A new video shows that before Grant, who was African-American, was killed, officer Tony Pirone punched him in the face without cause. Experts have called it criminal.

It took two weeks and thousands of people speaking out before the district attorney charged Grant's killer with murder. Color of Change is asking you to join them in publicly confronting District Attorney Tom Orloff, as well as calling on California's Attorney General to keep an eye on the Orloff’s handling of the case. Click here to sign a petition.

On December 8th, 17-year-old Billey Joe Johnson died from a gunshot wound to the head. Police say he killed himself with a shotgun after being stopped for a simple traffic violation in Lucedale, Mississippi.1 Several things seem to cast doubt on the official story, including an independent investigation that concluded it would have been impossible for the shot that killed Johnson to have been self-inflicted. Click here to sign the petition.

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60 Take Walking Tour of the

"New Navy Yard" Neighborhood

About 60 people joined the Smartergrowth advocacy group on a walking tour to learn about the development of the Navy Yard area of S.E. Washington. In particular, they learned how planners are developing the neighborhood “green.” The developing neighborhood will include a shopping, entertainment, and restaurant district with a Harris Teeter’s grocery store, apartments, town homes and office jobs.

Four Blacks (six percent) joined the walking tour including young real estate professional Nicole McNair. She says knowing how to determine her future drew her to the tour. “The information provided during the tour is a sample of the condition of many real estate markets and the tour provided me with information regarding the climate and the future of a rising market in WDC,” said McNair.

To Learn More:

Contact the Coalition for Smarter Growth

Read “The Green Revolution and Our Center City Beachheads,” by architect Melvin Mitchell in the November 2008 - January 2009 print issue. (His articles appear in every other issue in “Our Space,” only in the print issue)

Greensboro Plans to Build Black Museum

Greensboro, North Carolina is joining the league of cities who have built a museum centering around the American Civil Rights Movement. The International Civil Rights Center and Museum will commemorate the role that Greensboro played in advancing the civil rights movement. The Center will be located in the original F.W. Woolworth building on downtown Greensboro's Elm Street and will honor the sit-in of February 1, 1960 that took place there and other civil rights accomplishments.

Lorillard Tobacco Company recently agreed to donate $1 million to the center. The donation is part of an additional $10 million in funding for the site that was announced during the Center's 49th annual awards gala in January.

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