port of harlem snippets

May 30 - June 12, 2013


ivan brown

A Rare Account of Nat Turner's Rebellion

cr gibbs"Colonel" James F. Webster (1827-1910), a native of Alexandria, Virginia, rose from constable to captain of that city's police force in a career that lasted more than 40 years. Although a child at the time of the actual Nat Turner rebellion, he heard about, as well as witnessed, stories and events of slavery, the Underground Railroad and the growth of his birthplace. He entered the local police force near the end of the Civil War and his duties at the police court gave him access to many old records.

He was widely known for his "remarkably tenacious memory, the ex-chief's reminiscences of Alexandria were legion, and for many years he was regarded as a sort of local encyclopedia by the younger generation," according to the Alexandria Gazette. While his recollections about the Turner rebellion differ somewhat from the established historical record, his memory provides us with a uniquely informed glimpse of a turbulent bygone period. The following is an excerpt from an interview Webster gave to the original Washington Times newspaper on December 29, 1901:

"About 1830 a certain planter in southern Virginia had a Negro house servant named Nat Turner, whom his children taught to read. In the course of his reading, Nat fell in with an abolitionist organ that so inflamed his mind that he proceeded at once to plot an insurrection of slaves and a general uprising of Negroes all over the State.

Communicating his designs to the Negroes on the plantations for miles around, he arranged for a big barbecue on a certain day at a point in the woods distant from any farm house. When the day came, the Negroes gathered ... armed with every variety of weapons from guns to hatchets and pitchforks. At a signal from Turner these Negroes sallied forth, falling on unsuspecting Whites, sparing neither age nor sex...So sudden and unexpected was this onslaught that the Negroes killed sixty Whites before the latter took alarm.

nat turnerWhen the alarm began spreading, thirty Whites armed themselves and started to meet the Negroes, while runners were sent for the nearest body of State militia...Those involved in this uprising were hunted down on the arrival of State troops, and severely dealt with, but Turner escaped to a cave, where he was fed by sympathizers...A reward of $5,000 was offered for him, and one day a man out hunting saw Turner emerge from the cave. He covered him with his gun, marched him into the nearest town, turned him over to the officers and received the reward.

Turner was hung publicly, the planters for miles around bringing their slaves to the scene to see him executed. This was to give them an object lesson in submissiveness.

Southampton, VA. was the place where Turner was hanged. The noose was suspended from a tree and Turner made to stand up in a wagon, which was driven out from under him when the noose was adjusted around his neck...This affair caused more excitement than anything that has ever occurred in Virginia. The excitement over the John Brown raid and the Civil War was nothing compared to it. Laws were passed by both the District and Virginia prohibiting Negroes from gathering for any purpose...Three Negroes caught talking together and unable to give a satisfactory account of themselves were shot. It got so that during three years prior to the Civil War slavery was more trouble than it was worth...people grew weary of slavery and began selling their Negroes as fast as possible."

Free Tour:  Port Of Harlem contributor CR Gibbs leads a bus tour of sites significant to slavery and emancipation in Washington, DC including places where Africans were sold, escaped, trained as soldiers and laws written that ended their captivity.   The tour is Saturday, June 22, 10:30a-2p. Call the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum for reservations, 202-633-4844.

champion services travel - group travel

Beneatha's Place Opens in Baltimore

beneatha's place

Beneatha’s Place is by no means a run-of-the-mill sequel.  It’s a thought-provoking drama with humor that Kwame Kwei-Armah managed to create from the Lorraine Hansberry play, A Raisin in the Sun.

In A Raisin in the Sun, Beneatha proposes to use the life insurance money from her father’s death to attend medical school, but her mother uses some of the money to purchase a home in White Clybourne Park while her brother gets conned into investing in a proposed liquor store.  Subsequently, Beneatha receives a marriage proposal from her Nigerian boyfriend, Joseph Asagai, who wants Beneatha to get a medical degree and move to Africa with him.

At Baltimore’s exquisite Center Stage, Beneatha is grown, married to Asagai and is settling in her new home in Lagos, Nigeria just as Ghana is celebrating its independence from Britain.  As the first Blacks in a subdivision populated by colonialist, Beneatha and her husband not only deal with racism, but colonialism as it affects their relationship and their relationship with others.

Amazingly, Afro-Brit Kwei-Armah takes such a deep subject and juxtapose it  with discussions about Joseph’s collection of black memorabilia while adding humor - - such as when American missionaries in Nigeria insists that Beneatha needs to be taught how to work a light switch.  Added are the discussions on racism’s cousin, colonialism.  Joseph adds in disgust, Nigeria consist of a “bunch of foreigners thrown together and told to be one.”

beneatha's placeOnly during the second act does the seriousness take a short toll as the characters take on the growing contemporary issue of America’s changing demographics and its consequences - - just as Raison in the Sun did as it centered around a Black family moving into a White neighborhood.  In Beneatha’s Place, they debate is on replacing the Black Studies department with a Critical Whiteness Studies department, but it only leads to a quiet big bang of a memorable and thought provoking end.

Editor’s Note:  On Friday, October 25 at 9pm ET, PBS will feature “A Raisin in the Sun Revisited:  The Raisin Cycle at Center Stage.” The 60-minute special will feature the process of mounting The Raisin Cycle through the openings of Clybourne Park and Beneatha’s Place at Baltimore’s Center Stage.

School Choice Group Calls for Going Big, Going Bold

kevin chavous - school choiceFormer DC Councilperson Kevin Chavous served as Master of Ceremonies for The American Federation for Children (AFC) luncheon. The gathering of school choice advocates called from more free market approaches injected into the American school system.   

His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, DC, praised Washington’s Opportunity Scholarship as a program that other states should follow.  The scholarships provide poor parents public funds to send their children to the private school of their choice. 

During his speech, Indiana Governor Mike Pence made an historical observation.  He harked back to 1963 and the Civil Rights Movement when Whites told Blacks wanting to attend nearby Whites-Only public schools, “You cannot come in.” Now, he says, the power elite says,  “You cannot come out.”  However, one National Education Association attendee said many people are “not against school choice, but privatization” since children of the least motivated parents will still need good public schools.

For school choice options to be effective, says Bob Smith, former CEO of Messmer Catholic Schools, “We have to offer some education to parents - - and that costs - - if we are truly partners,” in their children’s education.

To evaluate schools, parents can use the Great Schools website.  Parents can also do personal visits. Smith says he judges his Milwaukee schools by seeing how clean the bathrooms are, the neatness of the library, how much information is provided about the school’s less dominant group and the cleanliness of the classrooms.

Editor’s Note:  One vendor at the conference was Shepherds College, a faith based private school that provides culinary, horticulture and independent living training for young adults with intellectual disabilities.  Students attending the school are allowed to use federal student aid money.

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Grubbs SE Now Open Saturdays

Grubbs Pharmacy, 1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, will begin opening Saturdays from 10a to 3p, Saturday, June 8. The pharmacy accepts most insurances including DC – ADAP, which provides coverage for many citizens with HIV.

Like some other independent pharmacies, Grubbs still offers free delivery services. The store, which shares the same building with Industrial Bank, also includes a mini-part that delivers breakfast and lunch to offices and has breakfast, lunch and coffee available in the store.


TC Carson Awarded For Star Wars Voiceovers

TC Carson has voiced the Star Wars character of Mace Windu for seven seasons on television: for two years in "Star Wars: Clone Wars" then for the last five in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."  Carson also voiced Mace in many Star Wars videogames, including "Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith," as well as voicing Darth Vader in "Star Wars: Galactic Battleground."  For his work, The 501st Legion, one of the largest fan and charity organizations, recognized the actor and voiceover artist for his contributions to the Star Wars universe.  Past honorees include George Lucas, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.

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grubbs pharmacy

Things to Do


harriet tubman
Harriet Tubman
Underground Railroad Conference

Chesapeake College
Cambridge, MD
Fri, May 31 and Sat, Jun 1, $

Shaykh Abdul Karim Yahya

Lecture: Reflections on the Prophetic
Example in Our Age

America's Islamic Heritage Museum
2315 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE
Sun, Jun 2, 4p

Larry Brown Quintet
Senior Wellness Center
East River Jazz Series
3100 Alabama Ave, SE
Washington, DC
Fri, Jun 7, 2p, donations

Craig Alston Quartet
Anacostia Museum
East River Jazz Series
1901 Fort Place
Washington, DC
Sat, Jun 8, 2p, donations

Tim Green 4tet
Wesley UMC
East River Jazz Series
5312 Connecticut Ave, NW
Washington, DC
Sat, Jun 8, 6:30p,
$10, $7 Sr, children free

Ken Ludwig
discussion on Twelfth Night
book-signing: How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.
Folger Theatre
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Sat, Jun 8, noon, free

Health Ministry’s 2013 Health Expo
First Baptist Church of Glenarden
3600 Brightseat Rd
Landover, MD
Sat, Jun 8, 10a-3p, free

23rd annual Strawberry Festival
The Ann Arrundell County Historical Society
Benson-Hammond House
7101 Aviation Boulevard
Sat, Jun 8,10a-3p, free
rain date:  Sun, Jun 9

Herman Burney, bass
Reginald Cyntje, trombone
East River Jazz Series
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Jazz Duet
1550 Anacostia Ave, NE
Washington, DC
Sun, Jun 9 10a, donations

Jazz Dance Jam
Greg Hazta Organ-ization
Anacostia Playhouse
East River Jazz Series
2020 Shannon, SE
Washington, DC
Mon, Jun 10, 7p, donations

danny glover
Danny Glover in
Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop
Original World Premiere
Hallmark Movie Channel
Sat, Jun 1 (9p ET/PT, 8C), free



, The Gambia

Baobab Youth Development Association’s
3rd Anniversary Celebration
Association Office, Nema Misara
Sat, Jun 8, 6p, free

3rd Annual Jammin for the Dunes
Amphitheater at Washington Park
Michigan City, IN
Sat, Jun 1, 5p-11p, $15

New York (Greater)
Caribbean Week in New York
Sat, Jun 1 - Sat, Jun 8

Mozart and Beethoven Wind Serenades
The Harlem Chamber Players
with Conductor Tali Makell
Goddard Riverside Community Center
Bernie Wohl Auditorium
647 Columbus Avenue at 91st Street
New York, NY
Wed, Jun 5, 7p, free

Summer Reading

peter michaeleLit Awards has named POH subscriber Peter H. Michael's Remembering Remembering John Hanson: A Biography of the First President of the Original United States Government the 2013 Silver Medalist in Biography for books published in 2012.  "It would be hard to recognize a more deserving subject than the overlooked John Hanson for this important award which should go far in helping to reintroduce him to the American people," says Michael.

god's graffitiRomal J. Tune takes nine Biblical stories and shares them with personal tidbits in God’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens (The release date is July 1, 2013).  He ends the easy to read book with a chapter simply titled:  "You Are Already Good Enough."  In “Jephthah:  From Family Shame to National Fame,” he writes about Jephthah whose siblings rejected him because he was born out of wedlock.  “Simply put, these young men were not valued by their communities. They would be considered troublemakers, street kids; I see them as gang members. When I read Jephthah’s story, I feel that he joined a gang. They hung out in the wilderness, dangerous places, places other people were afraid of and didn’t want to go. I imagine that they did whatever was necessary to survive. Today the wilderness would be the streets in communities where young people go when they are rejected by their families and communities.”

In Harlem Nocturne:  Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II, Farah Jasmine Griffin tells the story of novelist Ann Petry, choreographer and dancer Pearl Primus and composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams.  Griffin writes, “Black modern dancers would be among the first notable Black women to wear their hair natural  . . . For figures such as Primus, and later her student, a young Maya Angelou, unprocessed hair styles were born out of necessity.”

Clyde Farris hopes that you will use Etiquette for the Black Man to urge young Black men to take responsibility for their actions, while providing them with the tools needed for personal improvement.  The book, says Farris, relies on Biblical principles, courteous manners and common sense to teach Black men of all ages how to live a better life.
What’s so “different” about Horace Lee Mungin’s A Different Point of View with illustrations by Hampton R. Olfus, Jr. is that his poetry harks a day gone by.  With references to the likes of James Baldwin, Thelonious Monk on Amsterdam Avenue, Nina Simone, Steve Biko and the Vietnam War, some will find the verses warming like a good long-lost friend while others will find it historical.  No matter the perspective in which you read, A Different Point of View is a history lesson set to poetry.

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Curtis Mayfield

curtis mayfield

Happy Birthday
June 3, 1942 - December 26, 1999

Choice of Colors by Curtis Mayfield
as song by Della Reese



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