port of harlem snippets

May 2 - May 15, 2013


ivan brown realty

Inspirational Story: When She Stopped Me

Martin Smith“You sit in the Colored section,” an usher directed me.  When I was 12 years old, the pastor of my church took me to a play about the passion of Christ.  Although my pastor, a White Roman Catholic priest, bought tickets for both of us to go to this play, we could not sit together.  So, he decided to leave and come back for me when the play had ended.  

As a teenager in Richmond, VA, the course of my life really began to take shape at Bishop Van De Viver High School.  I remember being impressed by how a group of White nuns, the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore, shown untiring dedication and service to a Black school when segregation and racism dominated the social landscape.  Can you image in 1955, a group of White nuns teaching Back students the Black National Anthem?  But, they did, and they taught us to sing it unflinchingly and with pride.

However, my ministry as a social
worker slowed and eventually halted when multiple sclerosis (MS) took hold of my body. Now, for over 20 years, I have lived with MS and all of its challenges. People often ask me how do I keep going? I tell them:

The courageous example of these nuns had such a powerful influence on me that in 1957, while in my junior year of high school, I decided to become a religious brother in the Catholic Church.  Religious brothers are men who live together in solidarity with the common purpose of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ by serving a particular need in society. 

In 1958, I joined as a novice with the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a Catholic Italian order of religious brothers and priests.  Their mission is to serve the poor and the most abandoned people in the world.  After spending a year learning how to live a dedicated life of prayer and service, on August 1, 1959, I professed the solemn vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and I became a Redemptorist brother.

Over the past 50 years as a Redemptorist, one of the major climactic points in my life occurred in 1989 when I reached the arduous summit of obtaining my Masters of Social Work degree.  Working as a social worker in Baltimore, I was able to make a difference in the lives of children and families just like those nuns who I greatly admired in my youth.  I can still see the faces of children from broken homes, battered women and women of domestic violence who were able to break free from their abusers and taste the sweet fruit of opportunity and prosperity.

However, my ministry as a social worker slowed and eventually halted when multiple sclerosis (MS) took hold of my body.  Now, for over 20 years, I have lived with MS and all of its challenges.  People often ask me how do I keep going?  I tell them:  Keep moving.  Don’t dwell on it.  I could think about it and think about it; and cry over it.  But that won’t change anything.

KanKouran / Melvin Deal Fight to Stay in DC

kankouran dance troop

As the population of Washington, DC continues to fade from black to gray, another facet of Black life is struggling to remain in the city, the KanKouran Dance group. In a plea to community groups, Ayana Smith urged DC citizens to contact local politicians to assist them “to stop the erosion of African cultural organizations” based in the city."

For about 15 years the KanKouran Dance group has moved around in what was a struggling neighborhood, but is now the prestigious and renamed Penn Quarters area; later the group moved to a building north of Penn Quarters in a space that is now condominiums.

Most recently KanKouran conducted their programs at the Randall Recreation Center in the gentrifying Navy Yard area. DC government is renovating the recreation center and KanKouran is out of a home - - again.

The group is currently talking with the Office of African Affairs (OAA), but discovered that the city agency does not have grant making authority. “It’s a matter of valuing African cultural arts organizations that have been in the city for generations,” said Eureka Huggins, a KanKouran member, about why OAA should have grant making authority. However, the OAA does have limited capacity building assistance, while the Office of Latino Affairs has two main grants programs, Latino Community Education and Latino Community Health grants.

KanKouran was founded in Washington, DC in 1983 as a non-profit performing arts organization by Assane Konte and Abdou Kounta, both nationals from Senegal, West Africa. The company members are from Africa, the Caribbean and the United States, all dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich culture of Africa. The company has been offering educational and cultural programming for children and adults in the authentic dancing and drumming styles of West Africa.

Melvin Deal African Heritage Dancers and Drummers is having similar problems. Deal cited raising rents as regentrification grows along the Martin Luther King Jr. corridor. Ironically, the group was evicted from its studio on Good Hope Road, SE the first week of Black History Month.

"It's speaks of a trend this is happening around the country," added Melvin Deal who started the group in 1959. "People deem it not necessary to support Black culture anymore."

Business: ChallengeHer Launched

marie johnsThe U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced a new program during a recent luncheon to help boost government contract opportunities for women-owned businesses. The program created with American Express OPEN and Women Impacting Public Policy will deliver free events and workshops, create mentorships and offer online courses.

During the luncheon, Antonella Pianatlto, VP of Government Affairs at American Express OPEN, urged women to “step up and seize the opportunity.”  Former Verizon Executive and one time DC Mayoral candidate Marie Johns (pictured above) noted that small businesses employ ½ of the people in private sector American jobs and that is why the Obama administration and others support the development of small businesses.  Johns, who is the Deputy Administrator at the SBA until May, continued by urging women to get into the game. She added, “If we challenge her, we will get it done.”

Upcoming Luncheons:
Phoenix, AZ – Wed, June 12
Seattle, WA – Mon, June 17
Denver, CO – Tue, July 16
New Orleans, Atlanta, San Francisco, and New York – to come

Note: Snippets will make the ChallengeHer website available upon its release.

Free Webinars:  Give Me 5 Webinars provide hour-long webinars throughout the year for business owners interested in securing government contracts.

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Howard U is #1 Says Peace Corps

christina titusPeace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet announced that the top Peace Corps volunteer-producing college among the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is Howard University in Washington, DC.  The university holds the top rank with 21 undergraduate alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers and 204 alumni having served overseas since 1961.

One current volunteer is Howard University graduate Christina Titus (pictured above) of San Diego.  She has been living and working in Rwanda since May 2012.

Titus feels that the skills she gained as a student at Howard helped prepare her for Peace Corps service. “It was during my time at Howard that I envisioned myself living abroad. Attending an HBCU opens your eyes to a culture you’d otherwise miss in a traditional school. Professors at HBCUs invest in you. You have fellow students from similar backgrounds cheering you on in what can be an arduous road to graduation. Attending Howard gave me the confidence, courage and capacity to take on such a challenge.”

The following are the top three Peace Corps volunteer producing HBCUs and the number of Peace Corp volunteers they have generated:

1. Howard University                                  21
2. Morehouse College                                 8
3. Spelman College                                     5

POHGEP Completes Roof Project in Gambia

Ndeye Secca-Jallow

videoClick the video button to see the 1.5 minute video where Mrs. Jallow thanks donors and potential donors.

Photo: Mrs. Jallow (left) counts the dalasi's given to her from Wayne Young on behalf of POHGEP donors before handing the money to the SOPA president Mrs. Yassin Ceesay. Read more about his women-controlled cooperative below.

Mrs. Ndeye Secca-Jallow of Alhaji Mamour Secca Memorial Nursery/Lower Basic School is all smiles after the Port Of Harlem Gambian Education Partnership (POHGEP) fulfilled its promise to replace the roof on her nursery school in Old Jeshwang, The Gambia.  Actually, POHGEP didn’t replace the nursery school roof it expected to replace.  This is how the story goes:

Since POHGEP made the promise last March, Jallow has had to deal with several issues.  First, Momodou, her husband and companion of 38 years, made his transition.  Then, a builder told her that it was not worth replacing the nursery school’s roof since the rains had weakened the decades old mud brick walls on which the roof rested. 

As if that was not enough for one woman to bear, the Department of Education closed the nursery school.  Citing new standards, the Department cited that the nursery school could not be on the same compound as her house and didn’t have enough open space for a play area.

Being resourceful, Jallow moved the nursery school to newly built buildings on the compound of her lower basic school (school for ages 7 to 13), just down the sandy road from the family compound.  However, there was one other problem, the Jallow’s had slated the new buildings to become the lower basic school’s library and computer room.  “We decided it was best to convert the rooms to the nursery school as not to lose the students,” says Jallow. 

Beside POHGEP, there were others who came to her aid.  One group, Sopa Sunu Rew (meaning “we love our country” in the local languages of Wolof and Mandinka), loaned her about $450 to fix the roof until POHGEP was able to document the transactions, verify the transactions and deliver the money.  The group consists of about 50 women who deposit about $1 to the group’s saving account every month.  The group then allows members to withdraw money without interest for emergencies.

Jallow still has dreams.  She has dreams of building a second story on the nursery school to house the library and computer room that Mr. Jallow had started.

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Things to Do

Baltimore / Washington

roberto clemente

DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story
GALA Hispanic Theatre
3333 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC
Through Sun, May 26
Thu-Sat 8p & Sun 3p, $20-$42

The Wizard of Oz
Suitland Community Center
5600 Regency Lane
Forestville, MD
Fri, May 3 & Fri, May 10 at 6:30p
$15/resident and $18/non-resident

Princess Tea Party Social for girls ages 2-12
Upper Marlboro Community Center
5400 Marlboro Race Track Road
Upper Marlboro, MD
Sat, May 4, 1p-4:30p, $1/resident and $2/non-resident
Reservations: 301-627-2828; TTY 301-203-6030

Belmont Legacy
Artist Lofts @ Mt. Ranier
3311 Rhode Island Ave.
Mt Ranier, MD
Sat May 4 – Sun May- 5 11a - 7p, free

Beyond Hugo Chávez: What to Expect
in Latin America
Hudson Institute
1015 15th Street, NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC
Wed, May 8, noon- 2p, free
Streamed Live

Beneatha’s Place
Center Stage
200 North Calvert Street
Thu, May 9 – Sun, Jun 16, $

Senior Wellness Health Fair
3001 Alabama Ave, SE
Th, May 9, 10a-4p, free

howard hewett

Howard Hewett
'A Mother's Love' Concert
Anacostia Art Gallery and Boutique
2806 Bruce Place, SE
Washington, DC
Sat, May 11, 7:30p, $40-$100

Diverse Fashion, Food and Culture
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
9701 New Hampshire Ave
Silver Spring, MD
Sat, May 11, 3p-7p

Maryland's 2013 Cultural Arts Expo
Prince George's Community College
Largo Student Center
301 Largo Road, Largo, MD
Sat, May 11 10a - 2p, free

Mother's Day Cruise
Aboard the historic Wm. B. Tennison
Calvert Marine Museum
14200 Solomons Island Road
Solomons, MD 20688
Sun, May 13, 5 - 6:30p, $

Chicago / Gary
Quentin P. Smith Tribute/ Fundraiser
Aquatorium, Marquette Park
Gary, IN
May 10, 5:30p – until, $25

Richmond, VA

2013 ¿Qué Pasa? Festival
May 4, 11a-7p
Canal Walk, free

Fair Housing Celebration Highlights the Value of Thriving Communities II of III

The Poverty & Race Research Action Council has issued a press release about the HUD Fair Housing month event that celebrated the settlement of a major housing discrimination case in Baltimore, MD.

The release details how the lives of three African American women and their families changed dramatically after they moved from inner city housing projects to housing in “opportunity neighborhoods.” (This is the second in a series of three articles to run consecutively in Snippets.)

hud beneficiaries

Photo:  Beneficiaries of the Thompson settlement speaking at a HUD ceremony.  Left to right, Nicole Smith, Michelle Green, Sabrina Oliver and Tameka Johnson.  Barbara Samuels, Fair Housing Managing Attorney at ACLU of Maryland, is on the far right.

Sabrina Oliver’s Story

Sabrina Oliver now lives in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. She said the Thompson v. HUD settlement dramatically changed her life and the lives of her two children. “For me, fair housing is about the hope of a better future,” she said.

 Before receiving a voucher that allowed her to move, Oliver’s 9 year-old daughter suffered from a severe form of asthma that prevented her from doing most types of physical activity. When they lived in Edmondson Village in West Baltimore, her daughter was hospitalized as doctors tried to get her asthma under control. Oliver acknowledged that she also had struggles with debilitating depression and received disability benefits.

“I wanted to get out because of the killings,” she said. “I wanted a better life for my children and myself. I signed up for the (mobility) program as soon as I learned about it and what struck me was how well I was treated. The counselors were wonderful and helpful and I knew that they were available to answer questions if I had any. The process was pretty straightforward; I went to the workshops, saved for the security deposit, and set out to start a new life. I first moved to Parkville in Baltimore County, then to Orchard Beach in Anne Arundel County.”

She said that during the three years in Parkville, her daughter’s health steadily improved and she hasn’t had any symptoms since they left Edmondson Village. She said her son, 16, had always struggled in school. “When we lived in Edmondson Village, I tried everything, but nothing helped,” she said. “The schools were failing him. I chose Anne Arundel County because I heard that they have excellent schools. Now, my son is doing wonderfully and just made the honor roll for the first time in his life.”

She said that her depression “feels like it’s gone” and she is no longer on disability.

“My new environment has motivated me to want something better for my kids and myself,” Oliver said.  “I was able to find work as a patient home care technician and I’ve gone back to school, at Anne Arundel Community College, to become a drug and alcohol counselor. I chose this profession because I think that it is important to give back to communities that are less fortunate. This is what motivated me to join the board of the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership, the organization that is responsible for the Thompson voucher mobility program.

 “My hope is that other families will have the same opportunities that I have been given to reach for a better life. I would like to say thank you to Secretary Donovan and everyone at HUD who worked to make the Thompson program possible.”

Photo:  Beneficiaries of the Thompson settlement speaking at the HUD ceremony.  Left to right, Nicole Smith, Michelle Green, Sabrina Oliver and Tameka Johnson.  Barbara Samuels, Fair Housing Managing Attorney at ACLU of Maryland, is on the far right.

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Jason Collins Makes History

jason collins

- Jason Collins as he became the first openly gay active member of one of the big four American sports organizations – basketball, football, baseball and hockey:

“I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm Black. And I'm gay”

President Barack Obama:

"I told him I couldn't be prouder. You know, one of the extraordinary measures of progress that we've seen in this country has been the recognition that the LGBT community deserves full equality, not just partial equality, not just tolerance but a recognition that they're wholly a part of the American family."

"Given the importance of sports in our society for an individual who's excelled at the highest levels in one of the major sports to go ahead and say, 'This is who I am. I'm proud of it. I'm still a great competitor. I'm still seven-foot tall and can bang with Shaq. And, you know, deliver a hard foul.

"I think a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian who are struggling with these issues to see a role model like that, who's unafraid, I think it's a great thing. And I think America should be proud that this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly. And everybody's part of a family. And we judge people on the basis of their character and their performance, and not their sexual orientation. So I'm very proud of him."

First Lady Michelle Obama:

"So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We've got your back!"

America in Change

1947 Jackie Robinson becomes first Black to play major league baseball
1948 President Harry Truman merges Black and White armies
1955 Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools was unconstitutional
1967 Supreme Court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage
2013 Students hold Georgia school's 1st racially integrated prom

2011 President Obama ends “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing gays to openly serve in the military
2013 Jason Collins becomes the first openly gay active member of one of the big four American sports organizations
2013 Supreme Court set to rule on same-sex marriage this summer

may jul 2007 cover

Looking at Power:  Male Privilege /
Heterosexual Privilege
May - July 2007 issue:

Why does it take more evidence to convict a man of the theft of the sanctity of a woman's body than to convict a man of a theft of property? Why do men, particularly young men, have to prove their manhood by manifesting some type of physical or violent activity? Our experts examine these questions and provide you with very provocative, enlightening, and even liberating answers.

Back issues are available for $5.00

Page: http//www.portfharlem.net/theotherside/

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