December 25 – January 7, 2015

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Mentoring Pays Off

derek ogbeideFour years ago, I surprisingly met a kid at the Prince George's County Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Maryland.  Quickly, I noticed his feet, arms, and height. 

Considering that I am a former athlete, I had to ask him the million dollar question.  "Do you play basketball?"  "No," he said, with a smile.  I wasted no time with a follow-up question.  "Do you want to play?"  "Yes," he uttered.

That very same day, he introduced me to his mother. After giving me a good report of his studies, his mother authorized me to assist him and the rest is history.  I drove my new mentee to Kenmore Middle School as frequently as possible, introduced him to the physical education teacher, Michael Holmes, who eventually introduced me to the head basketball coach.

Well-mannered and humble, Derek Ogbeide (pictured right) loved math, among other subjects.  At 13, he stood 6'2, wearing size 13 shoe. And, he simply wanted to learn the game that Dr. James Naismith invented. 

Eventually, his making the basketball team created instant joy; it was also his first time playing organized basketball. The family and I were elated, needless to say. Obviously the tallest on the team, Derek blocked shots without jumping. Throughout every game, he fearlessly grabbed rebounds and blocked shots with a smile.  When he scored, the cheers fired him up, more and more.  He finally understood the "Three Seconds Rule."

Whenever the opportunity presented itself on weekends, he and I would discuss life and work out at the South Bowie (Maryland) Recreation Center with Friendly High School (Fort Washington, MD) coach Carroll Holmes.  Considering that we are both left-handed in a right-handed world, I encouraged Ogbeide to become ambidextrous. And he is today.

Moving fast forward, again, Ogbeide is now 6' 8, 230-pounds. He helped Pebblebrook High School, outside of Atlanta, to a 24-6 record as a junior. As a senior, he signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Georgia next year. He's ranked as one of the top 75 best players in the Peach State.  The best is yet to come!

Sen. Cory Booker Starts
New Book Club

 cory booker's book club
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has introduced a novel approach to lawmaking with the creation of a book club.  He is urging Americans to sign up for the club and read “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander. Booker says while crafting the Redeem Act to reform the American justice system, the “one book that helped me to understand the urgency of this issue was ‘The New Jim Crow.’”

Booker is joined by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in writing the bill that they say address the fact that United States accounts for just 5 percent of the world's population, but a quarter of the world's prison population. Booker added “It's time for a pointed national conversation about our justice system focused on the crisis it has created.” The former Newark, New Jersey mayor says members will discuss the book on an online platform as they are reading the book.

Mary’s House for LGBT Seniors

 older lgbt
“Imagine not being able to live in a friendly residence that honors you and allows you to bring your whole self – home,” says Imani Woody, founder and president of Mary’s House.   Woody founded Mary’s House to address the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) elderly persons.

How to manage the growing American elderly population is becoming such an issue, that talk of how to handle diverse senior populations, such as LGBT seniors, is gaining ground. 

“There are many stories of LBGT persons being discriminated against in nursing homes, retirement communities and by housing professionals,” continued  Woody. Mary's House is being developed in the Fort Dupont Park section of Washington, DC and will provide a communal, independent living experience for adults 60 years of age and older. This will be the first facility of its kind in Washington, DC.

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Choir Boy Opens at Studio

The Studio Theater opens the new year with Choir Boy, a music filled story of Black masculinity, tradition, coming of age, and finding new ground.  The play is set at an elite boarding school, Charles R. Drew Prep.  The school’s legendary gospel choir is faced with new economic challenges and one student, Pharus, has to decide how to handle his sexuality as he faces a possible future as the choir’s leader. 

Tarell Alvin McCraney, best known for his acclaimed trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays: The Brothers Size, In the Red and Brown Water, and Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet, wrote the play.

Mount Vernon Holidays

Mount Vernon, the home of President George Washington, is decking the halls for Christmas with a special programing offered through January 6, from 9a to 4p each day. The home is offering themed decorations (including 12 Christmas trees) and historical chocolate-making demonstrations. Christmas visitors can also meet a camel on the grounds similar to what some of Washington’s guest were able to enjoy.

The slave specialty tour reopens in April and runs into October, but during Christmas the slave memorial and other aspects of the lives of the enslaved are incorporated into the presentation.  If traveling from the North using Route 1, you can also visit the new Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial.

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advertise in port of harlem

50th Anniversary of Selma to Montgomery March

selma 50th anniversary 

The 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March occurs in 2015, and Alabama is ready to cash in on the memorialization.

  • Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue, the street leading to the State Capitol and the end point of the march is undergoing a $6.6 million dollar streetscape project.

  • The city of Montgomery has also spent more than one million dollars on new signage, trees, flowers, sidewalks, and images of marchers along the route.

West Africans in Early America Exhibits Needs Your Donation

 benjamin banneker

Thanks!  We exceeded our 2014-2015 fundraising goal of 21 scholarships.  If you sponsored a child’s education for the 2014-2015 school year, you should have received his or her picture and a thank you note from the child.

If you would still like make a 2014 tax-deductible gift, you can add to our success by contributing to the “West Africans in Early America” project.  The project is online and also at:

- The Juffreh Slavery Museum in Juffreh, The Gambia, home of Kunte Kinte
- Timbooktu Bookstore, on the third level, in New Bakau, The Gambia
- The Gambia National Library, Banjul, The Gambia

We also display a fourth hard copy of the exhibit when at events such as at the annual Black Memorabilia Show (Sat, April 11 – Sun, April 12 in Gaithersburg, MD) to help us raise funds.  Below is a picture of the exhibit at the Juffreh Slavery Museum.   The current panels are on:

Your donation (in any amount in multiples of $5) goes towards expanding the “West Africans in Early America” exhibit to include a panel on Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, also known as Job ben Solomon, and Omar Ibn Sayyid.

donate now

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 kankouran west african dance

KanKouran West African Dance Company

KanKouran West African Dance Company
Fort Stanton Recreation Center
1812 Erie Street, SE
Sat, Dec 27, 10:30a-noon, free

Muslims in Service of Our Country
America’s Islamic Heritage Museum
2315 Martin Luther King Jr Ave. SE
Sat, Jan 3, 2p-4p, free

Choir Boy
Studio Theatre
1501 14th Street, NW
Begins Wed, Jan 7-Sun, Feb 22, $44-$88

Be Mo Jazz Holiday Jazz Jam
Caton Castle Lounge
20 South Caton Avenue
Sat, Dec 27,6p, $20

Kwanzaa Celebrations
Washington, DC
Anacostia Community Museum
1901 Fort Place, SE
Fri-Sat, Dec. 26-27, 10:30a-112p, free
Mon, Dec. 29 10:30a-2:30p, free

Reginald F. Lewis Museum
830 E. Pratt St.
Sat, Dec 27, 12p, $5

Gary, IN
Du Bois Library
1835 Broadway
Sat, Dec 27, 3p-5p, free

Apollo Theater
253 West 125th Street,
Sat, Dec 27, 2p and 7:30p, $20-$35

The Africa-American Museum
701 Arch Street
Sat, Dec 27, 10a-5p
Sun Dec 28, noon–5p, free with museum admission

Richmond, VA
2014 Capital City Kwanzaa Festival
The Altria Theater
6 N. Laurel Street
Sat, Dec 27, 1p-9p, free-$7


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