February 20 - March 5, 2013


Three Distinct Afro-Colombian Communities

benkos biohoDuring the summer of 2013, at the annual Smithsonian Annual Folk Festival, with the theme of "One World, Many Voices," the folk festival highlighted languages that are struggling to stay alive. Palenquero was one of the languages. The language is spoken in San Basillio, Colombia and is composed of Kikongo, with origins in greater Congo, Angola, and Spain.

At the festival were three young representatives from Colombia, who reside in San Basilio de Palenque, where they strive to keep Palenquero from becoming a forgotten dialect. The village is along the Caribbean coast, not far from Cartagena.

During the summer, I visited the village. It is famous for being the first free town of Cimarrones, enslaved Africans who had escaped from their Spanish masters and lived as freemen. Benkos Bioho established the town in 1605. 

In the town's square, there is a statue of Bioho breaking his chains and reaching for freedom. Many believe Bioho was born in present-day Guinea Bissau and taken to Colombia by Portuguese slave traders.

The village has a population of about 3,000 and is an excellent place to spend Columbus Day weekend when residents celebrate their culture with a spirited drum festival. People of African descent travel from all over Colombia and as far away as Africa to attend the festivities.

Aside from the celebrations, you can learn the history of Palenquero at the House of Palenquero Knowledge. While at the museum, you can observe women walking about effortlessly with goods on their heads while selling fruits and goodies from hand carried buckets as if they were in Africa.
first baptist churchAfter the festival, I returned to Cartagena and visited Tierra Bomba, the second distinct Afro-Colombian community I visited. Tierra Bomba is an island about ten minutes from Cartagena by boat. The fishing village's residents are Afro Colombians who largely make their living as domestics in Cartagena and as fishermen who supply the mainland with fish. The island is a very calm place, but is in urgent need of government assistance because the shore line is being destroyed by the effects of cruise ships visiting Cartagena. The Afro-Colombians do not have deeds to their land and many believe that the government wants to eventually extend tourism to the island and the government will force them to move.

The third community, San Andres, is about an hour flight from Cartagena and also has a very interesting history. Though it is part of a Spanish-speaking, Catholic country most of the residents speak English and are Baptist. (Photo of First Baptist Church, left) The Afro-Colombians here are primarily of Jamaican descent whom the British brought to Columbia in the about 1633, as property, to grow tobacco and cotton.

It’s easy from afar to see Afro-Colombians as being the same. However, a closer look easily reveals a diverse and exciting community worth visiting.

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Underground Railroad Award Nominations

For the seventh year since 2008, the Underground Railroad Free Press will award prizes for contemporary Underground Railroad leadership, preservation, and advancement of knowledge, the top honors in the international Underground Railroad community. Individuals and organizations from any country are eligible to be nominated. Nominations are easy - - just download a nomination form from the Underground Railroad Free Press website, fill it in, and email it to Publisher@urrFreePress.com

Taste of Tanzania Cookbook Winners

Sandra Jowers-Barber and James Stith were the winners of "Taste of Tanzania: Modern Swahili Recipes for the West" (Miroki Publishing, $34.95).  Vacylla Williams won tickets to see Freda Payne in "Ella Fitzgerald – First Lady of Song" - - which is open until Sunday, March 16.

Thanks to all who entered the drawings and who helped us celebrate our 10th year on the Internet! Please invite you friends to subscribe to Snippets, it’s free.

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Charles Green’s Top 10 Presentation Tips

charles green 
You may have gone to a trade or consumer expo and was marveled how this guy smiled and talked about the products at his booth. You may have wondered how that company found that employee and what else does he do at that company. That marvelous, smart-talking employee may have been Charles Green, who was hired by the company to do the great presentations. (Also, see “Watch your 6 options for better presentation skills” on Green’s website.)

Green presented his top 10 presentation tips at the 40 Plus of Greater Washington, a group dedicated to helping mature job seekers find and get jobs.   Presentation skills, says Green, “is an art, not science, so the results are not always guaranteed unlike putting H, 2, and O together and always getting water.” However, to put your best foot forward, he suggests:

  1. State your key point at the start.
  2. Engage with more eye contact.
  3. Talk more about them – less about you.
  4. Communicate only one key message.
  5. Slow down and pause more.
  6. Compliment your audience.
  7. Remove jargon, acronyms, and clichés.
  8. Use clear words and short sentences.
  9. Bring passion to your presentation.
Recap your key point after the question and answer period. 

Community Activists Responds to Latest Florida Case

niaz kasravi 

Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis:

"Tomorrow is my boy's 19th birthday. I pray we will celebrate not only him but a just and righteous verdict," tweeted McBath early Saturday. However, on Saturday night, the jury, made up of four White females, two Black females, four White males, an Asian female, and a Hispanic male, could not reach a concensus on the first-degree murder charge against Michael Dunn for the murder of Davis.

Niaz Kasravi, NAACP Criminal Justice Director:

"This case is a perfect example of how stand your ground laws are illogical and often lead to tragic outcomes, especially to people of color who often end up on the wrong side of the weapon," stated Dr. Niaz Kasravi, NAACP Criminal Justice Director. "To help prevent future tragedies such as the death of Jordan Davis, we must repeal stand your grounds laws and bring back common sense self-defense policies in every state across this country."

Al Sharpton, Natioal Action Network

"Though [Dunn] was convicted for attempted murder and shooting into the car, the value of Jordan Davis' life was not addressed by this verdict.  The mistrial further sends a chilling effect to parents in the 23 states that have the 'stand your ground' law or similar laws."

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Theo Hodge, Jr. M.D.


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2014 - 2015 African History and Culture Lecture Series - Free

22nd Anniversary Celebration
1524 U St, NW
Sat, Feb 22, 1p-7p, free

Black Indians: An American Story
Film Narrated by James Earl Jones
Watkins Park
301 Watkins Park Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD
Sat, Feb 22, 1p, free

Film:  Brother Outsider
Anacostia Museum
1901 Fort Place, SE
Thu, Feb 27, 11a-1p, Free

Second Annual Benjamin Banneker
Jazz & Poetry Fest
George Washington University
Jack Morton Audtorium
805 21st Street, NW
Thu, Feb. 27, 7-10p, $25

Blackbird Griots
African Continuum Theatre Company
Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street, NE
Fri, Feb 21, 7:30p, $
Sat, Feb 22, 4:00p, $

Free Food Produce Giveaway Day
In Sponsorship with Islamic Relief USA
Islamic Heritage Museum
2315 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE
Sat, Feb 22, 11a-3p, free

Water by the Spoonful
Studio Theater
Wed, Mar 5 – Sun, Apr 13, $

Middle Passage Ceremonies &
Port Markers Project Info Session
Village Square Café
Village of Cross Keys
66 Village Square
Thu, Feb 20, 5:30p-7p, free

Tell It with Pride
The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial
Massachusetts Historical Society
Sun, Feb 23 – Mon, May 26

New York (Greater)
Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom
The Harlem Chamber Players
Irondale Center
85 South Oxford Street
Brooklyn, NY
Fri, Feb 21 – Sat, Mar 1, $

45th NAACP Image Awards
TV One
Sat, Feb 22, 9p ET/PT tape-delayed 

Black Judge Jumps into Marriage Equality Debate

 arenda l wright allen
US District Judge Arenda L.Wright Allen struck down as unconstitutional Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage last Thursday saying the country has “arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.”

Wright Allen opened her decision with a quote from Mildred Loving, who was at the center of the Virginia case that the Supreme Court used in 1967 to strike down laws banning interracial marriage. Loving was also Black and married to a White; their union was illegal in Virginia at the time. The only states that continued to ban such marriages in 1967 were in the southeastern part of the country, mostly former Confederate slave-holding states.

Linking the two issues, the Philadelphia native wrote, “However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.”

Massachusetts became the first state to approve same-sex marriage in 2004, 17 states and the District of Columbia now allow gay marriage, most of them clustered in the Northeast. None of them are in the old slave-holding Confederacy that fought against the North over the enslavement of Africans and states’ rights.

On the recommendation of Virginia Senators Jim Webb and Mark R. Warner, Wright Allen was nominated to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by President Barack Obama. The United States Senate confirmed Wright Allen in a resounding 96–0 vote in May 2011, making her the first African- American woman on the federal Bench in Virginia.

While some conservatives have called for her impeachment, her ruling is in line with those of other federal judges, including one nominated by a Republican, and with those in other conservative states, specifically Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Kentucky that have sided with same-sex marriage proponents since the Supreme Court struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages conducted in the states that allow them.

Besides opening with a quote from Loving, the graduate of historically Black North Carolina Central University wrote, “The ultimate exercise of our freedom is choice . . . Ultimately, this is consistent with our nations traditions of freedom.”

She is married to Delroy Allen, a retired Jamaican-American soccer player, who became a stay at home dad upon learning they have an autistic child.
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POHGEP Facebook Friends – A Modern Day Pen Pal Program Opens


The POHGEP Facebook Friends group is a project of the Port Of Harlem Gambian Education Partnership (POHGEP). POHGEP has been connecting people since 2002 and proud that this project connects students at Kotu Senior Secondary School in Kotu, The Gambia with students at Cultural Leadership in Saint Louis, Missouri USA. The project provides both groups the opportunity to experience a different culture using contemporary technology.

Visit www.pohgep.net for more information at POHGEP, a 501(c) 3.


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