September 18 - October 1, 2014

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Harlem Rens - Off Broadway

harlem rensThe Harlem Rens was one of the most successful all-Black professional basketball teams in the 1920s and 1930s. Now, Layon Gray, writer and director of the Off-Broadway hit "Black Angels Over Tuskegee," is bringing the Rens’ story to the Manhattan stage in The Harlem Rens. “I love telling stories that people don't know about or have forgotten about,” says Gray, who has an obvious passion for Black history.

The Tuskegee play was to have a limited run, but it is now in its fifth year.  Both plays will run simultaneously at The Actor’s Temple Theatre in midtown Manhattan.  Gray is offering Port Of Harlem readers a discount for Harlem Rens. (see below).

Robert Douglass, who was from St. Kitts, formed the Rens in 1923, five years before the Harlem Globetrotters got their start. The team provided African-American men the opportunity to compete against White athletes on the court as equals. They competed against teams across the country and compiled one of the most impressive winning streaks in Basketball history, with 88 consecutive wins in their best season.

Douglass, whom many consider to be the Father of Black Professional Basketball, owned and coached the Rens from 1923 to 1949.  The Basketball Hall of Fame enshrined Douglass in 1972, making him the first African-American so honored.

The Renaissance Casino ballroom in Harlem was their home court and the group’s namesake.  A group of African-Caribbean businessmen, including William Roach, built and operated the ballroom, which they completed in 1924, as part of a larger entertainment hub that included a bustling casino and 900-seat theatre.

Back in the 1920s, the owners would bring portable hoops into the ballroom for the games. On stage, Gray captures the games’ excitement with two hoops on stage. However, he added, “I won’t have too many stage props.”

In addition to having both plays run simultaneously and at the same theater, they will share the same actors. “They will have double duty,” smiled Gary. “They welcome the challenge and love telling stories from our past as much as I do,” he continued.

The Actor’s Temple Theatre is at 339 W. 47th Street between 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue. 

The Harlem Rens
Thu, Oct 2 – Sun, Nov 16
Thu 8p, Sat 8p, and Sun 4p, $39.50-$99

Black Angels Over Tuskegee
Sat 4pm (open run), $39.50-$99

Underground Railroad
Free Press Awards

In the seventh annual awarding of the Underground Railroad Free Press Prizes, the Free Press honored the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Boston television station WGBH, and Underground Railroad program head Owen Muelder as their 2014 winners.

Cincinnati's Freedom Center received the 2014 Free Press Prize in Leadership for establishing its facility, programs, support, and overall national leadership as the world's premiere Underground Railroad institution since the Center's founding in 2004.

Public Broadcasting System (PBS) affiliate WGBH of Boston is winner of the 2014 Hortense Simmons Prize for the Advancement of Knowledge for its innovative creation of an interactive Abolitionist Map of America emphasizing Underground Railroad sites.

Knox College's Owen Muelder is awarded the 2014 Free Press Prize for Preservation for saving the history of the Illinois Underground Railroad, founding and heading Knox College's Galesburg Colony Underground Railroad Freedom Station, and long serving the greater Underground Railroad community.

U.S. Election 2014

Michelle Obama hit the campaign trail in Georgia to campaign for Michelle Nunn (D) who is running against David Perdue (R) for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker had no competition in last Tuesday's primary.  Jeff Bell, a former Ronald Reagan aid, will be his Republican competition November 4. reported that many pundits wonder why people who got health insurance for the first time under the ACA (ObamaCare) are planning to vote for someone who wants to repeal it. The New York Times sent a reporter to Kentucky, which has probably the best-functioning ACA Website in the country, to find out.

In her story, the reporter cites the case of a woman making $9 an hour as a warehouse packer who has multiple serious illnesses and who rarely saw a doctor until she got coverage this year. About the law she said: "I'm tickled to death with it." Yet she is planning to vote for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has led the fight to repeal the law. Her reasoning: "Nobody don't care for nobody no more," which she blames on Obama.

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BZB and the LEAPers

bzb in ghana 

The LEAPers (front row, l to r) including an unidentified lady, Nikki Giovanni, Juanita Britton,Tracy Chiles McGhee, and Kwame Alexander. Donna Marie Smith is between Giovanni and Britton, second row.
Thirty years ago, as she began her travels to Africa, little did Juanita “Busy Bee” Britton know that she would eventually bring to Africa 300 Americans and inspire a program that would change the lives of children in Ghana.  The life changing program is called the Literacy, Empowerment, and Action Project (LEAP) for Ghana. The group includes educators, artists, authors, activists, professors, and students, who call themselves “The LEAPers.”

The work started in 2011, when Britton was enstooled as Queen Mother Nana Adobea Botwe II of Konko Village and began her quest to change the course of history for the small village in the country’s eastern region.  At the charge of the Queen Mother, authors Kwame Alexander and Tracy Chiles McGhee co-founded LEAP as a 501c3 nonprofit in 2012. 

Britton says the group focuses on raising money for scholarships, producing annual literacy camps and literary symposiums, and providing career counseling to young adults. “Unlike in the United States, parents are responsible for paying for their children’s public high school education,” added Chiles McGhee.
The group awarded its first beneficiary, Lydia, a $1,000 scholarship to attend high school.  Before Lydia, no one from her village had attended high school in ten years.  Poet Nikki Giovanni has since joined the effort and helped raised nearly $20,000 for the program.

This year, more than 150 students attended the lively, instructive, and fun literacy camp, while some of their teachers and community volunteers joined to assist. The program also included a literary symposium at the US Embassy, where two Ghanaian professors and two LEAPers shared insights, philosophy, and anecdotes about the impact Maya Angelou made on their lives and work, as well as the literary world. 

While one set of LEAPers worked at the camp, another set off for Ashesi University to engage incoming freshmen about different career paths.  It was a moving event, with the LEAPers and many of the students sharing their individual stories, hopes, dreams, and fears.

The ten-day trip also gave LEAPers time to take in some of Ghana’s cultural attractions and to reflect on their experiences. During a sensitive and eerie tour of the Cape Coast enslavement factory (or castle as it is most commonly referred), one LEAPer remarked, “They tried to destroy us - - and we are still here.” That prompted Alexander to add, “Because we are still here and because we made it, we have a purpose for our lives. We are here (particularly, in Ghana) for a reason.”

Belleville – Smiling Torture


bellevileAs the audience walked into the theater and viewed the stage, one person said, “I love this set.”  Set Designer Debra Booth made us want to sit in Abby (Gillian Williams) and Zack’s (Jacob H. Knoll) living room and get to know them in Belleville, the play named after a diverse Paris neighborhood.

Along with lighting designer Peter West and sound designer Ryan Rumery, the audience was there in Paris as the American couple took showers and as night turned into day.  However, the great set design, lighting, sound effects, and even the (marijuana) smell effects  ended up being just a smiling cover.

Through often funny dialogue - - such as when Abby comes home unexpectedly to hear moaning and groaning and Zack “watching” pornography (You have “a slightly Victorian reaction,” he says to her upon her discovery) - - we learn, despite the comforting backdrop, that they have a dysfunctional relationship. 

Alioune (Maduka Steady) and Amina (Joy Jones) are Abby and Zack’s younger and more financially stable, French speaking landlords.  Similar to a visual artist’s painting white on black (no pun intended), writer Amy Herzog uses the contrast between the two relationships to make the American relationship even more glaring.  Getting to know, Amina, who was born in France, and Alioune, who immigrated from Dakar, was great.  Steady and Jones convincingly played their parts.  

However, as the happy American couple talk turned into torturous drama, I was hoping for an intermission, even a commercial break would have been welcomed.   “It’s a lot for me to process at once,” Abby said as things unfolded.  I felt her pain. 

Interestingly, the lady sitting next to me has seen many of Herzog’s plays and felt that this one did not have well-developed characters.  However, I think I got to know the characters well enough; maybe I got to know Abby and Zack too well.  

Artistic works like Belleville that are creative and unpredictable are why playgoers turn off their formulated TV programs and venture into the theater.  Yes, Belleville was worth missing every television commercial.

Now You Can Select Your Own Seats on Studio's New Website

After launching its new website in April, Studio Theater is introducing the option for you to choose your own seats when purchasing single show tickets.  Also, tickets for all ten shows in the 2014-15 season are on sale. 

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port of harlem gambian education partnership

POH Snippets Survey Results

The results of the survey we sent to all of our readers during the past month are interesting.  We have already started acting on them.

Generally, POH readers see us as not too conservative or too liberal, but just about right on the political/social spectrum.  Even the length of the stories are just about right says most of our readers - - more on this later.

Sadly, the majority of readers don’t forward Snippets to their friends, but we have made it easier for you to do so using any one of a variety of ways via the Sharbare (see below)


However, many readers suggest that their friends sign up for Snippets, which is free.  We appreciate that.

The last question was open-ended (it allowed people to write in whatever they want).  The question asked what we can do to make more people subscribe and read Snippets.  Many readers suggest that we use Facebook, Twitter,and LinkedIn - - we do. Currently, we have more than 450 Facebook “Likes,” and we hope you will “Like” us nowThe most popular Facebook post is now included in every Snippets (See Snippets Readers' Trends.)

Lastly, one reaction consistently appeared as a write-in response:  longer articles.   Therefore, among the layout changes we have already made including having more white space, additional links within the stories, updates on past articles, and newer graphics to create a more modern feel, you will soon begin seeing more in-depth lead articles.

New One Question Survey

Port of Harlem is adding a new department or topic area and wants to know which one you think we should add.

We already have the following departments: Entertainment, Features, Health, Our Space (interior and exterior design), Travel, Praising the Past (History), Publisher’s Point (Editorial), The Middle Passage (Inspirational), and The Other Side (voices of the incarcerated).

What new department or topic area do you think we should add and regularly cover?

Make More - Live Longer

Time magazine released an issue focused on providing answers to many questions including how income affects your life or predict how long you will live.  See the table below to see how people of different income levels tend to have different habits and life spans, and the children from those households have different average SAT scores.  Other interesting tidbits included:

- The cities with the largest gaps between the rich and the poor are, in order:  Atlanta; New Orleans; Miami; Jackson, MS; and Gainesville, FL.  - - all are in the South and with large Black populations.

- The cities with the smallest gaps between the rich and the poor are, in order:  Ogden-Clearfield, UT; York-Hanover, PA; Lancaster, PA; Anchorage, AK; and Reading, PA. - - non-southern cities.

- China is expected to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy in 2019.  However, the per person income in China will still make China a poor country. It is expected that their per capita income will be $16,000, while the US per capita income will be $66,000. Furthermore, with rising incomes, manufactures are expected to move 85 million factory jobs away from China to countries where labor costs will be lower.

- 4 in 100 Americans aged 20 to 59 say they have never had sex


4 yr
smoke death
@ age
200K+ 83% 12% 89 1151
74% 10% 87 1094
60K-99K 56% 15% 85 1036
30K-59K 35% 20% 83 987
Less 29K 20% 28% 79 897

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Studio Theater
1501 14th Street, NW
through Sun, Oct 12, $44-$88

The Millennium Arts Salon
Artist Studio visits with
Alonzo Davis, Dorothy Fall, and Alec Simpson
3704 Otis Street, Mt. Ranier, MD
Sat, Sep 20, 2p-4p, free

The Eve Of Jackie: A Tribute To Jackie Wilson
Bethesda Blues and Jazz
7719 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD
Sat, Sep 20, 8:30p, $17.50-$37.50

H Street Festival
400 to 1400 blocks of H Street NE
Sat, Sep 20, 11a-5p, free

Celia the Queen (film and discussion)
Anacostia Museum
1901 Fort Place, SE
Sun, Sep 21, 2p, free

33rd Annual Hispanic Festival
Lane Manor Park
7601 West Park Drive and University Blvd
Sun, Sep 21,noon-6p,free

History of Blacks in DC   
CR Gibbs
DC Community College, Rm. 709
N. Capitol & H Sts NW
Mon, Sep 22, 11a

cr gibbs

African Americans in Georgetown
CR Gibbs
Georgetown University, Healy Hall
37th & O Sts NW
Tue, Sep 23, 930a

HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C Day
food tasting, latest treatments, support programs
Grubbs Pharmacy SE
1800 MLK Ave, SE
Tue, Sep 23, 11a-3p, free

Baltimore Seafood Festival
Canton Waterfront Park
Sat, Sep 20, 12p-6p, $29, kids under 11, free

Baltimore Book Festival
Inner Harbor
Fri Sep 26-Sun Sep 28
Fri & Sat: noon-8pm, free
Sun: noon-6pm, free

New York
Black Angles Over Tuskegee
Sats,  4p ( open run), $39.50 - $99

The Harlem Chamber Players
Opening Season Concert
St. Mary's Episcopal Church
521 West 126th Street
Sun, Sep 21, 3p, $15, $10 students

Brooklyn Book Festival

Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza
Sun, Sep 21,10a-6p, free

The Harlem Rens
Thu, Oct 2-Sun Nov 16
Thursdays 8p, Saturdays 8p, and Sundays 4p, $39.50 - $99
$30 POH Discount Tickets - Code: “HRSOC”

anacostia art gallery closes 
The Most Popular Page and Searched Word
on the Website for September, to Date 
facebookThe Most Poplar Posting on our Facebook Page Since the Last Snippets
Please LIKE Us on Facebook

jasmine murray 

Jasmine Murray represented Mississippi in the Miss America pageant. Yes, Mississippi had a Black representative.

Last year's winner, Nina Davuluri, was the first Indian-American winner and she represented New York. This year's winner, Kira Kazantsev, became the third New Yorker in a row to win the title. Of course, the most famous Miss America also represented New York and became the first Black Miss America in 1984: Vanessa Williams - Miss America Forever.

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