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April 30 May 13, 2015

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Black Canadians in the American Civil War

my brother's keeperAward-winning Canadian author Bryan Prince has turned out another in his growing series of Underground Railroad books, this one perhaps his best yet. His recently released My Brother's Keeper: African Canadians and the American Civil War is a history of American Underground Railroad freedom seekers who had reached safety in Canada before the American Civil War and their going back across the border and helping the Union to fight the war.

Through the stories of individuals, My Brother's Keeper portrays shared experiences of 1,100 African-Canadian American Civil War Veterans.  Said Prince, “I wanted to know about every single one of them.”

It strikes him as incredible how people who found freedom and started a new life in Canada risked it all to go back and fight. “It just shows how deeply slavery was engrained in their being and their desire to do something against it. It meant so much to them to go back and be a part of eradicating what they had come from,” he added.

Bryan Prince is among North America's foremost researchers and authors on the Underground Railroad, slavery, and abolition. His previous books include One More River to Cross, A Shadow on the Household and I Came as a Stranger. Prince and his wife Shannon are in demand throughout North America as lecturers and were recipients of the 2011 Hortense Simmons Prize for Advancement of Knowledge awarded by Underground Railroad Free Press.

Bryan Prince is a descendent of Underground Railroad freedom seekers. Shannon Prince is Curator of the Buxton Museum and National Historic Site. The couple lives near North Buxton, Ontario.

From Our Archives: Afro-North Americans Celebrate Canadian Heritage

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Does Economic Inequality Matter?

kevin wallters creole cafeThe data on economic inequality and wealth gaps in America are alarming. It is alarming that in 2007 (latest figures available), there were over 27 million businesses in the US, but Blacks owned 1.92 million businesses or only 7.1%. Whites owned approximately 22.6 million businesses or 12X more businesses than Blacks.

The total receipts, with and without employees, of White owned businesses was $10.240 trillion or 75X greater than Black businesses’ total receipts, with and without employees, which was $135 billion. Moreover, in 2007, the average Black business receipts, with and without employees, was $70.6K compared to the average White owned business, with and without employees, being $453.2K or 6.5X more revenue than a Black business.

Is this inequality the core of American culture and inextricably linked to capitalism? If so, then to what system or social construct should Blacks incorporate to compete against and obliterate American economic inequality?

Note: The US Census Bureau is expected to release new data on Black-owned business in August 2015. 1.

POHGEP Facebook Friends

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Yankuba Senghore teams up with POHGEP

The Port of Harlem Gambian Education Partnership (POHGEP) has found a new American partner for its Facebook program and the American and Gambian groups are ready to start chatting on Facebook.  “I expect that the students will come to understand and appreciate each other's culture and share their different experiences,” says Yankuba Senghore, who will administer the American side of the virtual exchange.  Senghore is a Gambian spending a year in the USA with an exchange program organized by the New Hope Academy in Landover Hills, MD.

“The project is important because it helps the students to become exposed to a diverse culture, educational disciplines, have social interactions, and to generally learn from others’ culture," added Keluntang Drammeh, Math Teacher at Kotu Secondary School.  Drammeh is the program’s administrator for the Gambian side.

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 in the USA. The project provides both groups the opportunity to experience a different culture using contemporary technology.

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Should African Americans Endorse Whites over Blacks?

julianne malveauxTwo prominent Black Maryland officials – Montgomery County Executive Issiah Leggett and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III – have endorsed Congressman Chris Van Hollen, a White, over Black Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards in the race to replace retiring Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. . .

This may seem like a local story, but it has national implications. Both Edwards and Van Hollen are likely to seek contributions from all over the country. Furthermore, the possibility of having an African American woman in the Senate is an opportunity for African American women’s issues to be raised on the Senate floor. Finally, Edwards’ presence on committees dealing with work, healthcare, and banking will bring a much-needed perspective to a Senate that is 96 percent White. . .

Apparently the “one drop” rule is obsolete, unless a mixed race person collides with the wrong officer of the law. Still, I think that race should matter in endorsements, especially when history is about to be made. Rushern Baker and Isiah Leggett owe their constituents a more substantive explanation than the ones they have offered.

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From Our Archives:  Talking Very Loud and Saying Something

Murder Ballad Extended A Theater Experience

Washington’s Studio Theater has already extended the run for the rock musical Murder Ballad until Sunday, May 31. And, I can see why.

As I was witnessing the fast-paced performance, I was being reminded why I prefer live theater over TV or a movie.  But, what tops Murder Ballad off dramatically is that the 14th Street theater creates an unforgettable experience by hosting the play in a makeshift bar.

I am not a fan or wailing guitars,  but the grand rock-infused experience begins when play goers walk up flights of stairs to the bar at the theater.  The delightful Jermiah Jackson was our “real-life” bartender.  (The bar opens one hour before the show and reopens after the 80-minute performance.)   It was the theater’s artistic director David Muse’s idea to include the audience in a “real” bar.

The play itself is about good relationships turning into a love triangle and is set in New York, partially in a bar.  The situation unfolds, drama erupts, and someone, yes, is murdered. The actors/singers, Sara (Christine Dwyer), Michael (Tommar Wilson), Tom (Cole Burden), and Narrator (Anastacia McCleskey) sings and performs their roles convincingly and with the functional bar setting, their performances provide a very exciting, three-dimensional, theater experience.

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Your Rights When
Videoing the Police

videoing the police 

The question about Americans right to film and take pictures of police officers in the line of duty has resurfaced in the aftermath of the Walter Scott’s killing in North Charleston, South Carolina.  The answer according to multiple courts across the country is yes

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murder ballad at studio theater
Muder Ballad at Studio Theater

A Dawn Like Thunder:
Africa, Black America, & World War II (70th Anniversary)
CR Gibbs
Greenbelt Library
11 Crescent Road
Tue, Apr 28, 7p, free

Murder Ballad
Studio Theater
1501 14th Street, NW
Through Sun, May 31, $45-$80

Dounouya: Global Sounds on the Hill
- Feedel Band
The Hill Center
921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Sun, May 10, 4p-6p, $12-$15

Center Stage
Wed, May 6–Sun, Jun 14, $

Solomons Maritime Festival
Calvert Marine Museum
14200 Solomons Island Road
Solomons, MD
Sat, May 2, 10a–5p, free

First Annual Pathfinders Kentucky Derby Party
7165 Lounge
7165 Germantown Avenue
Sat, May 2,4p-8p, $20


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