What a solemn week this has been. It was the week of the new moon, which means there was no visible moon in the sky giving us night light and glow. The planet of communications, Mercury, went retrograde for three weeks, meaning expect snarls and delays, double check dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s, don’t buy any new electronics, and if you can help it, don’t sign any new contracts until after June 11.
Carl Lewis, husband of Dottie, a Queens resident and member of the Hillbillies, died, as did Laverne Cook, a Lenox Terrace resident famous for her spiked eggnog at Christmas parties.
May 19 marked the birthday anniversary of Malcolm X. He would have been 90 years old. So much has happened since his death. Much of what he prophesied would happen if we, as a culture, as a society, collectively as human beings, didn’t take heed and listen, has occurred. Just look at the condition of America. Racism and ignorance still exist. Black people are still struggling, fighting for the right to vote and fighting for equality. There is disparity, hunger and poverty, and we haven’t even touched on the violence that takes place everyday across color lines, generations, sexual orientations, demographics and geography. As bad as things were in the 1960s, at least we were a lot closer to utopia than we are now. Malcolm must be spinning in his grave.
Yet, Malcolm continues to be recognized and remembered. “An Evening of Discussion. The Topic: Malcolm X” was presented by International Communications Association, owners and operators of the Dwyer Cultural Center. The panel discussion between Herb Boyd, author of “By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented” and editor of “The Diary of Malcolm X,” and A. Peter Bailey, author of “Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, the Master Teacher: a Memoir,” was the first time Boyd and Bailey participated in a panel discussion together. Bob Slade, co-host of “Open Line” on WBLS, was the evening’s moderator.
Boyd and Bailey both have a history of sorts with Malcolm, having been followers and documentarians of Malcolm’s life, legacy, teachings and beliefs. The achievements of the two men are illustrious and inspiring. Readers should take the time to research their backgrounds and spread the word that we have learned men in our midst.
In attendance were ICA President Cliff Frazier; ICA Vice President Ademola Olugebefola; ICA board members Vincent Davis, Russell Shuler, Rafee Kamall and Neema Barnette; Minerva Diaz, Dwyer’s director of programs and operations; and Glenn Hunter, executive director and co-founder of Harlem Cultural Archives. HCA videotaped the event, and I invite everyone to go to their website to check it out.
Radio station WBAI played excerpts from Malcolm’s various recordings. One particular segment I happened to catch while driving to pick up Julia after school was “Ballots or Bullets.” I vividly pictured the photo of Malcolm that appeared on the album cover of that recording, as my father had the record and would play it Sunday mornings after breakfast. That was his idea of church.
Funny how Malcolm had said America is the only country that hasn’t had a bloody revolution since the Civil War; here in this country we have the right to vote for our leaders and representatives. (Malcolm would have been so proud to see Barack Obama voted in as the president of the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world.) He went on to say that when we don’t exercise our right to vote, or that right is taken away or denied to citizens of the Black race, well then, there are bullets … you get the picture.
Unlike the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm was shunned by many who feared he was too radical and violent and preached hatred. Nothing could be further from the truth. Malcolm’s position was that a demand for civil rights is limited to social changes and is sought from those in civil authority, who are often the same people who deny others their rights. The demand for human rights, on the other hand, is a demand to be treated and respected as an equal human being, and whose cause should be taken before a humanitarian court, that being the United Nations.
Of course, what would any recognition of this most revered, honorable man be without the showing of Spike Lee’s epic movie “Malcolm X”? Every time I watch this movie, I am in awe of what a humungous undertaking the making of this movie was for Lee, and that we the people should give him our own version of an Academy Award, with all of the pomp and circumstance of the Oscars. And we should do it by any means necessary.
Finding the means necessary was the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, to present their 31st anniversary awards gala, “Empowering Community, Engaging Leadership, Ensuring Justice,” held at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers. Mistresses of ceremonies were Taa R. Grays, president, and Paula T. Edgar, president-elect. Invocation was giving by Cecilia Loving, founder and spiritual leader of SPIRITMUV. The Black national anthem, “Life Every Voice and Sing,” was performed by Sonya Johnson, accompanied by the Harlem Symphony.
Presentation of scholarships was made by Joseph Drayton, chair of Friends of the MBBA. Awards recipients were Dawn Reid-Green and Zenith Taylor, Bar Leaders of the Year; Eric Adams, Public Servant of the Year; Greg Harmon (posthumous), Member of the Year; Michele A. Roberts, Trailblazer of the Year; Ackneil “Trey” M. Muldrow III, Private Practitioner of the Year; and Reginald Rasch, Corporate Counsel of the Year.
Seen among the crowd of 500 or more was Ray Bruce, journalist Audrey Bernard and Sheila Abdus-Salaam, associate judge of the Court of Appeals. Abdus-Salaam is another person who, like Boyd and Bailey, has shown what you can do when you apply your mind, heart and soul to something. According to her bio, “She was born in Washington, D.C., in 1952 and educated in its public schools. She graduated from Barnard College in 1974 and received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1977. Upon graduation, she began her legal career as a staff attorney at East Brooklyn Legal Services, Corporation A (1977-1980); served as an assistant attorney general in the New York State Department of Law, Civil Rights and Real Estate Financing Bureaus (1980-1988); and served as general counsel for the New York City Office of Labor Services (1988-1991). She began her judicial career in 1992, having been elected in 1991 to the Civil Court of the City of New York. In 1993, she was elected to the Supreme Court, New York County, and was re-elected in 2007. She was appointed an associate justice of the Appellate Division, First Department in March 2009 by Governor David A. Paterson. Her appointment to the Court of Appeals by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was confirmed by the state Senate on May 6, 2013. She lives in New York City.”
P.S. It seems that Adams, currently Brooklyn borough president and a prolific speaker, is slowly but steadily working his way up to run for mayor of New York City. Remember his name.
The Harlem Shakespeare Festival 2015, My Image Studio Theater, Debra Ann Byrd/Take Wing and Soar Productions and Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theatre Group present the all-female concert performance of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” The one-night-only production will take place Monday, June 8 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., at Madiba Harlem at My Image Studios (formerly known as Mist), 46 W. 116th St. The show, directed by Petronia Paley, starring Trezana Beverley, featuring classical actresses Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Debra Ann Byrd, Vinie Burrows, Nehassaiu DeGennes, Amy Driesler, Patricia Floyd, Mary Linda Greene, Mary Hodges, Aixa Kendrick, Mizan Kirby, Liz Morgan, Maya Posey, Michele Shay, Akilah Wilson and Natasha Yannacanedo, is the story of the ill-fated Caesar and his epic tale of love, war, loyalty, friendship, power and revenge. Tickets are available online at www.harlemshakespearefest.org For more information, please call 212-926-2550.
Until next week … kisses.