Here we are, in the merry merry month of May. This month is the time we celebrate our mothers, May graduates and all of those who have served and died for our country as members of the military. Memorial Day is also a good time to recognize the cost of war.
Doing just that is nationally prominent veterans advocate Lois Pope, who has created, funded and produced the new documentary film, “VA: The Human Cost of War.” The film, directed by the award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns, takes a macroscopic look at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from its historic conception to the relationship it has with today’s veterans. Intertwined with personal stories that bring tears to the viewer’s eyes, the film depicts the realities of life after the battlefield and the unseen psychological toll war takes on the soldiers, their families, loved ones and society. In Pope’s words, “The documentary explores the social contract between veterans and society, exposing the endless cycle of bureaucracy, apathy and underfunding that has directly contributed to the harrowing rate at which veterans commit suicide in the U.S., which is estimated to be 22 per day.” This tragic outcome, Pope feels, is the true cost of war.
Pope is a noted philanthropist and founder of the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., which stands for Leaders in Furthering Education, and the Disabled Veterans LIFE Memorial Foundation. Through these vehicles, Pope created the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which stands in Washington, D.C. The memorial is the nation’s first permanent public tribute to the 4 million living disabled American veterans and all those who have died. Although most of the WWII vets have died, there are more than 10 million vets over age 65. According to Burns, “The ambition of the film is to shed light on one of the most misunderstood organizations in the U.S. The film is an attempt to provide the public with more background about the institution behind the headlines.” The VA is the second largest government agency and second largest part of the federal budget. It trains 70 percent of the doctors and the overwhelming majority of nurses in the U.S.
As always, it’s Showtime at the Apollo. Welcoming the audience to a sneak peek at what the 2017-18 season will hold was CEO and President Jonelle Procope, Executive Director Kamiliah Forbes and host for the evening, Don Lemon. The word Apollo has always been synonymous with quality entertainment, and next season’s lineup will carry on the tradition. Teasing the audience with a taste of what is to come were Breakin’ Convention, who will present an international festival of Hip-Hop Dance Theatre, pianist Matthew Whitaker and Soundtrack ’63 featuring Soul Science Lab, just to name a few.
Look for an exciting program featuring Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” directed by Forbes and music by Jason Moran; Ballet Hispánico’s “Con Brazos Abiertos,” choreographed by Michelle Manzanales; the Apollo Music Café and Comedy Club; “We Shall Not Be Moved,” directed by Bill T. Jones, music by Daniel Bernard Roumain; “Libretto” by Marc Bamuthi Joseph (my pick); the Kwanzaa celebration featuring Abel R. Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre; Coca-Cola Winter Wonderland; the MLK Tribute; and as always, Amateur Night.
Joining forces were Michelle Stent and Marcella Maxwell of the Greater New York Chapter of the Links, Inc., to present The Greater New York Links Community Partnership program workshop, “How to Navigate the Senior Housing Scene in New York City, Senior Housing Opportunities.” The conversation with Joe Breed, former executive director, St. Margaret’s House, was held at the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging, Hunter/CUNY (2180 Third Ave.). Breed discussed the different options and types of housing for seniors in New York City, along with how to identify and find these option, and “get a foot in the door.”
The New York City Police Department, Police and Community Fellowship Breakfast, hosted by the 28th Precinct and the 28th Precinct Community Council, took place most recently at Canaan Baptist Church. Honored were Maria Davis, HIV/Aids outreach activist; Luis Lloyd (Luigi), auxiliary officer, 28th Precinct; Natalie Barbour, principal, 28th Precinct; Casper R. Lassiter, director, Dunlevy Milbank; Cortney Allen, police officer, 28th Precinct; Alberto Pizzaro, detective, 28th Precinct; and Ronnie Cauchi, police officer, 28th Precinct. The Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Johnson Sr. senior pastor, Canaan Baptist Church, gave the invocation and closing remarks. The memorial tribute was made in honor of the late NYPD Lieutenant John Quinn, Lizzie S. Brock and Delores Simmons. Keynote speaker was the Rev. Ron Sullivan, pastor, Christian Parish for Spiritual Renewal Church, who reiterated the necessity for forming good relations between the cops on the beat and civilians. Award presentations were made by Leman J. McGhee, with remarks by Deputy Inspector Christopher McIntosh, commanding officer, 28th Precinct, and Community Affairs Officers Ariel Castillo and Kenya Hooks. Among those in attendance were Kelsey Stevens, Maurita Monroe and Cleveland Manley.
The Metropolitan Black Bar Association celebrated its 33rd anniversary with a gala honoring Jurist of the Year, the Hon. William F. Kuntz, United States District Court Eastern District of New York; Public Servant of the Year, Alphonso B. David, counsel to the governor; Private Practitioner of the Year, Joseph Drayton, partner, Cooley, LLP; and Trailblazer of the Year, Nate Saint-Victor, executive director, Morgan Stanley. A presentation of the Member of the Year Award was made by MBBA President Paula T. Edgar posthumously to Kenneth P. Thompson in memoriam to Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam. Although sponsors were from all of the top law firms of the city, including Proskauer Rose; Skadden, Arps; Paul Weiss; White & Case; and Charles Leonard Mitchell, Esquire, it was the individual patrons who donated the most to raise scholarship funds for deserving law school students. Pier 60, where the event was held provided the perfect backdrop for jurist such as Tanya Kennedy, Debbie James, New York County Clerk Milton Tingling and others too dedicated to embracing the rule of law to mention to mix and mingle. Kuntz, who spoke most eloquently as he acknowledged the late Court of Appeals Judge Shelia Abdus-Salaam, stated, “She argued with wit and grace.” Kuntz, who grew up in Bed-Stuy and the Polo Ground projects, concluded his acceptance speech, before racing off to celebrate his 39th wedding anniversary, with the thoughtful words, “God Bless you, the MBBA and God Bless the United States of America.”
Until next week … kisses.