In like a lion, out like a lamb—or so we hope. Women’s History Month, the Ides of March, St. Patrick’s Day and everything in between, the March winds are upon us so hold on to your hats.
If you are one of those early birds ready to come out of hibernation, Run Shot Filmworks, sponsors of the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival, has tickets and apparel available for their 2018 summer season. The film fest will run from Aug. 6 to Aug. 11, but that doesn’t stop you from getting your T-shirts or tickets to many of the screenings. Be the first. For more information, check out the website http://www.mvaaff.com/. Just thinking about it will warm you up.
Those feeling the warmth were the more than 400 guests who attended the 15th annual Palm Beach Hot Pink Luncheon & Symposium. Proceeds from the event, totaling $1,074,625 according to Leonard Lauder, BCRF honorary co-chairman and son of the late perfume and beauty products magnate, the esteemed Estee Lauder, a record-breaking sum for the region. The event was held at The Breakers Palm Beach and hosted by Aerin Lauder, with special guest Joan Lunden. The fundraiser has supported research grants in the areas of tumor biology, metastasis, heredity and ethnicity, survivorship, lifestyle and prevention and treatment.
Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first Black female doctor in the state; Jean-Michel Basquiat, innovative artist of the 1980s; and Jeremiah Hamilton, New York’s first Black millionaire, were just a few of those recognized and honored during the Black History Month, Green-Wood trolley tour exploring New York City’s history of diversity, progress and activism. Led by Green-Wood historian Jeff Richman, the tour, all taking place in the borough of Brooklyn, explored the life and accomplishments of many prominent Black New Yorkers, as well as several abolitionists who fought for freedom in America.
Counted among the institutions that celebrated Black History Month was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Father Patrick Smith, pastor of St. Augustine parish in Washington, D.C., the mother church of African-American Catholics, attended the service to deliver the homily. The mass also observed the National Day of Prayer for Africans and African-Americans alike. The music was phenomenally performed by a combined choir comprising members from parishes in the archdiocese under the direction of Dr. BrVon Neal, the Grammy Award-winning musician who is director of music at St. Charles Borromeo parish, located in our very own Harlem.
The mass was sponsored by the Office of Black Ministry and was coordinated by Brother Tyrone Davis, C.F.C., who is executive director of the archdiocese. Many of you might recall I was a staunch member of St. Charles. Although my loyalties still lie with the faith and St. Charles, I now attend Holy Trinity Church. I am mesmerized by the stain glass portrayal of the saints and apostles that line the upper rafters of the church. The homilies are very inspiring, as is a book made available for worshippers’ perusal that features of Saint of the Day. Talk about what people do for love, what the saints did for their faith is amazing.
Also amazing are the members of ArchCare Alternate Care Site, a day center located on Staten Island, where a group of patriotic seniors sat for three tedious hours, one afternoon a week, hand-knotting rosaries to be sent to the U.S. troops in combat zones overseas. The purpose of the project, which was a two-month undertaking, was to give soldiers a spiritual lift while they were fighting in the combat zone. Specially designed, each bead on the cord is hand-knotted so the enemy cannot hear the soldier at prayer. Leaving no detail uncovered, the rosaries are made in camouflage colors with the cross made of plastic, “because metal crosses can reflect the light.”
Denise Spencer, 65, who was among the rosary project participants stated, “I was asked, and I was happy to do it. Everybody needs some form of encouragement, especially when you’re alone. The rosary is a form of comfort.”
For those of you who knew Sister Mary Margaret, who taught at Cardinal Spellman High School from 1963 to 1972, she died Jan. 8. She was 102 years old. Rest in peace.
“Black Panther,” the cinematic rage, is now playing across the country in 4,020 theaters. It is also playing in major theaters in China, Japan and Russia. To date, the movie has globally earned almost $170 million, including approximately $52 million from Imax locations around the world.
Sending Black History Month 2018 off with a proper salute was the airing of the Firelight Media, the nonprofit filmmaking company founded by filmmaker Stanley Nelson and his wife, writer Marcia Smith, documentary, “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities.” The program has been airing throughout the state of South Carolina as well as simultaneously on PBS.
Once again, Nelson and Smith have emblazoned themselves in the annals of historians as they vividly portray a snapshot of African-American and American life. This time it was the African-American story on the hardship of obtaining a right to education. From the onset of slavery, where even a white person could be hung for teaching a slave how to read, through the rugged huts where Black people gathered in secret yearning to educate themselves, the documentary has a plethora of photos and commentary from those who know the story all too well.
In a historical sequence, the film depicts the atrocities of a separate but equal education, which was very much separate but far from equal. In one scene, photos show a Black male student in a white school was made to attend class by sitting outside of the classroom. He was forbidden to ask questions or participate in discussions and had little to no access to the professor. We have all heard of the Brown v. Board of Education trial, and of the psychological effects that discriminatory education had on young children through research conducted by Kenneth and Mamie Clark.
Yet, the film reveals so much more of hardships Black people endured to get an education; the sit-ins conducted by students of Bennett College; the distractions and setbacks caused by even those of our own race, such as Booker T. Washington, that were constant obstacles set before Black people in their attempt to receive an education. No matter what, as Maya Angelou so succinctly said, “And Still I Rise.” So it extends to education: No matter what they say, tell them we are rising.
Until next week…kisses.