People are slowly pouring back into the city as the 2018 summer vacation days are about to come to a close. This return, however, was not before one last bash hosted by Walter Braswell at his Martha’s Vineyard home.
Among the throngs were Sheryl Henry Douglass, interior designer Stanley Stutley, Gwynne Wilcox with mom, Dr. Susan Wilcox, Walter Lowe and Cheryl Wills, Kendell and LaVerne Flowers and others too delighted to mention. Missing from the Vineyard this year were Ann Patrick and Tina and Patty Page, and we weren’t sure whether Bert and Michele Belasco made it this year. Sigh!
Topping off the social scene was the eighth annual Martha’s Vineyard Literary Brunch. Held at—where else?—Lola’s Island Inn. The literati met to hear this year’s selected writers speak about their latest tomes. The morning began with a welcoming introduction by Corbert Narcisse, managing director and head of International Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management; Sandra L. Richards, managing director and Head of Global Sports, Entertainment & Segment Sales and Engagement Group, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management; and Dawn L. Davis, VP and publisher of 37 Ink, an imprint of Atria and Simon & Schuster, Inc. Appearing were Beverly Bond, author of “Black Girls Rock!: Owning Our Magic, Rocking Our Truth”; Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of “Heads of the Colored People: Stories”; Tayari Jones, author of “An American Marriage: A Novel”; and Kwame Alexander, author of “The Crossover.”
Each author took the podium to a robust round of applause, giving a brief synopsis of the book, along with a dash of philosophy. Thompson-Spires earned a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Illinois. She’s “smart and super funny.”
Jones shared that “small acts of kindness aid the creative process.” She seeks to find where the story is in a conflict when both sides are right.
Bond proved to be forceful and determined as she had the audience ask one another, “What is your superpower? What is your Black girl magic? I answered that question by saying, “Simply being Black.”
Alexander, who attended with his wife Stephanie, enthralled the audience with stories from his time as a student at Virginia Tech. Recalling the days when his English teacher was Nikki Giovanni and told him, she found him “uninteresting.” Today, they are the best of friends.
The event concluded with a Champagne toast and book signing. Everyone left looking forward to the ninth literary brunch. Thank goodness for Labor Day. That holiday makes the transition just a little bit easier—just a little bit.
There is still plenty to look forward to as we embark on, dare I say it, the fall season. One of the latest must-haves is the Culture Pass, which provides free admission to some of the city’s most fascinating cultural habitats. The pass makes it easy to borough hop throughout the city: There is the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, Wave Hill public garden and cultural center in the Bronx and the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling in Harlem, just to name a few.
Of course, there is the Schomburg Center, where the staff is busy putting together an exciting fall line-up of events and celebrations. A conversation and celebration featuring the rerelease of author James Baldwin’s children’s book, “Little Man, Little Man,” will take place Thursday, Sept. 13. The discussion will be followed by a reception, and there are only a limited number of reserved seats, available for members. You know what that means. Sign up to become a member and quickly make your reservation. Future events include author talks with Annette Gordon-Reed, cocktails with the artist-in-residence and a lecture on estate planning.
For all of the ale lovers among us, the Circle Line will set sail every Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22 to Nov. 11 with the Oktoberfest cruise to Bear Mountain. There will be a full day cruise up the Hudson featuring traditional German beer and food. For a limited time only, use the code EARLYBIRD for 25 percent off the price. Although I am only good for one glass of beer, and I am not particularly fond of German food—unless it’s German chocolate cake—I would love to join in the fun because I am sure it will be lively. And what better way to view the fall foliage? Going up into the mountain to view the change in color of the leaves is magnificent.
I don’t cover the jazz beat because that is colleague Ron Scott’s domain. I won’t get into the wonderful line-up at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola ninth annual Generations in Jazz Festival. Appearing over the course of 39 nights, are more than 175 musicians and 31 sets of multigenerational jazz musicians. I also don’t want to talk about fashion because that is colleague Renee Minus-White’s beat, but I have to say that the September issues of 12 fashion magazines will feature12 Black cover girls (Beyoncé, Rihanna, Yara Shahidi, Tiffany Haddish, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lupita Nyong’o, Slick Woods, Issa Rae, Aja Naomi King, Laverne Cox, Naomi Campbell and, of course, Oprah on her own Oprah mag. But of course!).
Black women are not only on magazine covers but also in academia. Breaking through the ivy, four of Harvard University’s academic departments will be led by African-American women. Scoring a double whammy, Professor Claudine Gay, the latest appointee, will become the first woman and the first African-American to lead the university’s prestigious Faculty of Arts and Sciences. It’s only taken Harvard 382-years to make history. In 2016, Michelle A. Williams became the first Black women to lead the Longwood-based School of Public Health. Tomiko Brown-Nagin and Bridget Terry-Long were also the first Black women who became deans of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the Graduate School of Education in April and May, respectively. University President Lawrence S. Bacow said, “Each of these exceptional individuals was selected because they enjoy reputations as distinguished scholars and educators and because they are widely admired by their colleagues as extremely effective academic leaders. They were selected not because of their race or gender, but because they each rose to the top of a rigorous search process.”
Until next week…kisses.