*Things happen in life due to one of three reasons: They happen on purpose, by accident or by Devine design.
It was on purpose that I signed a NAACP petition urging the Department of Justice to file charges against George Zimmerman for violating the civil rights of Trayvon Martin when he shot and killed Martin in February 2012 then was acquitted of criminal wrongdoing last July. As a result, NAACP president Benjamin Jealous invited me and others to the Nation’s Capital for the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington last week. But I had to decline.
As a flight attendant I have little to no control over what cities I fly to and from. And on August 28th I was scheduled to work. But what I didn’t realize until later is that I would be in Memphis; the city where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated five years after his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. The fact that I happened to be in Memphis of all places on the very day of the 50th anniversary of MLK’s momentus March on Washington where the largest celebration in his honor behind the one in the Nation’s Capital would be – I believe – was by Devine design.
I grew up in Knoxville, TN. I’ve been to Memphis countless times before. But I never had been to the National Civil Rights Museum. The site of the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated, and the boarding house overlooking the motel where convicted killer James Earl Ray rented a room to pull the trigger, were converted into the museum. And just since last fall visitors to the museum are allowed on the balcony in the very spot where King stood when he was gunned down. I stood in the exact spot. And I saw the bathroom in the boarding house from where Ray is believed to have fired the bullet that took the life of one of the world’s most prolific leaders.
No matter how many pictures I’ve seen of the motel, the room where King stayed or the balcony where he took his last breath nothing for me compares to being there myself.
If you’ve not been to the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis, it’s worth the trip and the $10 price of admission. Sure, I would’ve gone to Washington, D.C. for the celebration if I could have. But Devine intervention put me in Memphis for an experience I couldn’t have gotten any other place. And for that I am grateful.
Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. For questions, comments and speaking inquiries contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thieves around the country called “sliders” are stealing women’s purses out of their cars while they pump gas.
*Women are always targeted by criminals, so here’s a report to give women a chance to protect themselves better.
A lot of women make the mistake of leaving their purse on the front seat when they step out of their car to get gas.
Some even leave the windows down which opens them up to theft. Disclaimer: This is not a judgment against the victim because lots of men and women have reflexive actions they commit that could be considered …not so smart.
But now, the Today show has revealed in an investigative report, criminals called “sliders” are sliding up to women’s cars and snatching their purses out of the front seat.
*When I graduated from college the first time followed my dreams and became a newspaper and television news reporter. I traveled across the country covering stories, one of the most memorable was when I met Nelson Mandela during his visit to the United States after his release from a South African prison.
When I graduated from college the second time my dreams led me to Washington, D.C. where I worked on Capitol Hill, attended presidential inaugurations and reported on the State of the Union Address. When I got the chance to produce programming at an independent television station in Virginia I jumped at the chance. And when Morgan State University in Baltimore had an opening I became Professor Rivers in the Department of Communications.
As a college professor I joined a committee to promote a student exchange program between the United States and Vietnam. So I traveled to Hawaii, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore as part of the Fulbright-Hays Fellowship program. We visited the My-Lai (massacre) Village, the border between North and South Korea known as the 38th Parallel, lo Chi Minn’s Mausoleum and the Cu chi tunnels of Saigon.
I’ve done door-to-door sales, sold cars, owned a marketing company and owned rental properties from Maryland to North Carolina. Last year I started doing stand-up comedy at local clubs and I created a production company with a business partner to produce programming for women and families. We created a reality show, Women Pastors – Ladies In the Pulpit. Now were pitching it to networks with other shows we’ve created
When I applied to become a flight attendant a few years ago they weren’t hiring. So I became an airline baggage handler instead. And when American Airlines starting hiring flight attendants last fall I applied along with 20,000 other people. Of the 20,000 applicants only 2,000 have been chosen so far. I am one of the 2,000. After 8 ½ weeks of training, I know everything except how to fix the plane and how to fly it. I can evacuate an aircraft in record time and save a life 30,000 feet in the air. If all you know about flight attendants is they serve food and drinks, your flights have been uneventful – and that’s a good thing. I love to travel. So I know I’m going to enjoy this job! No matter how far my travels take me I promise to take you with me, because writing and producing are my passion.
Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. For comments, or speaking inquiries email her at email@example.com.
Two fifth graders are arrested for planning a murder plot in their school, Fort Colville Elementary in Colville, Washington.
*What in the heck is going on in the school system that is making it such a pressure cooker?
The students are hurting each other, the teachers are hurting the students, the entire relationship and atmosphere is deteriorating. How can they get an education?
Now a murder plot, configured by fifth graders, has been uncovered in Colville, Washington at Fort Colville Elementary.
Two fifth graders have been arrested for planning to kill a girl and six other students. What could have been a catastrophic event similar to the massacre at Newtown Elementary was thwarted because a teacher followed up on a fourth-graders claim that they had seen an 11-year-old boy with a knife on Thursday, February 7, according to an affidavit reported by the Los Angles Times.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) will host the SCLC Inaugural Festivities & People’s Inaugural Gala on Sunday, January 20th in Washington, D.C. The Gala will highlight the accomplishments of the organization throughout it’s history, celebrate the re-election of President Barack Obama, and pay homage to it’s founder, Dr. King, who made it all possible.
“These exciting events will highlight the accomplishments of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference since its inception; showcase the work that has been done and define the work left to do, ” says Charles Steele, SCLC’s CEO. “We will proudly celebrate our 44th President of the United States and the work of the ‘People’ who made this election possible. Our slate of events will honor not only the Inauguration of the President of the United States but the legacy of our Founding President, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” he adds.
The Festivities are as follows:
SCLC Gospel Brunch, $65 per person
This energetic, uplifting and spiritually delicious Gospel Brunch will kick -off our official events in the Nation’s capitol. Hosted by Sunday Best All-Star Corey Webb we will be blessed with messages from *Reverend Gwendolyn Boyd of Ebeneezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, MD and Pastor Kevin Adams, of Olivett Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. While hearing the prophetic words of these amazing teachers of the word, we will also be touched with the melodious sounds of Earl Bynum, Executive Director of Music at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in VA and NC; Pauline Key The Duchess of Gospel’ and rounded out with the *Award-winning Father of Gospel music, Richard Smallwood.
7:30PM: Dream Keepers for Justice Dinner
This “invitation only” black tie event will highlight the accomplishments of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference since its inception. Join us as we showcase the work that has been done, and the work left to do.
Monday, January 21st 8:00 PM: People’s Inaugural Gala-$80 per person
To celebrate our 44th President of the United States and the work of the people who made this election possible, we will culminate our weekend with the People’s Inaugural Ball at the magnificent National Museum of Women in The Arts. Our second black tie event of the weekend will feature a performance by Whodini.
*The Obama family upgraded their level of entertainment for TNT’s annual ‘Christmas in Washington’ special.
The holiday concert attended Sunday by President Barack Obama and his family, included some non-traditional entertainment this year: a performance by South Korean rapper and Internet sensation PSY.
Other performers at the charity concert included Diana Ross (who had nursed a recent foot injury), Demi Lovato, “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery and Megan Hilty, star of the NBC musical drama “Smash.”
Hosted by, Conan, the 31st annual concert is scheduled to air Dec. 21 on TNT.
*In the aftermath of President Obama’s reelection last month perhaps a more important ballot decision was swept under the rug. The legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado.
There is still a federal law prohibiting the possession, manufacture, sale and usage of the drug but most people who are arrested and/or incarcerated are being prosecuted at the state level. This leaves 3 possible scenarios.
SCENARIO 1: The federal government pursues marijuana users and low level growers under the federal statute. At some point this would probably involve the Supreme Court declaring the ballot initiatives in the two states unconstitutional. This would essentially mirror the era of Prohibition when the federal government enacted a ban on manufacture and distribution of alcohol. State authorities were not the ones chasing bootleggers, those were federal agents.
Of course such a turn of events would be a strong blow against the autonomy of the states. In my mind the question of federal versus state authority has been decided. But it would be worth noting how those who advocate for states’ rights (usually conservative Republicans) would react because these are normally the same people who have been most likely to oppose the legalization of marijuana.
This scenario is unlikely because of the negative associations we have with prohibition. On the other hand the federal government would only need to concentrate its resources in two states which should mean more success in prosecuting marijuana users and distributors. Ultimately I think the stigma of prohibition wins out meaning the federal government does not significantly increase its execution of marijuana statues.
SCENARIO 2: Federal government rescinds its law. This would of course leave the legality of marijuana totally up to the states. If the federal government were to go down this road, it would signal a substantial change in the way marijuana is viewed (from dangerous gateway drug to a relatively harmless recreational activity). It would also signal a victory for the scientific community because those who study illicit drugs consistently rate marijuana as less detrimental than most other illegal narcotics.
I’d like to think that these two changes in total would illustrate how our country is becoming more mature in its approach to certain substances and law enforcement; that politicians in Congress would finally accept and admit that many people indulge in marijuana in their youth (some people beyond their youth) with no ill effects. And it would mark a change in how the Drug Enforcement Agency operates because imports that are now illegal would be allowed. And, most importantly it would significantly change the tax revenues of the government because of the emergence of a brand new industry.
As attractive as the additional tax revenue is, I’m not sure how likely any of those admissions are. The federal government has drawn a line in the sand and right now marijuana is on the wrong side. So it is hard to imagine Congress doing a complete about face on this topic.
SCENARIO 3: Nothing changes. The federal government doesn’t have to change its current law nor does it have to enforce the current law. By doing nothing the federal government would essentially be hedging its bets while public opinion forms around this issue. As time passes it will become evident whether or not the legalization of marijuana has brought more crime and a lower quality of life for people in Washington and Colorado. If that is the case then the federal government will probably follow the first scenario; if it is not the case then they will go with scenario 2. In either case they will look good by reflecting public opinion.
Initially this might seem like the cowardly route. But Congress is supposed to reflect the wishes of their constituencies. If public opinion is in favor of marijuana legalization then Congress should change our national policy, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing if they take time to observe public opinion.
FYI – although I’ve never been very fond of it I do believe it should be legal. However I am willing to accept it being illegal if that is the opinion that is being voiced. If Washington and Colorado are any indication though, cue up the Harold and Kumar DVDs.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.
The godfather of Go-Go Music Chuck Brown (1936-2012)
*By Wednesday afternoon the news had spread about the passing of 75 year old R&B legend Chuck Brown, who formulated the pulsating beats known as “go-go” music. It’s rhythmic phrasings are a mix of calypso, funk, soul, jazz, dance hall and all else that makes for indescribable feel good music. If you’re cool enough to know that Washington, D. C. has two nicknames, then you know that one of them is “Chocolate City,” the birthplace of go-go. It was there in our nation’s capitol that the Chuck Brown sound resonated at clubs, parks and festivals. Chuck’s early days date back to the 1960′s. His discography ranges from 1972 to 2010, but it was 1979′s recording of “Busting Loose” (on Source Records) that put Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers on the map. Retired music industry vet Logan Westbrooks was the president of Source Records at the time when Chuck was signed.
Logan Westbrooks to EURweb: “Chuck Brown was the first artist signed to Source Records and Busting Loose was the first release and it went gold! Chuck Brown and that song firmly established Source Records and became the signature of Source Records.”
Not only did Chuck Brown’s “Busting Loose” establish a hit back then, it forged the trans-cultural spine of one of hip hop’s biggest hits. Twenty three years later Nelly sampled it for his mega hit “Hot In Herre” in 2002. Other songs such as “I Need Some Money” and Chuck’s go-go jazz renditions like “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” & “Moody’s Mood for Love” considerably added to his repertoire. Former Source Records President & CEO Logan Westbrooks further comments on what will become of the Chuck Brown legacy.
Logan Westbrooks to EURweb.com: “The creator and artist of go-go music is no longer with us in person but his genius will live on forever. I am grateful for him and his talent, and thankful that our pathways crossed and extended into a lifelong relationship.”
For this EURweb reporter (turned jazz artist), what trumped the Chuck Brown experience were his live shows. Though raised in D.C., I only recently witnessed Chuck in concert for three years (2009-2011) on the Tom Joyner cruise, aka The Fantastic Voyage. It was trance like enough to be on a vessel among other slated performers such as Frankie Beverly, Babyface, Charlie Wilson, Fantasia, Ledisi, Angie Stone and so many more, but having to choose which one to see during my downtime was the sweet side of torment. One night, I decided to pay a visit to my homeboy Chuck Brown in the Bolero Lounge. Since I had moved from D.C. before I was old enough to go to clubs, and since I liked the song Busting Loose, why not just step into the Chuck Brown show for just a few minutes. One hour and a half later, I had not moved from my spot, except to realize that I should probably put my purse down and get something to drink because I was soaking wet, from giggling, gyrating and being enraptured in the go-go swing! The conga’s played, the horns accentuated with precision, then Chuck or his daughter would spice it up with vocals or a rap. Add to that a smokin’ keyboardist hunched over on one side of the stage and Sweet Cherie on the opposite side also stroking the ivories. Meanwhile Chuck in his classic fedora was strumming on a blond Gibson guitar ES-335, that he is said to have called ‘Blondie.’ This 70 year old man had orchestrated a jam packed room of patrons into a carefree state of “go-go” bliss with a rhythm and never let you go. For the next two years I was fortunate enough to make the talent line up on the Tom Joyner cruise and the Chuck Brown show made my agenda.
Jazzy Rita & Chuck Brown at autograph session on TJ Cruise 2010
My favorite was Chuck Brown’s version of Moody’s Mood For Love. It was jazzy, funky, cool and smooth. I told Chuck at an autograph session on board that I’d really love to sing that with him. He replied in that all too familiar warm and raspy voice; “Yeah, Jazzy Rita, sounds like a good idea!” One night he hinted for me to come up on stage, but I shied away and just kept dancing, there were so many singers on board and so many stars in the house. Fortunately my music director Willie Daniels captured my precious and few moments with Chuck. What he did to a crowd was nothing short of magical. As the saying goes; ‘Guess you had to be there.’
Jazzy Rita & Chuck Brown VIP's on TJ Cruise 2009
Chuck Brown also influenced many bands such as EU, which stands for Experience Unlimited. Their break out hit was “Da Butt” from Spike Lee’s School Daze movie in 1988. Among Mr. Brown’s numerous career achievements, he was honored by the National Symphony Orchestra with a Legends of Washington Music award and he was named one of the top people to have influenced Washington, D.C. in the past 45 years. A city block on 7th Street in Northwest Washington, DC between Florida Avenue and T Street was renamed “Chuck Brown Way.” Mr. Chuck Brown was born in Gaston, North Carolina on August 22, 1936 and succumbed May 16, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Chuck Brown’s last album was released in 2010 and earned him a Grammy nomination. It featured Jill Scott, Marcus Miller and his amazing band. For more on the legendary godfather of go-go, visit his official website at http://windmeupchuck.com/.
Witness Chuck Brown in this EURweb Exclusive video from Jazzy Rita’s personal files.
To the late Chuck Brown; what a loss, what a life, what a party, what a ride! Guess it was time to go-go, thankfully we’ve been left with a go-go swing that should never be forgotten.
*The residents of the District of Columbia’s Ward 8 are insane. Why else would they continue to vote for Marion Barry, Jr. who over-promises and under-delivers? Since 1975 when he began his political tenure in the nation’s capital as an at-large council-member then weaving his way in and out of the mayor’s seat for more than four terms, to his current position as Ward 8 councilman, Barry has been a part of the political landscape of the District.
The only time he vacated the political scene was when he was forced to take time off in 1991 to serve a six month federal prison sentence for cocaine possession. You might have seen the video on national news of Barry getting arrested by the FBI in a hotel room after getting caught smoking crack with a woman who was not his wife.
If I remember correctly, Barry called the woman “that bitch” who “set me up!” on the video. Barry was sentenced to probation in 2006 for failing to file tax returns. And the IRS is still chasing him to collect more than $3,000 in unpaid taxes in 2010. He also was arrested in 2009 accused of stalking an ex-girlfriend. Despite these transgressions, and the fact that Congress took control from then Mayor Barry and the city council in 1995 because of poor fiscal management, the 75-year old Don of the District has won ten of eleven elections there. And he’s vying for an unprecedented eleven wins if he is re-elected as Ward 8 councilman for a third consecutive term in April. Therein lies my proof that residents in this corner of the nation’s capital continue to do the same thing while expecting different results: the definition of insanity.
I didn’t understand it when I moved to Washington in 1994. I lived in the District and in neighboring Prince George’s county for fourteen years. I drank the water too, and I still don’t understand it. And if you were to question life-long residents about their allegiance to the man most of them go off on a tangent about when they were children (30 years ago) Barry gave them a summer job. That must have been before they started keeping statistics, because since 1980 Ward 8 consistently leads the city in the number of high school dropouts, the number of female headed families with children, the number of teen pregnancies, the number of residents on government assistance, the number of people living below the poverty level and the number of jobless residents. This time last year Ward 8 had an unemployment rate of more than 25 percent topping the national average of metropolitan cities of the same size. But they love Marion Barry! Other than a summer job 30 years ago, what has this man done for Ward 8 lately to earn his $125,000 council salary, which by the way is more than two and half times the average $44,000 salary that his constituents earn; those who have jobs.
Most of the children who live in D.C. reside in Ward 8 among the joblessness, the fatherless households and this perpetual cycle of poverty. And while Ward 8 statistics are not indicative of what the rest of Washington, D.C. has to offer, the future of Ward 8 residents – as with any city – parallels that of its children. What I don’t understand is why residents there don’t expect more of their children, more of themselves and more of their local elected officials, especially Barry who has been living off the good graces of the voters for more than thirty years, seemingly at their expense.
Washington, D.C., known as Chocolate City, is just one example of a predominantly African-American metropolitan area with a legacy of ineffective leadership. Philadelphia and Houston are two more cities with low high school graduation and employment rates in certain zip codes. Incidentally, these are the same areas where the political leadership is allowed in then – just like relatives who overstay their welcome – they don’t know when to leave.
While this is not an attempt to blame one politician for the demise of a community the first step to finding a solution to any relationship problem is to admit there is one. And then be willing to do whatever it takes to fix it, including choosing partners who operate with your best interest in mind. Until residents like those in D.C.’s Ward 8 realize they deserve better from their local elected officials – and then exercise their political power by voting for more responsible leadership and demanding better results – they will continue to be left behind and feeling like the middle of a donut – left out.
Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist. Send your comments, questions and appearance inquiries to Steffanie at email@example.com.
*Change is and has always been a constant. That’s becoming clearer and clearer as far as demographics and how it affects America’s cities and politics. The Washington Post has a story that illustrates how profoundly immigrants are changing the region.
Washington is among eight big-city metropolitan regions in which minorities became a majority in the past decade, according to a new analysis of census data showing white population declines in many of the largest metro areas.
Along with Washington, the regions surrounding New York, San Diego, Las Vegas and Memphis have become majority-minority since 2000. Non-Hispanic whites are a minority in 22 of the country’s 100-biggest urban areas.
“What’s happened is pivotal,” said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution who conducted the analysis. “Large metropolitan areas will be the laboratories for change. The measures they take to help minorities assimilate and become part of the labor force will be studied by other parts of the country that are whiter and haven’t been touched as much by the change.”
A report this spring by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission noted that the number of students enrolled in the area’s eight school districts grew by almost 119,000 from 1995 to 2010. The number of white students rose by barely 1,000. The rest were minorities.
“What has happened in the past 15 years in the public schools of Northern Virginia is literally mind-boggling,” the report says. “Even for a region accustomed to constant and accelerated change, the spectacularly swift transformation of the racial and ethnic profile of Northern Virginia’s school-aged population is without precedent.”
*Chocolate City has slipped some cream in the cup and folks are starting to notice all over the country.
The city that was the first on record to become a majority black town was Washington, D.C. They’ve managed to maintain that status until recently when the nationwide gentrification touched down there a few years ago.
According to the New York Times, black residents felt they got the bait and switch by former mayor Adrian Fenty when so-called “revitalization” projects (more…)