OUR TIME PRESS January 3-9, 2019
WHAT’S GOING ON ■■
By Victoria Horsford
RIP: EDOUARD PLUMMER
Edouard Plummer RIP: Beloved educator and community leader Edouard E. Plummer, 90, died on December 5 in Maryland. A Harlem treasure, Plummer arrived at Wadleigh Jr. High School in 1958, where he changed public school culture with his vigor and enthusiasm for education excellence. He founded the Wadleigh Scholars Program in 1964, which prepared high-achieving public-school students for acceptance with scholarships at the nation’s leading boarding schools such as the Milton Academy, Lawrenceville, Phillips Academy Andover, Choate, Hotchkiss and Westminster. He was a household name in the boarding school circuit for more than 50 years. To date, more than 600 predominantly Harlem-based African-American students have completed Plummer’s WSP bootcamp. Plummer reckoned that the boarding schools were academically rigorous and if the students
maintained their scholarships, they were assured access to the nation’s top colleges and universities on scholarships. His conclusion was spot-on! He really advocated for young Black male students to escape urban New York. More than 600 students boast the WSP indoctrination. They are prominent professionals on Wall Street, in medicine, education, engineering, law and Information Technology. Born in West Virginia, Plummer graduated from West Virginia University in 1949 before joining the US Army, where he served as a corporal from 1950-1952. He lived in Paris from 1952 to 1958, where he met and befriended artists such as Lena Horne, James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Picasso and Richard Wright. Surrogate dad and tough-love educator, he was enamoured with arts and culture, especially opera and theater. He earned a master’s degree in History at the City University of New York in 1964. His education model included English and math intensives coupled with perennial doses of lessons in Black culture and history. A memorial service in remembrance of Edouard Plummer will be held at the Wadleigh School, located at 215 West 114th Street, Harlem, on January 19 at 11 am.
Proctor & Gamble, in building a strategy to win African-American consumers, bought Walker & Company for an undisclosed sum from African-American millennial Tristan Walker, who founded his health and beauty business in 2013. The African-American market for Black beauty care is in the neighborhood of $4-5 million. A few years ago, Unilever bought Sundial Brands, a skin care and hair line for African-Americans, from Liberian-born Richelieu Dennis for an undisclosed sum. Dennis recently bought Villa Lewaro, Madam CJ Walker’s mansion in Irvington, New York. Last year, he acquired Essence Communications. Elon Musk’s Tesla corporation, manufacturer of electric cars, named two new board members: African-American Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, a Walgreens Boot Alliance Executive VP and Chief Human Resources Officer (Global), and Larry Ellison, gazillionaire founder of software behemoth ORACLE. Linda Johnson Rice, Johnson Publishing Company Chair/ CEO, is also a Tesla trustee.
BLACK WOMEN MAGIC
Last Friday, it was announced that former USA First Lady Michelle Obama tops Gallup’s Most Admired Women in America poll. Media icon Oprah Winfrey placed second, with former First Lady Hillary Clinton and First Lady Melania Trump tying in third place. Michelle’s runaway bestseller memoir, “BECOMING,” sold 3.5 million copies since its publication date of November 13. Last month, Texas was a fine example of Black Girl Magic, where 17 AfricanAmerican women ran for judgeships in the civil, criminal, family and probate courts in Harris County, and won by double digits. The following includes some of the judges-elect vital stats. They are Democrats who range in age from 31 to 60+. Harris County is 42% Latino, 31% white, 20% Black and 7% Asian. Its 2014 population was 4,108,909, with a 4,125,425 projection by 2018. Harris is 52 miles away from Galveston County. Spelman College received a $30 million donation from trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband William Johnston to underwrite The Center for Innovation and the Arts on the Spelman campus in Atlanta, Georgia. Spelman is an HBCU, a historical university founded in 1881 for women of African descent. A prominent American liberal arts college, Spelman has a disproportionately high level of Black alum who are scientists.
ARTS/CULTURE/ HISTORY On January 1, 1804, African-American Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti’s independence from France. Haiti now celebrates its 215th Independence. The 1791 Haitian Slave Revolt, organized by Toussaint L’Ouverture, launched Haiti’s divorce from enslavement and from colonization. Haiti is the first Black republic in the New World. Martinique literary lion Patrick Chamoiseau says something to the effect that “freedom never tastes as sweet as when you snatch it as the enslaved Haitians did.” The Museum of Black Civilizations, headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, opened on December 6 with the requisite fanfare
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Carol Boyce Davies and brouhaha. The inaugural exhibition, “African Civilization’s Continuous Creation of Humanity,” focuses on the continent as the “cradle of civilization.” A Summit of African Diasporan fine artists and intellectuals attended the opening celebrations, including visual artists like Jamaican-born Peter Wayne Lewis, Haitian Philippe Dodard, Los Angeles-based Yrneh Gabon Brown and Cuban Ello Rodriguez; and scholars like Trinidadian-born Cornell University Professor Carol Boyce Davies and Kenyan Professor George Abungo, curator of the African Cradle of Humankind exhibit. Museum curator and Senegalese Babacar Mbow enthuses, “It is incomparable to anything in the world.” Housed in a 148,000-sq.-ft. building, the idea of this museum was conceived in 1966 when Senegalese President Senghor hosted the century’s first World Black Festival of Arts in 1966 which was attended by Black eminences like Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes, to name a few Diasporans. The museum opening coincides with a critical period in Africa/European relations, re: Euroappropriation of African art. As Professor Davies observed, “While the museum is a fulfillment of Senghor’s vision, the work of decolonization knowledge must continue.” China donated $35 million towards the MUSEUM project. Museum opening is the talk of the arts cognoscenti world.
William C. Thompson RIP: William C. Thompson, 94, died last week. The Harlem-born Thompson was a member of the “Greatest Generation” and a member in good standing with Black Brooklyn political power. A Democrat, he served as a judge, City Councilman and was the first Brooklynbased Black elected to the NY Senate. He cut his teeth in politics when he ran for Congress against Shirley Chisholm in 1968. The son of West Indian immigrants, he is the father of William Thompson, former NYC Comptroller and candidate for NYC mayor. HAPPY NEW YEAR! A Harlem-based management consultant, Victoria Horsford is reachable at Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org.