December 2021

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™ December 2021


COVER STORY Positive Change


Today and every day we celebrate the contributions of the 450,000 healthcare heroes of 1199SEIU, and the selfless way they continue to protect and heal our communities. May their resilience and dedication serve as an inspiration to us all!


CONTENTS Photo Courtesy of The Library of Congress



Features SECTIONS Health ................................... 10

Nurse Receives Prestigious Honor..............................10 COVID Testing & Vaccinations at Pilgrim BC.................12

Money................................... 23

Aetna Healthcare Heroes............................................15

Culture.................................. 28

Martin Luther’s 1527 Pandemic Advice Still Applies... 19 On the Road to Freedom: The Great Emancipation.......20

&also inside Publisher’s Desk................................ 8 Fitness Doctor ................................. 18 The Last Word .................................. 38

Harlem Send-off Celebration for de Blasio..................22 The Importance of Black-led Banks...........................23 Charlotte Ottley Honored........................................... 24 Harlem Lights 2021................................................... 25 Rev. Geraldine L. Harris Makes History....................... 26 Newark to Host 3rd National Black Political Convention..28 NY Gov. Kathy Hochul Addresses AACEO...........................32 New England Missionary Baptist Convention Meets........ 34


The Positive Community December Issue 2021

Together, A Future Without Limits Every student walks through the doors of school bearing gifts. Talent. Perspective. Drive. Inspiration. So at KIPP Newark Public Schools, we support every student to see those gifts, then build the skills and confidence they need to pursue their highest aspirations.




Kindergarten to College

Our school days are longer so our students have more time to learn, grow, and prepare for success in college, career, and life. KIPP families have easy access to teachers and school leadership by email and phone after school hours.

When you enroll in KIPP Newark, we’re with you to and through college. Middle school students (5-8) receive automatic acceptance to our high schools. The level of school work helps ensure students are ready for college, career, and beyond.


All Kids

We believe in making learning fun by offering arts, science, sports and a variety of extracurricular activities to build wellrounded kids.

Our free, high-performing, public charter schools are open to all students, including those with special needs and varied abilities. Our schools provide a safe, positive learning environment for all students.

“I have a family from KIPP. These are people who still impact my life to this day. When my son was kindergarten ready, I selected KIPP New Jersey. It felt right. It’s where he belonged.” UMAR ABARE KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy, Class of 2012



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he clergy organizations, churches, community businesses and institutions listed below have committed to the purchase of at least 50 magazines per month at $1.50 each or they support this publication through the purchase of advertising. Find out more by calling 973-233-9200 or email Concord B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Gary V. Simpson, Pastor

Macedonia Baptist Church, Lakewood, NJ Dr. Edward D. Harper, Pastor

Abyssinian B.C., Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, Pastor

Convent Avenue Baptist Church, New York, NY Rev. Dr. Jesse T. Willams, Pastor

Mariners’ Temple B.C., New York, NY Rev. Dr. Henrietta Carter, Pastor

Abyssinian B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Barry R. Miller, Pastor

Cross and Crown Christian Church, Orange, NJ Rev. Lula A. Baker, Pastor

Abundant Life Fellowship COGIC, Newark, NJ Supt. Edward Bohannon, Jr., Pastor

Aenon Baptist Church, Vauxhall, NJ Rev Alphonso Williams, Sr., Pastor Agape Baptist Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Craig R. Jackson, Pastor Antioch Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY Rev. Robert M. Waterman, Pastor Archdiocese of New York Brother Tyrone Davis, Office of Black Ministry Baptist Ministers Conference of Greater NY & Vicinity Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis, President BCT Partners, Newark, NJ Dr. Randal Pinkett, CEO Berean B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Arlee Griffin Jr., Pastor Bethany B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Adolphus C. Lacey, Sr. Pastor

Ebenezer B.C. of Englewood, NJ Rev. Preston E. Thompson, Jr., Pastor Ebenezer Baptist Church, Orange, NJ Rev. H. William Rutherford III, Pastor Elizabeth, NJ Councilwoman-At-Large Patricia Perkins-Auguste Empire Missionary Baptist Convention Rev. Dr. Carl T. Washington, Jr., Pastor Evergreen Baptist Church, Palmyra, NJ Rev. Dr. Guy Campbell, Jr., Pastor

First Baptist Church, East Elmhurst, NY Rev. Patrick Henry Young, Pastor First Baptist Church of Kenilworth, NJ Rev. Nathaniel Bullock Jr., Pastor

Bethlehem Missionary B.C., Roselle, NJ Rev. Jeffrey Bryan, Pastor

First Baptist Church of Teaneck, NJ Rev. Dr. Marilyn Monroe Harris, Pastor

Beulah Bible Cathedral Church, Newark, NJ Gerald Lydell Dickson, Senior Pastor

First Baptist of Jericho, Deptford, NJ Rev. Derek V. Gaitling, Pastor

Calvary Baptist Church, Garfield, NJ Rev. Calvin McKinney, Pastor

First Corinthian Baptist Church, NY Rev. Michael A. Walrond, Jr., Senior Pastor

Calvary Baptist Church, Morristown, NJ Rev. Jerry M. Carter, Jr., Pastor

First Park Baptist Church, Plainfield, NJ Rev. Rufus McClendon, Jr., Pastor

Canaan B. C. of Christ, Harlem, NY Rev. Thomas D. Johnson, Pastor

First Baptist Church, South Orange, NJ Rev. Dr. Terry Richardson, Pastor

Canaan B.C., Paterson, NJ Rev. Barry L. Graham, Pastor

General Baptist Convention, NJ Rev. Dr. George A. Blackwell, III, President

Cathedral International., Perth Amboy, NJ Bishop Donald Hilliard, Pastor

Good Neighbor B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. George A. Blackwell, III, Pastor

Christian Love B.C., Irvington, NJ Rev. Brandon Keith Washington, Pastor Clear View Baptist Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Curtis W. Belle, Jr., Pastor Community B.C., Englewood, NJ Rev. Dr. Lester Taylor, Pastor Community Church of God, Plainfield, NJ Rev. Antonio Porter, Pastor

Memorial, B.C., New York, NY Rev. Dr. Renee Washington Gardner, Senior Pastor Messiah Baptist Church, Bridgeport, CT Rev. James Logan, Pastor Messiah Baptist Church, East Orange, NJ Rev. Dana Owens, Pastor Metropolitan B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. David Jefferson, Pastor Mother A.M.E. Zion Church Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Malcolm J. Byrd, Pastor Mt. Neboh Baptist Church, Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Johnnie Green Jr., Pastor

Fellowship Missionary B.C., Newark, NJ Mt. Pisgah B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Elton T. Byrd Pastor/Founder Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood, Pastor First B.C. of Lincoln Gardens, Somerset NJ Mount Olive Baptist Church, Rev. Danté R. Quick, PhD Hackensack, NJ

Bethany B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Timothy E. Jones, Pastor

Charity Baptist Church, Bronx, NY Rev. Reginald Williams, Pastor

Masjid Muhammad, Newark, NJ

Park Ave Christian Disciples of Christ, East Orange, NJ Rev. Harriet Wallace, Pastor Pilgrim B. C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. Glenn Wilson, Pastor Ruth Fellowship Ministries, Plainfield, NJ Rev. Tracey Brown, Pastor Shiloh AME Zion Church, Englewood, NJ Rev. John D. Givens, Pastor Shiloh B.C., New Rochelle, NY Rev. Dr. DeQuincy M. Hentz, Pastor Shiloh B.C., Plainfield, NJ Rev. Danielle L. Brown, Senior Pastor Shiloh B.C., Trenton, NJ Rev. Darell Armstrong, Pastor St. Anthony Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Walter L. DeLoatch, Sr., Pastor St. James AME Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter, Pastor St. John Baptist Church, Camden, NJ Rev. Dr. Silas M. Townsend, Pastor

Rev. Gregory J. Jackson, Pastor

St. John B.C., Scotch Plains, NJ Rev. Shawn T. Wallace, Pastor

Mt. Olivet B.C, Newark, NJ Rev. André W. Milteer, Pastor

St. Luke Baptist Church of Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Johnnie McCann, Pastor

Mt. Zion AME Church, Trenton, NJ Rev. J. Stanley Justice, Pastor

St Luke B.C., Paterson, NJ Rev. Kenneth D.R. Clayton, Pastor

Mt. Zion B.C., Westwood, NJ Rev. Bernard Glee, Pastor

St. Mark Missionary B.C., Jamaica, NY Rev. Owen E. Williams, Pastor

New Beginnings Agape Christian Center, Freehold, NJ Rev. Dr. Andre McGuire, Pastor

St. Matthew AME Church, Orange, NJ Rev. Melvin E. Wilson, Pastor

New Garden State Jurisdiction COGIC NJ Bishop William Cahoon New Hope Baptist Church, Metuchen, NJ Rev. Dr. Ronald L. Owens, Pastor New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange, East Orange, NJ Rev. Dr. Vernard E. Hinton, Pastor

Grace B. C., Mt. Vernon, NY Rev. Dr. Franklyn W. Richardson, Pastor

New Hope Baptist Church of Hackensack, Hackensack, NJ Rev. Dr. Drew Kyndall Ross, Senior Pastor

Greater Zion Hill B.C., Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Frank J. Blackshear, Pastor

New Life Cathedral, Mt. Holly, NJ Rev. Eric Wallace, Pastor

Harlem Congregations for New Reid Temple COGIC Community Improvement (HCCI) East Orange, NJ Malcolm A. Punter, Ed.D., President & CEO Bishop William Cahoon Imani Baptist Church, East Orange, NJ North Selton AME Church, Rev. William Derek Lee, Senior Pastor Piscataway, NJ Rev. Dr. Eric and Myra Billips, Pastors It Is Well Living Ministries, Clark, NJ Rev. Kahlil Carmichael, Pastor Paradise B. C., Newark, NJ Rev. Jethro James, Pastor

St. Paul Baptist Church, Montclair, NJ Rev. Dr. Bernadette Glover, Pastor St. Paul Baptist Church, Red Bank, NJ Rev. Alexander Brown, Pastor St. Paul Community B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. David K. Brawley, Pastor Tabernacle B.C., Burlington, NJ Rev. Dr. Cory L. Jones, Pastor The New Hope B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Joe Carter, Senior Pastor Union Baptist Temple,, Bridgeton, NJ Rev. Albert L. Morgan, Pastor United Fellowship B.C., Asbury Park, NJ Rev. James H. Brown, Sr., Pastor Walker Memorial B.C. Bronx, NY Rev. Dr. J. Albert Bush Sr., Pastor Welcome Baptist Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. Elijah C. Williams, Pastor World Gospel Music Assoc., Newark, NJ Dr. Albert Lewis, Founder

“The Positive Community magazine does outstanding work in promoting the good works of the Black Church. All churches and businesses should subscribe to and advertise in The Positive Community. Please support this magazine, the only one that features good news about the black community.”—Rev. Buster Soaries, General Baptist Revival, May 20, 2010


The Positive Community December Issue 2021




A celebration of freedom and progress with music, Bishop Johnny Ray Youngblood good food and fellowship Pastor Mt. Pisgah BC, Brooklyn, NY


Newark Mayor Ras J. Dr. Benjamin Baraka Chavis

President & CEO National Newspaper Publishers Association

Kim Ambassador Suzan Debi Good Johnson Cook Jackson Nesbitt Friends of NJ Legacy Foundation Former US Ambassador

Hal Jackson's Talented Teens Int.

Tri-State Ballroom Robert Treat Hotel 50 Park Pl, Newark, NJ 07102 Tickets: $125.00 Per Person: Table of 10 $1000.00

FOR TICKETS CALL 973-233-9200 Proof of Vaccination Required Attire: “Classic Black”


Health ideas for wellness

Avril A. Keldo, RN: A Professional in Her Practice, Nurse at Saint Peter’s University Hospital Receives Prestigious Honor


t was no surprise to her colleagues at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, when Avril A. Keldo received the prestigious Divisional Leader Award from the Organization of Nurse Leaders of New Jersey (ONL NJ). With over 600 members from 90% of the hospitals in New Jersey, ONL NJ is the voice of nursing leadership. Saint Peter's University Hospital, a member of Saint Peter's Healthcare System made the announcement r e c e n t l y c i t i n g N u r s e K e l d o ’s exceptional qualifications, career and community service. Her resume mentions educational achievements giving her a series of letters behind her name including, DNP, MSN, ANP-BC, RN-BC, OCN. At Saint Peter’s, Keldo serves as director of Professional Practice, Clinical Education and Nursing Research, Simulation Lab and Medical Library. "Throughout her career, Avril has always focused on mentoring other nurses and helping them achieve their professional goals,” said Linda Carroll, MSN, RN, RN-BC, vice president and Chief Nursing Officer at Saint Peter's. “If someone has a question or needs advice, she never turns them away. In addition, she is a staunch advocate for higher education, advising colleagues as they navigate the many possibilities a career in nursing can offer.” ONL NJ, an organization that engages and develops nurse leaders in advocacy, research, education, mentorship, and collaborative


relationships clearly recognized Keldo’s many competencies and assets. T h i s y e a r, s h e s e r v e d t h e community as team leader for Saint Peter's COVID-19 vaccination clinics, resulting in 30,400+ vaccines administered to date. She collaborated with multiple departments throughout the hospital including Pharmacy, Community Health Services, Child Life, and Information Technology, along with nurses and patient care technicians. Her comprehensive organizational skills facilitated the scheduling of the three vaccines---Moderna, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), and Pfizer--concurrently each with specific dates and times. As the director of Professional Practice at Saint Peter's, Keldo facilitates multiple initiatives within the hospital. She keeps the staff up-todate on best practices via workshops that focus on building acute care skills, promoting continuing education courses and ensuring competencies through training in the hospital’s Simulation Center for Interprofessional Learning. That center allows nurses to execute procedures on mannequins in a simulated environment without fear of actual harm. Keldo also manages contracts with nursing schools to create an enhanced clinical experience and improve the relationships of nurse mentors with their students. In addition, she serves on the hospital's

The Positive Community December Issue 2021

Marketing and Mentoring Committee spearheading the Nurse Residency Program. This initiative supports, educates, and retains nurses during their first year of nursing. Passionate about giving back to the community, Keldo frequently organizes fundraisers. She coordinated with Saint Peter's Foundation to raise funds in support of sending more than 25 nurses to the 2021 American Nurses Credentialing Center National Magnet Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, and organized a kickboxing fundraiser for those with breast cancer. She also established the annual charity event held every December for the past 13 years. Funds raised provide gifts and scholarships to children who have lost a parent to cancer at Saint Peter's. Upon accepting the award and acknowledging the honor stated, “I believe in championing the nursing profession and am committed to creating an environment that fosters nursing education and professional mentorship at Saint Peter's. I am extremely proud that Saint Peter's continually provides opportunities for nurses to expand their knowledge base as a means to better care for a diverse population. As a result, our nurses will continue to provide the best health care to our patients,” said Keldo.

Six times in a row!

Only a few ICU nursing teams have achieved our level of critical success.

WE CONGRATULATE OUR ADULT INTENSIVE CARE UNIT FOR RECEIVING THE BEACON AWARD, ONCE AGAIN. The Beacon Award, presented by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, recognizes nurses who deliver the very best in critical care to their patients. We’re proud to say that our intensive care nurses have won the Beacon Award for a sixth consecutive time. Winning this award exemplifies the uncompromising standards of excellence which our nurses uphold every day.

For more details on our award-winning nurses, visit

Safely treating you better...for life.

Sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen December Issue 2021 The Positive Community


Newark resident ready for COVID-19 testing

Warriors Cycling of New York and New Jersey joined the effort

Reverend Glenn Wilson, Sr., pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, Newark

L-R: Pilgrim Baptist Church Member Brandon Wilson, Navigator Lyle Dungee and Navigator Andrea Ferguson-Peterson

Newark resident waiting to be vaccinated

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccinations at Pilgrim Baptist Church



or more than a century, Pilgrim Baptist Church has stood as a beacon of hope and a symbol of resilience to Newark, New Jersey residents. The city of Newark is thriving and prevailing despite the devastation of COVID-19. To build on this progress, Pilgrim Baptist Church and nine other churches in Newark have joined a historic nationwide partnership with United Way of New York City for the Choose Healthy Life Initiative. This effort provides COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, vaccine awareness, and preventative health education. Newark churches supporting The Choose Healthy Life Action Plan initiative include; Metropolitan Baptist Church; Bethany Baptist Church; City Hope Ministries; Greater Mt. Moriah Baptist Church; Jehovah-Jireh Praise and Worship Church Center; Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church; Clear View Baptist Church; Pilgrim Baptist Church; Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and St. Marks Free Will Baptist Church. Choose Healthy Life was founded by Debra FraserHowze as a sustainable, scalable, and transferable approach centered around the Black Church—the


The Positive Community December Issue 2021

oldest and most trusted institution in the Black community—to address public health disparities. Choose Health Life is co-chaired by Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Calvin O. Butts III. Fraser-Howze said she handpicked the two pastors after working with them in the past on health equity issues. Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend Calvin Butts III, and Reverend David Jefferson Sr., Esq., helped launch the effort in five major cities: Newark, Atlanta, Detroit, Washington D.C, and New York City. Dr. Glenn B. Wilson, Sr., Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, says “consistent testing and vaccinations are needed to be in place to save lives. As faith leaders, we along with the partner churches, have responsibility to guide community members through the testing, vaccination process, and serve as a COVID-19 education resource." To help with our COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, with the following: Newark Urban League, Bessie Smith Community Food Distribution Outreach, Warriors Cycling New Jersey/New York, Newark Sarah Ward Pre-School, and Skips Tinnie Learners.

Be rewarded Make healthy choices to get a gift card Preventive care is one of the most important ways to keep you and your family healthy. Preventive means to visit your doctor when you are well, to prevent (possibly stop) an illness. Healthcare Central


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or more than 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives more than any of us could imagine, none more than healthcare professionals who consistently risk their lives to protect the lives of others. Facing unexpected challenges, limited staffs, inadequate supplies, and dealing with double, often triple the number of patients needing immediate and intensive care, abiding by their sworn Hippocratic Oath to “…do no

harm,” with courage and grace, they tackled any obstacle to serving or saving a patient. Sponsored by Aetna, The Positive Community’s Healthcare Heroes campaign salutes the doctors, nurses, aides, EMT’s, cooks, janitors, hospital and healthcare executives and many more who toil in anonymity— selflessly serving…


To read more about health care heroes visit:

Dr. Puthenmadam Radhakrishnan

Dr. Pamela Clarke

Dr. Rad is a board-certified pediatric specialist with nearly 30 years of experience. He focuses on underserved communities and has answered questions and accepted as many patients as possible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Rad noted, “…we did not shut down. We managed to continue providing care.” Dedicated to helping people through medicine, Dr. Rad also invests his time in teaching and volunteering.

Dr. Pamela Clarke is the president and CEO of Newark Community Health Centers, Inc., a federally qualified health center. Despite the chaos and early confusion concerning the pandemic, NCHC never closed or reduced its hours. Dr. Clarke proudly states, “Our mission statement is very simple: provide affordable, quality healthcare.” The center’s staff never wavered as they treated a medically underserved community. Read about the adjustments, challenges and the impact on NCHC patients at:

December Issue 2021 The Positive Community



A heart failure specialist’s message for the community Interventional cardiologist Matthew Montgomery, DO, MBA, MPH, from the Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Team at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBI) combines his training in heart failure and interventional cardiology to treat advanced cardiac disease. Q: What do you want people to know about taking care of their heart? A: The most important thing is for people to pay attention to their body. If you were fine walking out to the mailbox six months ago, and now when you do it you’re winded, you may have a heart issue or even heart failure that needs to be evaluated. Many people assume heart symptoms are just signs of getting old, or say “well, maybe I’m just not feeling well today,” so they don’t follow up. However, it is extremely important to pay attention Matthew Montgomery, to these things, DO, MBA, MPH especially if you have risk factors or family history of heart disease.

Q: What would you like everyone to know about the team at Newark Beth Israel?


In treating advanced heart failure, we talk to patients to find out about their lives, not just their medical histories.

The following signs may indicate heart failure or another health condition. Contact your primary care provider to have them checked out.

It’s a team effort here, and we all work with the common goal of helping to improve our patient’s cardiac conditions, which can often require addressing various other factors, such as financial or social support, to name a few. Everyone should have a primary care doctor and should follow up with them on a regular basis. You may be referred to a cardiologist or to our clinic for advanced heart failure. We will do everything we can to help you get better. Whoever your heart beats for, our hearts beat for you. To connect with a top cardiovascular specialist at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, call 888-724-7123 or visit

• Shortness of breath, either at exertion or when you’re lying down • Fatigue and weakness • Swelling in legs, ankles and feet • Persistent coughing or wheezing • Lack of appetite or nausea • Confusion or impaired thinking • Heart palpitations with chest pain, fainting, or dizziness

Whoever your heart beats for, our hearts beat for you. One of the top 15 heart transplant programs in the nation.

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Newark Beth Israel Medical Center has a passion for heart health. As the most comprehensive cardiothoracic surgery program in the state, our Heart Failure and Transplant program has performed more than 1,100 heart transplants, including the first in the state of New Jersey. We’ve been at the forefront of highlyspecialized heart care for more than 30 years, improving the quality of life for transplant candidates and recipients, leading groundbreaking research and helping to increase access to transplants. Hope. Health. Hearts. All transplanted here. Learn more at


Kahlil Carmichael MAPCC, MDIV, CPT is the pastor of Live Well Church, in Somerset, New Jersey. He is a fitness specialist at The Fitness Doctor, a fitness and wellness consulting company; and the author of 50 Tips for a Better You. He is a contributor to Guideposts magazine. His first publication, Living Longer Living Better, is available now. Go to for more information.



is the season—a time of hope, childlike wonder, and renewal. The new year is dawning and no matter how old we are, we have an opportunity to begin again. For this I am grateful. Through prayer and introspection, at this time of year I assign an annual theme for our church. It is a message for right now, and we will study it deeply as we strive to worship in spirit and truth. This year’s theme is “perfecting our God-given potential,” which can easily be applied to our spiritual and physical selves. 1 Peter 5:10 promises, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” To restore means to bring back and repair. God wants to restore our health for us to live well. Let’s work along with God’s plan and make smart health decisions! The first step is to see your doctor annually for a physical examination. Routine annual testing can reveal chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes.


The Positive Community December Issue 2021

The next step is incorporating healthy eating and healthy exercise. As the owner of the Fitness Doctor AKA FitCare 360º, I can say all exercise is not healthy. Exercising too long or with too much weight can be harmful. Please use balance and gradually strive to increase activity and weight. You cannot restore or improve your physical condition without exercise or mindful movement of your body. When you exercise you can reduce inflammation, lose weight, lower your blood pressure and blood sugar, increase your flexibility and lung capacity, sleep better, and have an increased sense of mental well-being. Start with walking three to four days a week and work up to jogging. Properly lifting weights will help to strengthen your bones and muscles. Start light and increase in reps and weight. Try other activities to get moving like hiking, roller skating, or a dance class. Exercise can and should be fun. Next, what does healthy eating entail? Eat clean, including a variety of colorful vegetables, lean proteins, and plenty of water. Your body will thank you. Please make sure to eat the appropriate number of calories for your body. If you gained weight over time, expect to lose it the same way. Excessive dieting can wreck your metabolism and ultimately weaken your health. Remember: move often and eat well! May God bless your wellness journey and restore you! Live well and prosper.

Fitness training is available through the Live Well Church FITCARE program, offered at the Fitness Doctor Studio in Somerset, New Jersey. Please call Karen Beasley at 732-912-4435 to schedule a free assessment.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this column is of a general nature. You should consult your physician or health care professional before beginning any exercise program or changing your dietary regimen.

There’s Nothing New Under the Sun Martin Luther’s Words from 1527 Resonate in 2021 By R.L. Witter


s 2021 comes to an end, many of us have spent a second year modifying our lives due to COVID-19. Others have wearied of mask wearing and social distancing; perhaps they’ve forgotten the fact that plagues and pandemics have occurred throughout history for hundreds of years? The recent resurgence of a letter penned by Martin Luther (as in “Lutherans”) during an outbreak of the bubonic plague nearly 500 years ago makes clear how Christians should respond and comport ourselves during a pandemic. Many have cited their religious beliefs as reason not to comply with mask and vaccine mandates, in addition to their “God-given rights” to freedom and governance over their own bodies. But in doing so, they put others’ health at risk by possibly spreading the virus. Martin Luther wrote in 1527, “They disdain the use of medicines; they do not avoid places and persons infected by the plague, but lightheartedly make sport of it and wish to prove how independent they are. They say that it is God’s punishment; if He wants to protect them He can do so without medicines or our carefulness. This is not trusting God but tempting Him. God has created medicines and provided us with intelligence to guard and take good care of the body so that we can live in good health.” The aforementioned passage reminds me of James 2:26, “…faith without works is dead.” God gives us free will and the ability to choose. It is our choice whether or not to take the medicines God has made available to us. Luther seemingly weighed in on the vaccine debate, writing, “Use

medicine; take potions which can help you…shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city. What else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body?” Each time I see another video of someone becoming loud and belligerent upon being told a mask is required I go further into the priest and theology professor’s words. “It is even more shameful for a person to pay no heed to his own body and to fail to protect it against the plague the best he is able, and then to infect and poison others who might have remained alive if he had taken care of his body as he should have. He is thus responsible before God for his neighbor’s death and is a murderer many times over.” This one is huge. I understand vaccines and therapeutics are not one hundred percent effective and there are breakthrough cases that sicken vaccinated people. However, when I hear of people infected by those who don’t take precautions and even worse, falsify documents to make themselves appear to have been vaccinated or received a negative test result, I am hurt and angered. While Luther’s words were written at the end of the High Renaissance, their relevance today makes them seem prescient. “‘Whoever loves danger,’ says the wise man, ‘will perish by it’ (Ecclus. 3:26). If the people in a city were to show themselves bold in their faith when a neighbor’s need so demands, and cautious when no emergency exists, and if everyone would help ward off contagion as best he can, then the death toll would indeed be moderate.” We’ll simply never know how many lives might have been saved if we all had heeded the advice of staying home when possible and taking recommended precautions when out in public. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem as king, he told the people the two most important commandments were to Love God, and to “love your neighbor…” (Mark 12:2834). Martin Luther reiterated this in his letter writing, “No neighbor can live alongside another without risk to his safety, property, wife, or child. He must run the risk that fire or some other accident will start in the neighbor’s house and destroy him bodily or deprive him of his goods, wife, children, and all he has.” I am sadly reminded of the myriad stories of families devasted by the spread of the virus. They just wanted to share a holiday dinner or celebrate a birthday, but they decided against following recommendations and guidelines designed to slow the spread of the deadly virus. While there is much we can take from Luther’s letter and apply to where we find ourselves today, perhaps his closing sentences best sum up his position on pandemics, medicine, and our duty to others: “As we have learned, all of us have the responsibility of warding off this poison to the best of our ability because God has commanded us to care for the body, to protect and nurse it so that we are not exposed needlessly… For ‘none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself,’ as St. Paul says, Romans 14:7.” December Issue 2021 The Positive Community


Originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of The Positive Community, in recognition of the 150th Anniversary of Emancipation.

On the Road to Freedom: A Sesquicentennial Observance of the Great Emancipation BY CLEMENT ALEXANDER PRICE, PHD My mammy and pappy b’long to Marster Lawrence Adams, who had a big plantation in de eastern part of Lancaster County. He died four years after de Civil War and is buried right dere on de old plantation, in de Adams family burying grounds. I was de oldest of de five chillum in our family. I ’members I was a right smart sise plow boy, when freedom come. I think I must of been ‘bout ten or eleven years old, then. Dere’s one thing I does know; de Yankees didn’t tech our plantation, when they come through South Carolina. Up in de northern part of de county they sho’ did destroy most all what folks had.


n the late 1930s, Works Progress Administration interviewer Henry Grant of Columbia, South Carolina sat down with then eighty-three-yearold Ezra Adams. Mr. Adams was one of more than two thousand elderly African Americans who by dint of age and longevity knew of slavery and had lived long enough to speak of it for the record. That record, the WPA Slave Narratives, has grown in importance as an historical archive over the years as Americans have increasingly trusted eyewitness accounts left by the veterans of the past. According to Grant, Mr. Adams was not in good health at the time of the interview, “incapable of self-support.” His niece, who lived nearby, just off Route 6 and near Swansea, looked after him. When these two men met and talked, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the difficult years that were to follow were distant memories. But those memories resonated in the waning years of life for veterans of the African American past, people such as Ezra Adams. When he thought back to the time of the Emancipation, this is what Grant took down as Ezra Adams’ testimony:


The Positive Community December Issue 2021

You ain’t gwine to believe dat de slaves on our plantation didn’t stop workin’ for old marster, even whom they was told dat they was free. Us didn’t want no more freedom than us was gittin’ on our plantation already. Us knowed too well dat us was well took care of, wid a plenty of vittles to eat and tight log and board houses to live in. De slaves, where I lived, knowed after de war dat they had abundance of dat somethin’ called freedom, what they could not eat, wear, and sleep in. Yes, sir, they soon found out dat freedom ain’t nothin’, ‘less you is got somethin; to live on and a place to call home.

Ezra Adams’ recollection of the ending of slavery in his life and in the lives of those in his community is in concert with what we now know about the Great Emancipation. As grand an event as any other in American History before or since, the Emancipation was not a singular experience, but rather many experiences that more than four million Black women, men, and children lived through along with white Americans, Indians and Latinos. It was also an evolutionary experience, all the pieces of its drama not necessarily falling neatly into place. As Mr. Adams reminds us, many of the slaves freed over the course of the Civil War or after the Civil War as a result of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, initially wondered if freedom would be better than slavery. Over time, they would realize that it was. Others worried that as swiftly as slavery ended in areas that came under the control of the Union Army it might be re-imposed once the Union, and the power of Southern states, was restored. Obviously that did not happen. But the concern of


Blacks on their way to becoming free people was justified. President Lincoln’s famous Proclamation was issued during the War and had not been brought before the Supreme Court, the very Court that before the War was a decisively pro-slavery branch of the Federal Government. And still other Blacks on their way to becoming free, as in the case of Ezra Adams, were most practical men and women. Enslavement had been their way of life; they had forged a relationship with a system that by our standards was demeaning and harsh, but by theirs was grounded in the racial, labor and political customs of their time, not ours. It was the only harbor they had known. Would freedom be a safer one? That was not certain when freedom came. Ezra Adams’ recollections are most instructive when he observed that “…they [the emancipated slaves] soon found out dat freedom ain’t nothin’, ‘less you is got something to live on and a place to call home.” Another former slave, Jenny Proctor, who lived in Texas, remembered the experience in similarly complicated ways: “When ole marster comes down in de cotton patch to tell us ‘bout bein’ free, he say ‘I hates to tell you but I knows I’got to, you is free, jes’ as free as me or anybody else whats white.’ We didn’ hardly know what he means. We jes’ sort of huddle ‘round together like scared rabbits, but after we knowed what he mean, didn’ many of us go, ‘cause we didn’ know where to of went.” Now that the commemorative season for the Great Emancipation is upon us, as we observe the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation that went into effect on January 1, 1863, long before the grandparents of The Positive Community readers were born, the time has come to complicate what we know about that historical moment and to have empathy for those who lived through it. Becoming free during the Great Emancipation involved uncertainty, danger, and the mustering of courage. It also involved a determined reliance on the folk culture that had sustained Black Americans in slavery. As it became clear to those once enslaved that they were no longer to be enslaved, the folkways they knew of intimately enabled them to navigate their way forward, giving many Blacks a sense that

they were, after all, in charge of important aspects of their lives, including their primary relationships—especially their children, and their aspirations as free people. For these reasons, I have always imagined navigating the Great Emancipation to have been a remarkable achievement for Africans on American soil and a period that the nation needs to embrace as its finest hour, despite the obstacles that it placed in the face of those newly freed. The release of two blockbuster Hollywood films that in very different ways deal with the story of Black freedom in nineteenth-century America, Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and a forthcoming array of public programs on the Great Emancipation will likely energize interest in what Ezra Adams witnessed when he was but ten years old. He saw on a very small stage in South Carolina the beginning of a new nation that would no longer countenance the enslavement of Black people, its soon-to-be newly designated citizens. While the Emancipation will be monumentalized this season as a great event, brought on by great men and largely anonymous women, made possible by an especially brutal and transformative war, and consummated as that war’s most noble objective, we should consider how that momentous event affected its primary historical actors, the slaves themselves. The nation’s historical record is old enough now for us to affirm that the Civil War and the Great Emancipation created a nation deserving of the respect of other nations and societies. That transformation from an enslaved nation that professed liberty as its core aspiration to a nation that for generations would agonizingly seek to give meaning to Black freedom, and its ripple effect across the landscapes of time and memory, is the reason all Americans have a stake in observing the sesquicentennial of the Great Emancipation. Ezra Adams from South Carolina, Jenny Proctor from Texas, and others who stepped into freedom one hundred and fifty years ago this season, are deserving of that broadly based acknowledgement and reverence. Dr. Clement Alexander Price, a Rutgers Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History and founding Director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience ((IECME), at Rutgers Newark, passed away in November 2014. Professor, mentor and advisor, Mayor Ras Baraka named him Newark’s first City Historian in 2014. Rutgers Newark created the Clem Price Chair in Public History and Humanities and renamed the Institute he founded to honor Price. December Issue 2021 The Positive Community


Photos: Seitu Oronde

L-R: Commissioner of the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit Roberto Perez and President and CEO of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce Lloyd A. Williams

L-R: Mayor Bill de Blasio and Lloyd A. Williams

President and CEO, New York Urban League, Arva Rice Mayor Bill de Blasio and guests

L-R: Voza Rivers, Ademola Olugebefola, Jackie Rowe Adams, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sally Pinero, Lloyd Williams and Melba Wilson

Harlem Send-off Celebration for de Blasio


he who's who in Harlem community life gathered at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for a "Thank You" celebration and touching tribute to outgoing New York City Mayor Hon. Bill de


The Positive Community December Issue 2021

Blasio. The two-term Mayor who has served since 2014, will leave office on January 1, 2022. On the same day, MayorElect Hon. Eric Adams will take office as the 110th mayor of the nation's largest city.


business, finance + work

Brian Lamb

Byna Elliott

Why Black-led Banks Are Key to Driving Racial Equity Success in driving sustainable wealth for Black communities rests in the critical role they must play By Brian Lamb and Byna Elliott, JP Morgan Chase


ver the past year, racial equity has been pushed to the forefront of our national dialogue amid the furor of George Floyd’s death and the aftermath. The 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the establishment of Juneteenth National Independence Day as a new federal holiday are a stark reminder that the issue of racial inequity is intricately woven into our nation’s history, and that resolving it is an ongoing battle. At JPMorgan Chase, our view is that true racial equity will occur in our society when a person’s race is no longer a key determinant in the opportunities that come their way. In examining the unique history of Black Americans, we’ve certainly made significant progress since slavery ended 156 years ago. But it’s also true that if you’re Black, you’re statistically more likely to face an uphill battle in overcoming persistent racial disparities, including wealth creation, educational achievement, incarceration and more. This is what systemic inequity looks like, and future generations will face these same challenges unless policymakers and industry-leading corporations like ours take meaningful steps towards driving sustainable change. In an effort to do our part, last fall JPMorgan Chase announced a $30 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equity with a focus on Black, Hispanic and Latino communities. We’re directing this commitment towards improving access to affordable housing and homeownership, providing capital and mentorship for small business owners, and growing our pipeline of Black talent across all levels. We’re making significant investments in Black-, Hispanic- and Latino-owned and -led financial institutions that provide critical capital and services to underserved communities. We have invested more than $100 million in over a dozen diverse-led Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions

(CFDIs), more than doubling our original goal of $50 million. At JPMorgan Chase, we recognize that MDIs and CDFIs have earned the trust of their communities as a resource that provides access to loans for consumers and small businesses in many Black communities across the country. They’re a significant provider of mortgages in underserved communities and offer a crucial alternative to high-cost alternative financial offerings like check cashing services, pawn shops and payday lenders which are far too common in communities of color. To help MDIs and CDFIs build capacity and broaden their ability to invest in communities, in February we launched Empowering Change, a unique program that allows these financial institutions to offer new investment products to customers, boost their technological capabilities and develop new revenues through fund distribution. Anchored by a $500 million investment from Google, the program established a new Empower money market share class for distribution by MDIs and CDFIs across J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s suite of money market funds. This will enable Black-led financial institutions to attract investments from institutional clients who are looking to create a positive social impact. Looking ahead, we fully expect that these investments will help drive a more inclusive economic recovery from the pandemic, which hit communities of color much harder than the broader population. If we are to succeed in driving true racial equity and generate sustainable wealth for Black communities over the long term, Blackled MDIs and CDFIs must play a critical role. Brian Lamb is JPMorgan Chase’s Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Byna Elliott is the firm’s Head of Advancing Black Pathways. To learn more about Advancing Black Pathways, visit December Issue 2021 The Positive Community


Charlotte Ottley Honored at Salute to Women in Leadership BY LESLIE NASH


harlotte VM Ottley garnered notoriety and respect in the worlds of media, business, politics, and community activism in the New York area and in St. Louis, her hometown. Honored by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis in September for her lifetime of achievements, she credits her successful career to her commitment to purpose, combining innovation and strategic planning driven by passion. Using a formula for success developed during her years in the New York area, Ottley creates mutually beneficial outcomes matched with God’s grace. Her achievements include the first African American to be named Communications Alumni of the Year by Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, IL; five EMMY awards; a trained Instructor of Physical Medicine at two major medical centers; and an on-air talent with CBS- and NBC-owned stations in St. Louis and New York. She organized events in the White House during the Clinton Administration, including the announcement of the presidency of Nelson Mandela when representing Urban Radio Network. When she was honored by the National Broadcast Association for her outstanding work in Community Affairs in Chicago, Oprah Winfrey recited Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” to her.

L-R: Honorees Actrwess Sheryl Lee Ralph and Charlotte VM Ottley


Currently a columnist with the Ladue News and the author of three books, Ottley serves as the chair of the film and photography committee of the St. Louis Metropolitan Press Club. The Charlotte Merritts Ottley Women’s Transitional Center (a subsidiary of BASIC, Inc., [Black Alcohol/Drug Service and Information Center]), based in St. Louis, was dedicated in 2010, helping women transition back into their families and communities as whole persons. There are so many more achievements and accolades for Ottley, whose eclectic career spans over 50 years. She is an Honorary Marine Captain and a fifth-generation congregant of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. She currently serves as chair of I Am East St. Louis, The Magazine Foundation; the Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce; and the NAACP East St. Louis Branch. The Salute to Women in Leadership Gala is an annual event that recognizes the tireless contributions of outstanding women. The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. takes great pride in giving recognition to outstanding women who embody the mission of our organization to help create opportunity for disadvantaged and overlooked individuals and communities.

L-R: Susan L. Taylor with President and CEO of The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis Michael P. McMillian

The Positive Community December Issue 2021

L-R: Cynthia Badie-Beard with Honoree Charlotte VM Ottley

Harlem Holiday Lights 2021


Nick Cannon

rand Marshall Nick Cannon led the 28th annual Harlem Holiday Lights event. Multi-talented Cannon— a c t o r, host, comedian, producer, writer, director, DJ, philanthropist, and entrepreneur—was on hand to direct the floats and festivities. The Caravan began at 125th Street and Broadway on November 16th. The Caravan’s festive floats filled the route with music and infectious holiday cheer. The 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) along with Community Boards 9 & 10, and the Mt. Morris Park Community Improvement Association, business owners, and community residents along the route added to the festive atmosphere of the evening, by decorating their properties in gorgeous holiday decor.

L-R: President/CEO 125th St. BID Barbara Askins and Nick Cannon

December Issue 2021 The Positive Community


Rev. Geraldine L. Harris Makes History BMCGNY&V Elects First Woman President Photos: Bruce Moore Conference Officers L-R: Treasurer Rev. Robert Jones, Recording Secretary Rev. Dr. Wendy J. Kelly-Carter; 2nd VP Rev. Shepherd Lee; President Rev. Geraldine L. Harris; Asst. Recording Secretary Dr. Evelyn J. Perkins; Financial Secretary Rev. Dr. Edgar Howard; Sergeant At Arms Rev. Dr. Isaiah Holland; 1st VP Rev. Dr. James A. Kilgore (kneeling)


n Monday, December 13, 2021 history was made when Rev. Geraldine L. Harris became the first female president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Greater New York & Vicinity (BMCGNY&V). President Harris and her cabinet were installed at the Greater File Chapel Baptist Church, where she is pastor. Rev. Dr. Carl L. Washington, Jr. Empire Missionary Baptist Convention president presided over the occasion. Rev. Dr. Anthony Lowe, United Missionary Baptist Association moderator, conducted the installation. Founded in 1898, the BMCGNY&V is NYC's oldest and largest clergy organization representing over 300,000 constituents.

L-R: Rev. James Duckett, President Rev. Geraldine L. Harris and Rev. Carl Washington, III


The Positive Community December Issue 2021

L-R: Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis, Immediate past president with President Rev. Geraldine L. Harris

L-R: Rev. Dr. Carl L. Washington, Rev. Dr. Anthony Lowe, Rev. Geraldine L. Harris; Rev. Dr. John L. Scott and Rev. Dr. Nelson Dukes

music, art + literature


Photos: Raymond Hagans


L-R: Dr. Joel Bloom, NJIT Chief External Affairs Officer Angela R. Garretson, Ph.D. and Newark School Superintendent Roger León

Health survival ideas for wellness

By James Frazier Newark News & Story Collaborative

Black Theater Companies Pivot, Present | In-person Theatre is Back



rustrated with the lack of diversity in American theater, Ricardo Mohamed Khan and L. Kenneth Richardson conceptualized Crossroads Company. Newarkthe Mayor Ras BarakaTheatre makes opening remarksSince its founding in 1978, Crossroads has produced over 100 works, many of them premiere productions by African and African American artists, including The Colored Museum and Spunk by George C. Wolfe, Jitney by August Wilson, Sheila’s Day by South African writer Duma, Ndlovu and many more. Crossroads received the 1999 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in the United States in recognition of its 22ifty years ago Amiri Baraka, the poet and activist year history of artistic accomplishment and excellence. began organizing the nation’s first National Black “My father’s heritage is East Indian; my mother is Political Convention along with Gary, Indiana African-American and so they were bringing together Mayor Richard Hatcher, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, two cultures,” said Kahn. “That’s ethically as well as and Congressman Charles C. Diggs Jr. Held in Gary, geographically. Growing up, there was never a sense Indiana Marcy 10-12, 1972, the convention gathered that we were solely identified by being Black kids in around ten thousand African-Americans to discuss Camden, New Jersey. Yes, we were Black in Camden, and advocate for Black communities that undergo but our roots are global. What I’ve always wanted to significant economic and social crisis. Part of their goal tell people through Crossroads is that it’s about our was to increase the number of Black politicians elected roots. As Black people in this country we should not to office, increase representation, and create an agenda forget or even allow people to think this is all of who we for fundamental change. are.” He continued, “There’s much more! The sense On December 1, 2021, Amiri Baraka’s son, Ras of a connecting, having a theater like Crossroads that Baraka, the poet, activist and mayor of Newark, Mayor connects to many different communities in this counChokwe Antar Lumumba of Jackson, Mississippi, Jazz try and around the world is in order for us to redefine and R&B Legend James Mtume and New Jersey Institute who we are on a larger level.” of Technology President Dr. Joel Bloom, held a press Across the Hudson River, one of the pioneering insticonference to announce the 2022 National Black Political tutions integrating artists of color and women into the Convention in Newark, New Jersey at NJIT April 28 to mainstream American theater, Woodie King Jr.’s New May 1, 2022. Federal Theater (NFT), faces major changes. Found“It is timely to have a real discussion about some of ed in 1970, NFT began as an outgrowth of a theatre the issues we have been grappling with – and real debate. program called Mobilization for Youth. The theatre’s This conference will humbly try to launch that. Whether first season opened in the basement of St. Augustine’s people believe it, understand it, feel like it or not, we are also a part of this country. It is just as much ours as anyone else’s.” said Baraka.



Church on Henry Street. Many performers benefited from earsuccesses on NFT’s Jackson, Mississippi ly Mayor Chokwe Lumumba stage—the late Chadwick Boseman, Debbie Allen, Morgan Freeman, Phylicia Rashad, Denzel Washington, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Issa Rae, and Lumumba Ricardo Kahnnoted that many of the issues people many more. Woodie of color face today are what he called “cycles of King Jr. retired from Crossroads Theatre Company humiliation.” Within these cycles, he said, issues come leadership of the illusto light as high-crime rates, underperforming school trious theater at the end of June. systems and failing infrastructure. “It is critical for us “During the first part of the pandemic, March 2020, to come together at this time, in this moment, to talk I had been thinking about retiring,” King revealed. about how we establish unity,” said Lumumba. “Then the pandemic increased in time. The offices closed down. Then people needed to have shots. I said, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t want to go back to work. I’m 83 years old. So, what should I do?’ I thought, I needed a young person to run it. And that person was Elizabeth Van Dyke, our artistic director. She’s experiFive decades after the first National Black Political enced and understands how to communicate with this Convention, organizers of the 2022 convention seek to generation. And getting that younger person to run it fill gaps and address the needs of Black people with a and work with me over the last year and five months, collective agenda, building on the work of those who solidified it for me.” came before. As millions of people quarantined last year, theBaraka detailed, "As the 2022 gathering approaches, aters around the world temporarily closed their doors we will purposefully meet in small groups to discuss and we were forced to stay at home without live ena variety of topics, including public policy, criminal tertainment. For the first time, the theater found the justice, economic empowerment, mental and need to compete with social media and streaming emotional wellness, religious and spiritual health, and platforms. NFT embraced change, deciding to shift the importance of the cultural arts in our daily lives.” theater to the digital space with pre-recorded and live For more information about the National Black Political Convention, visit

buiness, finance + work

Newark to Host Third National Black Political Convention

Education the art + science of learning

The Positive Community December Issue 2021

“Hopefully, my father is very happy we are doing the convention here,” Baraka said.

L-R: Rev. Conrad Tillard and activist Larry Hamm, People’s Organization for Progress

L-R: President/CEO at Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ricardo Salazar and Actor Leonard Dozier

L-R: Rev. Bryant Ali and Bro. Zayid Muhammad

New Jersey Institute of Technology President Dr. Joel Bloom

Bro. Zayid Muhammad performs Libation for our Ancestors

Rev. Conrad Tillard host and member of the convention organizing committee

L-R: Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Angela R. Garretson, Ph.D., Jackson, Mississippi Mayor

Chokwe Lumumba and The City of Orange Township Mayor Dwayne D. Warren Esq. December Issue 2021 The Positive Community


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stephanie mills & the whispers Sat, Jan 15 @ 8PM The ultra-soulful songstress Stephanie Mills is back by popular demand, with celebrated R&B balladeers The Whispers.

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urban bush women Fri, Apr 1 @ 7:30PM Sat, Apr 2 @ 2PM Dance performance Hair & Other Stories reflects on race, identity and beauty through the lens of Black women’s hair.

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12/8/21 10:21 AM

Photos: Ryan Council

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul

Governor Kathy Hochul and Rev. Robert M. Waterman

L-R: Rev. Jacques DeGraff, leader of Choose Healthy Life initiative in New York City, Rev. Waterman, Debra Frazer Howe, founder of Choose Healthy Life, and MTA Chief Diversity Officer Michael Garner

AACEO President Robert M. Waterman, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church of Brooklyn

L-R: Dee Bailey, Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, Watchful Eye Director Jessica Bailey, NYS Governor Kathy Hochul, Rev. Dr. Robert Waterman, NYC Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and Judge Robin Sheares

NYS Governor Kathy Hochul Addresses AACEO


frican American Clergy and Elected Officials (AACEO) hosted their monthly breakfast meeting and fellowship session on December 2, at Antioch Baptist Church in Brooklyn. NYS Governor Kathy Hochul and NYS Attorney General Letitia James were featured speakers. AACEO meets every first Friday bringing together leaders in clergy, government, business and community service to discuss the issues, share ideas and fellowship.

L-R: NYS Attorney General Letitia James, Tahirah Wornum and Bishop Raymond Rufen-Blanchette


The Positive Community December Issue 2021

Berkeley College reserves the right to add, discontinue, or modify its programs and policies at any time. Modifications subsequent to the original publication of this document may not be reflected here. For up-to-date and detailed information, please visit

December Issue 2021 The Positive Community


New England Missionary Baptist Convention Meets Photos: Karen Waters

L-R: N.E.M.B.C. Executive Secretary, Cheri Wells; N.E M B.C. Women's President, Rev. Dr. Kim Cotton; Bishop Lisa Weah, New Bethlehem Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD and Rev. Dr. Albert L. Morgan, N.E.M.B.C. President

L-R: Adrian Council, Sr., Pastor James Butler, N.E.M.B.C DMV Vice President and Rev. Dr. Albert L. Morgan, N.E.M.B.C President

On November 4-6, 2021, the 147th Annual Session of New England Missionary Baptist Convention was held at Perkins Square Baptist Church in Baltimore, MD. The event was hosted by N.E.M.B.C. Vice President Pastor James Butler & N.E.M.B.C President Rev. Cleveland Mason.

Catering for all Occasions: • Weddings •Church Events •General Meetings •Parties •Full Service Catering Kevin Smallwood “Caterer to the Stars”

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The Positive Community December Issue 2021

• Outdoor Events/Cookouts •Bar-B-Ques •Fish Fry’s •Thanksgiving Celebrations •Christmas Parties

Mother’s Day Celebration Sunday May 8, 2022 •Amazing Food •Great Entertainment

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December Issue 2021 The Positive Community


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Scenic Design MICHAEL CARNAHAN Costume Design EMILIO SOSA Lighting Design RUI RITA Original Music & Sound Design ROB KAPLOWITZ Projection Design NICHOLAS HUSSONG Original Music & Lyrics JIMMY KEYS aka “J. KEYS” Choreography ADESOLA OSAKALUMI Hair & Wig Design COOKIE JORDAN or 212.239.6200 New World Stages 340 W. 50th St. 36

The Positive Community December Issue 2021



VISIT: CALL: (212) 947-8844 IN PERSON: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre Box Office, 261 W. 47th St.

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Written by





The Last Word BY R.L. WITTER



hroughout 2021, I’ve made every effort to remain healthy and safe while attempting some level of normalcy and happiness. I’ve been vaccinated twice and received my booster and I’m still wearing a mask when interacting with those not in my household. I breathed a sigh of relief in November 2020 when the former White House resident lost his re-election bid for another term and a man with both governing experience and a more pleasant and reasonable temperament was elected. And I have to admit, I took that opportunity to not watch as much news and political programming as I had during the preceding four years. I’m back to watching a few political shows and I’ve noticed much of the talk is about the debt ceiling, “Build Back Better,” and still COVID-19 and its various variants. While those things are important, the topic concerning me most at present is voting rights. Republicans have been steadily chipping away at our right to vote as American citizens. I find it ironic because the GOP is all about our rights when it comes to blocking mask mandates and mandatory vaccination in an effort to stop COVID-19. They say, “My body, my rights” but don’t honor that position when it comes to women’s right to choose, the movement that created the slogan. They seem to believe voting is only a right for certain people, while it’s a privilege granted to some and denied to others.


The Positive Community December Issue 2021

January 6, 2022 marks one year since the violent insurrection in which supporters of the former resident of the White House attempted to stop the peaceful transfer of power and override the people’s choice. We’re still investigating the who, when, and what of the attempted coup — and we should bring the conspirators to light and hold them accountable for their actions. However, if Republicans take over the House and/or Senate, will these investigations continue? Will anyone face justice? Will current laws be strengthened and new ones passed to prevent this sort of thing from happening again? Therein lies a perfect example of how important our right to vote truly is. They can’t win unless they can control who and how many get the privilege of the right to vote. That’s why they’re gerrymandering districts, trying to do away with mail-in ballots, closing polling locations in certain communities, and passing laws banning offering water or chairs to those in need. Never before has it been more important to register, then get out and vote. People line up for the latest Jordan sneakers or iPhone; many stood in line for Black Friday deals. If we can stand in line for those things, then we should be standing up to cast our votes. Also, a reminder that voting in local and state elections greatly impacts our everyday lives. Local politicians are often propelled into state and national offices, so let’s make sound decisions regarding local positions. Your voice counts. Your vote counts. Use them both in 2022.



THE GREAT AMERICAN EMANCIPATION DAY AWARDS Saving Our Own Community Alexis Morrast Jazz Vocalist Musical Guest

A celebration of freedom and progress with music, good food and fellowship


Rev. Jacques


NYC Clergy Leader, Choose Healthy Life

Newark Bishop Johnny Ray Ambassador Suzan Kim Mayor Ras J. Youngblood Johnson Cook Nesbitt Good Friends of NJ Legacy Foundation Former US Ambassador Pastor Mt. Pisgah BC, Brooklyn, NY Baraka (Juneteenth) The National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) Host: Rev. Jacques DeGraff

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