Positive Community - Summer 2011 Issue

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Summer 2011



An Empire State of Mind BID Banners Fly High on 125th Street

Exclusive Meet Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook


Harlem Pastors Michael Walrond & Jessie Williams Bringing the Word to a New Generation

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Summer 2011



Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Culture. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

Features Harlem Week Festivities . . . . . . . . . . . 18 125th Street BID Beautifies with Banners . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Salvation & Deliverance Installs Apostle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 COVER STORY: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AMBASSADOR SUZAN JOHNSON COOK

&also inside

St. James Welcomes Rev. James Slaughter. . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 City College: A Gem in the Community. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

Guest Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Hooray for the Graduates . . . . . . . . . . 38 Selah! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Gospel Train. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

Alpha Phi Alpha Celebrates 105th Conclave . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

In the Spirit & Image . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 The Way Ahead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92

Mama I Want to Sing Returns. . . . . . . 60

The Last Word . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94

Renaissance Pastors Walrond and Williams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Cover Photo: Bob Gore 4

The Positive Community Summer 2011


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Roll Call for PC_April_11.qxd:Roll Call for PC Document.qxd 5/3/11 6:29 PM Page 1







he clergy organizations, churches, community businesses and institutions listed below have committed to the purchase of at least 50 magazines per month at $1.00 each (one-third of the cover price) or support this publication through the purchase of advertising. Find out more by calling 973-233-9200 or email rollcall@thepositivecommunitycom

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

First AME Zion Church, Brooklyn, NY Dr. Darran H. Mitchell, Pastor

Mt. Pisgah B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood, Pastor

Antioch Baptist Church., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Robert M. Waterman, Pastor

First B.C. of Lincoln Gardens, Somerset NJ Rev. Dr. DeForest (Buster) Soaries, Pastor

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

Archdiocese of New York Brother Tyrone Davis, Office of Black Ministry

First Baptist B.C. of Teaneck, NJ Rev. Marilyn Monroe Harris, Pastor

New Hope Baptist Church, Metuchen, NJ Rev. Dr. Donald L. Owens, Pastor

Berean B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Arlee Griffin Jr., Pastor

First Bethel Baptist Church, Newark, NJ H. Grady James III, Pastor

Bethany B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. David Hampton, Pastor

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

New Hope Baptist Church of Hackensack, Hackensack, NJ Rev. Dr. Frances Mannin-Fontaine, Pastor

Bethany B.C., Newark, NJ. Rev. Dr. M. William Howard, Pastor

Friendship Baptist Church, Harlem, NY Rev. James A. Kilgore, Pastor

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

General Baptist Convention, NJ Rev. Dr. Guy Campbell, President

Black Ministers Council of NJ Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, Exec. Director

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

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

Greater Allen Cathedral, Queens, NY Revs. Floyd and Elaine Flake, Co-Pastors

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

Greater New Hope Missionary B.C., NYC Rev. Joan J. Brightharp, Pastor

Childs Memorial COGIC, Harlem, NY Bishop Norman N. Quick, Pastor

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

Christian Cultural Center, Brooklyn, NY Rev. A.R. Barnard, Pastor

Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI) Lucille McEwen, President & CEO

Christian Love B.C., Irvington, NJ Rev. Ron Christian, Pastor Community B.C., Englewood, NJ Rev. Dr. Lester Taylor, Pastor Community Church of God, Plainfield, NJ Rev. Dr. Shirley B. Cathie., Pastor Emeritus Concord B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Gary V. Simpson, Pastor Convent Avenue Baptist Church, New York, NY Rev. Dr. Jesse T. Willams, Pastor

It Is Well Living Ministries, Clark, NJ Rev. Kahlil Carmichael, Pastor Metropolitan B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. David Jefferson, Pastor Evening Star B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Washington Lundy, Pastor Mother A.M.E. Zion Church, Harlem Rev. Dr. Gregory Robeson Smith, Pastor Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church, Harlem, NY

Empire Missionary B.C., Convention NY Rev. Washington Lundy, President

Mt. Neboh Baptist Church, Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Johnnie Green Jr., Pastor

Fellowship Missionary B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Kippie C. Brown, Pastor

Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Peekskill, NY Rev. Adolphus Lacey, Pastor

New Life Cathedral, Mt. Holly, NJ Rev. Eric Wallace, Pastor New Zion B.C., Elizabeth, NJ Rev. Kevin James White, Pastor Paradise B. C., Newark, NJ Rev. Jethro James, Pastor Shiloh B.C., Plainfield, NJ Rev. Dr. Gerald Lamont Thomas, Pastor St. Luke Baptist Church of Harlem, New York, NY Rev. Dr. Johnnie McCann, Pastor

Businesses & Organizations

125th St. BID African American Heritage Parade African American Muslims for Interfaith Relationships (AAMIR) American Diabetes Association American Heart Association, Northern, NJ Carver Federal Savings Bank City National Bank Essex County College, NJ Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce Inner City Broadcasting Medgar Evers College Mildred Crump, Newark City Council NAACP New Jersey* NAACP, NY State Conference* New Brunswick Theological Seminary

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

New Jersey Performing Arts Center

St. Albans, NY COGIC Rev. Ben Monroe

New York Urban League

St. James AME Church, Newark, NJ Rev. William L. Watley, Pastor

Razac Products Co., Newark, NJ

St. Matthew AME Church, Orange, NJ Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, Pastor St. Paul Community B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. David K. Brawley, Pastor The Cathedral Int’l., Perth Amboy, NJ Bishop Donald Hilliard, Pastor

New York Theological Seminary Newark School of Theology Schomburg Center The Bozeman Law Firm The College of New Rochelle The United Way of Essex and West Hudson University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ WBGO-88.3FM WKMB-1070AM

The New Hope B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Joe Carter, Senior Pastor Thessalonia Worship Center, Bronx, NY Rev. Dr. Shellie Sampson, Pastor Union Baptist Temple,, Bridgeton, NJ Rev. Albert L. Morgan, Pastor


Walker Memorial B.C. Bronx, NY Rev. Dr. J. Albert Bush Sr., Pastor

“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 Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp. welcomes you The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp. welcomes you to Harlem 2011.Empowerment You’ll find a wealth things to seeCorp. and do as you experience The UpperWeek Manhattan Zoneof welcomes you to Harlem Week 2011. You’ll find a wealth ofDevelopment things to see and do as you experience the richness and diversity of New York’s most famous community. to Week You’ll find aYork’s wealth of things to community. see and do as you experience theHarlem richness and 2011. diversity of New most famous the richness and diversity of New York’s most famous community. Come up to Harlem and enjoy yourselves! Come up to Harlem and enjoy yourselves! Come up to Harlem and enjoy yourselves! Apollo Theater Apollo Theater Apollo Theater

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Lloyd WIlliams is president of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce.

My Friend the Ambassador am honored to be able to join with a large and ever growing list of admirers and supporters of Ambassador Suzan D. Johnson Cook. One advantage that I may possess is that she has been a friend and my little sister for at least three decades. I am honored to have Suzan Johnson Cook consider me to be one of her big brothers and a close friend. I am privileged to have known the Johnson family— Suzan, her late brother Charles and her late mother and father for many, many years. What an extraordinary family! Suzan’s mother and father were entrepreneurs and business people of the highest degree. Her brother was a brilliant lawyer, public official and elected representative who served as a New York State Assemblyman representing the West Bronx. “Sujay,” as she is affectionately known by her legions of associates, close friends and family, is an extraordinary beacon of light, whose smile and spirit lights up any room she walks into. Rev. Jacques DeGraff, who has been a brother, supporter and partner of mine (and I of him) for many years, first introduced me to Sujay. For this and many other reasons, I am eternally grateful to him. Sujay is an amazing talent, an extraordinary mother, a talented musician, a great minister of the Gospel, a human rights, civil rights and community activist—at the end of the day she is an extraordinary human being. Sujay also has deep roots in Harlem and throughout New York City. She is an experienced pastor with many diverse interests, international knowledge and a down to earth spirit. Sujay knows how to build and maintain bridges. On May 16, 2011, President Barack Obama reminded many of us as to why he was elected President of the United States, with such great acclaim and promise when through his direct appointment, Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook was sworn in as the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. In her new position Ambassador Cook is a U.S. envoy who will seek to ensure that all persons are able to



practice their religion without fear or reprisal. At the formal induction ceremony, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave warm remarks as Ambassador Cook’s sons, Samuel and Christopher joined their mother on the dais. Ambassador Cook stated her commitment to making religious freedom a national priority and promoting religious freedom throughout the world. For all of the above and many other reasons, The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce is pleased to honor our Sujay, Ambassador Cook at the 2011 NYC Economic Development Day Awards Luncheon on August 4, at Columbia University. Over 400 people representing leading business, financial, medical, arts & culture, educational, religious and civic organizations and companies in the New York region and beyond will be in attendance. Sujay joins a list of past distinguished Awards Luncheon honorees such as: business icon David Rockefeller; Congressman Charles Rangel; Dr. Lee Bollinger, president, Columbia University; Hon. Mario Cuomo, former Governor of New York; H. Carl McCall, former NY State Comptroller; President Clinton; Former New York Mayors David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani and Ed Koch; Nelson Mandela; Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington—to name a few. Ambassador Cook, who was labeled “…Billy Graham and Oprah all rolled into one,” by The New York Times, was given an even more exalted appellation by The Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor whom Time Magazine referred to as the “Dean of Preachers.” Dr. Taylor referred to her as “…the Harriet Tubman of women in ministry.” Indeed. We are especially pleased that Ambassador Cook has been a meaningful part of HARLEM WEEK since its inception 37 years ago. She has been a strong supporter of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of the late, great Hon. Percy E. Sutton as well as during my tenure. HARLEM WEEK and the chamber will always be available to support and encourage our Sujay. Summer 2011 The Positive Community








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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall ompetitive preaching vitiates sincerity of delivery and diminishes the glory of God. While some forms of competition can be healthy and life-transforming, competitive preaching is not because proclamation is Godinspired and competition trivializes and demeans the purpose of the Word. Competitive preaching reminds me of the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the rivalry that the queen initiates between herself and Snow White. Snow White’s stepmother was a selfish, narcissistic individual whose focus on her external beauty ironically highlighted her internal ugliness. Whenever Snow White’s stepmother asks the magic mirror who is the fairest of all, the mirror tells her that she is the most beautiful. Then one day, the mirror’s response changes, and it declares that Snow White is the fairest. This response sparks the stepmother’s jealousy and rivalry and she plots Snow White’s demise. Snow White and the gospel, or “the transformational drama,” as Walter Brueggemann calls it, share a similar focus. Snow White focuses on physical beauty while preaching reflects the beauty of the Word, which highlights the Absolute Truth—Jesus Christ. The fact that Paul raised the issue of rivalry and jealousy in the preaching of Truth thousands of years ago indicated that this was an issue in the early church. He evinces, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill,” (Phil 1:15) and postulates that those whose motive for preaching is rivalry do so out of “selfish ambition” and lack of sincerity. Selfish ambition should not be the motive behind preaching. When a preacher assumes the posture of humility, he becomes spiritually dwarf-like and God’s glory is resplendent. However, for those who desire to be “the fairest of all,” pride becomes the internal ugliness because proclamation ought not to be about performative utterances, but about being a humble vessel through whom God can speak and act. Moreover, when the preacher deliberates about whether his preaching is better than another, he is really asking, “Who is the fairest of all?” When the magic mirror assures him, “You are the fairest of them all,” he becomes seduced by the fumes of the poisonous apple of self-delusion and deification. What’s more, those in the pews probably use one major criterion to determine who is fairest— the charisma of delivery.



The Positive Community Summer 2011

Delivery is inexorably important and should be persuasive and passionate, but some confuse the passion and excitement of delivery of the Good News with “preaching you happy— a.k.a. whooping.” Rather, the quality of a sermon should be judged on its theological soundness, precise biblical interpretation, and life application. While preaching effectuates delight in the listening audience, it ought also to convict and lead the audience to maturity in Christ, love of neighbor, and service to community. The source of the preacher’s Word is God. According to God in Isaiah 55:11, “The Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” If the preached word, time and again, stirs only delight in the listening audience, then that preacher is probably merely telling the audience what it wants to hear. The voice of the preacher who only tells her audience what it wants to hear is deeply flawed. That preacher has lost prophetic conviction and does not speak on behalf of God. Karl Barth in The Preaching of the Gospel once said, “We are under orders to make no image or likeness. Since God wills to utter His own truth, His Word, the preacher must not adulterate that truth by adding his own knowledge or art.” Thus, the first element of good preaching is that we hear from God. The herald has no words of her own. After hearing, we are compelled to proclaim, “Thus says the Lord,” which does not always cause listeners to percolate with delight, but to fidget in discomfort. If the purpose of the preached Word is to be embedded in the human heart and mind and effectuate personal transformation, then the preacher that is “the fairest of all” is the one whose preaching is Christ-centered and Bible-centered and elicits a salvific and transformational response from the listening audience. Thus, good preaching ought to be theologically sound, well-crafted, delivered with clarity, and ultimately point people to JESUS. The topic and theme of good preaching is the Good Shepherd, Jesus, and not the preacher, as eloquent and artistic as s/he may be. Ultimate beauty radiates from the character, life, and ministry of Jesus, and therefore, the absolute truth is that JESUS alone merits the appellation: “the fairest of us all.” www.thepositivecommunity.com

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Shirley Sherrod Civil Rights Activist

Esther Nevarez NJ Div of Civil Rights

Marvelyn Brown Author

Adrienne Sanders Education Forum

CSM Jerome Jenkins State of NJ CSM

Curtis Gregory Economic Empowerment Forum

A Special Thank You To Our Sponsors

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Dana Canedy Pulitzer Prize-winning Editor, Journalist, Author

Harlem Week Kick-Off

L–R: NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Lloyd A. Williams with Shigeyuki Hiroki Photos: Gideon Masseh & Hubert Williams

L–R: Lloyd A. Williams, president & CEO, The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; Jackie Rowe Adams, board member HARLEM WEEK, INC.; NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg presenting HARLEM WEEK proclamation; Julie Menin, chairperson Manhattan Community Board 1; Shigeyuki Hiroki, Consul General of Japan in NY Voza Rivers, HARLEM WEEK executive producer

L–R: Kay Lucas, president MediaSense; WLIB/WBLS General Manager Deon Levingston and Kendra Sherwood, WBLS/ WLIB account executive


n July 14th, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in association with the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce (GHCC) hosted a lawn party and reception to kick-off the 2011 HARLEM WEEK Festival. The event, which took place at Gracie Mansion, the Mayor’s official residence, welcomed a who’s who in business, government and community service. This year HARLEM WEEK honors the courage and strength of the people of Japan in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that destroyed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Japan’s Counsel General of New York, Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki, led a delegation to the HARLEM WEEK event to express their country’s


The Positive Community Summer 2011

gratitude and appreciation to the people of Harlem and to those throughout the region that answered the call to selfless service by hosting fundraisers and organizing relief efforts. On August 4th at Columbia University, the Ambassador will speak about the current status of Japan’s economy in a presentation at HARLEM WEEK’s Economic Development Conference and Luncheon. The Gracie Mansion reception also paid a special tribute to 98.7 KISS-FM on the occasion of the radio station’s 30th anniversary and its years of service to the community. For more information and a list of HARLEM WEEK events: visit www.thepositivecommunity.com or www.harlemdiscover.com. By phone: 212-862-8477. www.thepositivecommunity.com

L–R: Hon. David N. Dinkins with New York Amsterdam News Publisher Elinor Tatum and her daughter Willa

L–R: Rev. Theresa Nance with her daughter-in-law Lauren Nance and James Hoskins

L–R: Radio Legend Hal Jackson with his wife and radio co-host Deborah (Debbie B) Jackson

L–R: Dr. Jakim Jabez Lucas of SUNY Old Westbury; Gregorio Mayers, deputy mayor for Education and S. Raschaad Hoggard, Medgar Evers College L–R: Rev. Dr. Ben Monroe, Rev. Dr. Joan J. Brightharp and Min. Cornelius Dargan

L–R: Janelle Heatley, Jaylene Clark, actor David Allen Grier and Hollis Heath at Gracie Mansion www.thepositivecommunity.com

L–R: No you’re not seeing double! It’s twins Karen Witherspoon and Sharon Mackey-McGee both of City College of NY

L–R: Katsuya Abe, Masakazu Kigure (Japan Consul for Cultural Affairs in NY), Adrian Council Jr., Yohei Suzuki and Adrian Council, publisher The Positive Community Summer 2011 The Positive Community


HARLEM WEEK: An Empire State of Mind By Herb Boyd Special to The Positive Community

Dave Valentin, above, will be performing with Johnny Gill

“In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York These streets will make you feel brand new Big lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York New York, New York…”


The immortal Gil Scott-Heron will be remembered

Fashion Designer Deborah Williams

his stanza from Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ chart breaking “Empire State of Mind” was part of the soundtrack serenading the huge, diverse crowd underneath the tent recently at Gracie Mansion as The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce kicked off its increasingly popular annual HARLEM WEEK. And don’t be surprised if you hear that tune again and again over the next month at HARLEM WEEK 2011 because that’s this year’s theme and from the opening event, “A Great Day in Harlem” at U.S. Grant National Memorial Park, things come together with Family Unity Day on July 31. You’ll find it impossible to resist the urge to sing along when Pastor Hezekiah Walker of the Love Fellowship Tabernacle dramatically instructs the voices of the New York Gospel Caravan. Complementing this angelic choir will be the Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir led gloriously by Minister Melody Moore. “This is a phenomenal group that last year won the McDonald’s Gospel Fest,” said Voza Rivers, co-director of the Dwyer Cultural Center. “After your


The Positive Community Summer 2011

church services, come on out to Grant’s Tomb, the choir will give you additional spiritual inspiration.” If there is an emerging doyenne of fashion in Harlem it’s Deborah Williams and HARLEM WEEK is fast becoming a favorite venue for her to present fabulous new designers and their always engrossing styles. Expect an explosion of global garments with a tantalizing flair when she unfurls this year’s edition of the Urban Fashion Fusion. “A Concert Under the Stars” closes this festive day, featuring the magic flute of Dave Valentin and the mellifluous voice of soul-singer Johnny Gill. The radiant radio commentator and disc jockey Imhotep Gary Byrd and I will co-host this tribute to the immortal Gil ScottHeron who joined the ancestors earlier this year. Here’s that theme again: I grew up in a town that is famous as a place of movie scenes noises always loud /there are sirens all around and the streets are mean if I could make it here I can make it anywhere/ that's what they say seeing my face in lights or my name on marquees found down on Broadway/ Even if it ain’t all it seems, I got a pocket full of dreams… The producers and promoters of HARLEM WEEK like to alternately mix their entertainHarlem Japanese Gospel Choir ment with education, and the New York Economic Development Conference & Expo is a bonanza of information, particularly on health, small business and economic development. All of this takes place on August 4 at Columbia University in the Alfred Lerner Hall. Those who have attended in the past know that the activity is split between indoor and outdoor exhibits and expos. Tolerance will be the main theme for the morning panelists, which is in concert with the concern about last March’s disaster in Japan that left the nation devastated by a tsunami, earthquake and a nuclear explosion. Few are better prepared to tackle this serious www.thepositivecommunity.com

issue than Ambassador Suzan (Dr. SuJay) Johnson Cook, President Obama’s Ambassador for International Religious Freedom. She will lead the workshop on tolerance with impetus on merging uptown and downtown New York City as the world recalls 9/11 in conjunction with the devastation in Japan. “Healthy Living/Health Eating” continues to be an important topic for HARLEM WEEK and a number of notables will discuss the ongoing health challenges, particularly respiratory problems of residents and first responders in the wake of 9/11 and Japan, panelists will devote discussions to these issues and their overall impact on the various communities. Between the morning sessions and the late afternoon seminar on small business is the luncheon and GHCC never fails to bring the best thinkers and planners to this affair. During the recently convened GHCC reports from various committees, the organization’s Vice President of Programs, Patricia Ricketts, and President of PAR Consultants presented an overview of the economic conference and it promises to as enlightening as ever. With a month of attractions from the Elders’ Jubilee to the Children’s Festival, the best we can do here is to highlight a few of the days that tend have an international appeal, such as this year’s Auto Show. “When you see the parade of vintage, antique and unique cars we have lined


up this year, it will easily evoke an Empire State of Mind,” said the show’s coordinator Dr. Reginald Idlet. An array of hybrid and fuel-efficient cars will underscore the show’s environmental focus. Typically, fans go gaga over the exotic and collectable vehicles as well historic buses and motorcycles. Like the Auto Show, the New York Health Fair and Expo is a mainstay during Harlem Day, which takes place on Sunday, August 21. While in its “Empire State of Mind” and with deep concern about lending support to Japan, HARLEM WEEK hasn’t forgotten Haiti, which is still struggling to recover from the 2010 earthquake and the continuing menace of cholera that has taken thousands of lives. Participants in the Honorable Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run and NYC Walk-a-Thon will be reminded of the “Children of Haiti,” and the desperate situation they encounter daily. Each year this run and walk, with its impetus on improving the health of our community, has grown exponentially. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, August 27. This is just a sample of the multitude of happenings that, as Jay Z and Alicia Keys have sung, “will inspire you,” giving you the inspiration and resolve that “there’s nothing you can’t do.” And if you got to do, do it at HARLEM WEEK 2011!

Summer 2011 The Positive Community


New Colors

Josephine Baker

Billie Holiday

Somos la Musica

True Colours

Jimi Hendrix

Flying High on 125th Street

Photos: Kwame Braithwaite

BID On Culture 2011 Project New Banner Designs


BID on Culture partners Wayne Benjamin, director of Residential Development for Harlem Community Development Corporation; Barbara Askins, president and CEO of 125th Street BID; and Michael Unthank, executive director of Harlem Arts Alliance, show off 2011 banners, which can be seen flying proudly throughout Harlem. Ms. Askins holds a Bid on Culture tote bag, one of several items made from recycled banners from the 2009 competition

here is always something exciting to see on the streets of Harlem, but few sights are more magnificent than the 36 new banners that are now flying on streetlight poles along the world-renowned 125th Street corridor. The six designs by five artists were selected from 41 submissions in the 125th Street Business Improvement District’s (the 125th Street BID) third annual BID ON CULTURE banner design competition. The double-sided banners are displayed from Fifth Avenue to Morningside Avenue and from Broadway to 12th Avenue, and along 12th Avenue up to 138th Street. The winning banner designs are the work of five professional New York visual artists who responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP) released in April. The RFP sought banner designs that celebrate Harlem’s musical legacy as well as personalities and venues closely associated with Harlem’s contribution to the history and development of music in America.


The Positive Community Summer 2011

The selected artists and banners are: • Corine Campbell: Billie Holiday • Misha McGlown: Jimi Hendrix and Josephine Baker • Tomo Mori: Somos la Musica • Soyca Mphahlele: New Colors • Hubert Williams: True Colours

The sponsors of the BID ON CULTURE 2011 project are Aloft Harlem, Applebee’s, The College of New Rochelle, The City College of New York, Columbia University, Con Edison, Hip-Hop Culture Center and The Mama Foundation. The annual BID ON CULTURE competition is spearheaded by a partnership between The 125th Street Business Improvement District, the Harlem Arts Alliance and Harlem Community Development Corporation “The designs, the colors, the creativity and concepts all began to define the culturally sensitive streetscape improvements that the BID is seeking to bring to Harlem’s major commercial corridor,” said Barbara Askins, president and CEO of 125th Street BID. “We are pleased to exhibit the work of great artists and we believe these banners will enhance the pedestrian experience of those who are walking across 125th Street over the coming year.” www.thepositivecommunity.com





Public Safety

Street Maintenance

Visit www.125thstreetbid.com to learn about what 125th Street has to offer. Events, Shopping, Entertainment, Dining, and more… The 125th Street BID is honored to welcome and congratulate our newly elected executive officers for FY 2011-2012.

Real Estate





I wish to thank the Board of Directors for their confidence which will allow me to serve as their Chairman for the 125th Street Business Improvement District. I take great pleasure in beginning my three year term.


Carver has been represented on the BID’s Board of Directors since its inception in September, 1993. Over the last 6 years, I served as its Treasurer which has afforded me a greater understanding of many of the goals of the BID and its member businesses. It is indeed an honor to continue Carver’s dedication and support of the BID and to have this great opportunity to serve in a leadership role in charting the future of 125th Street.


Blondel Pinnock Chairman Executive Officers:




We welcome our new board members Steven Feldman (Siegrid Properties) and Maurice Winley (Soul-Saving Station), and our re-elected board member Ross Jacobs (Cogswell Realty).

• • • •


Leah Abraham – Vice Chairman Carmen Tomlinson – Treasurer Lisa Tucker – Secretary Jonathan Hatcher – Assistant Treasurer



Message from the President th

Welcome to 125 Street –

Leah Abraham Vice-Chair

Carmen Tomlinson Treasurer

Lisa Tucker Secretary

Harlem, NYC, USA




July 1, 2011 marks the beginning of the 18th year of existence for the 125th Street BID. Serving as an advocate for the district, the BID continually works at improving the image of 125th Street. Our vision is: a multi-dimensional regional destination consisting of a range of uses that includes commercial retail, offices, social gathering places, residential, educational, civic, and religious with a strong emphasis on culture, complementary culture-related commercial, and hospitality uses throughout the entire area. We focus on people, places, and business. We look forward to you visiting us soon.



The 125th Street BID is committed to improving the quality of life in the community. We work daily to improve and increase 125th Street's commerce and tourism and strive to encourage its ongoing revitalization as a premier art, cultural and entertainment destination.



“BID On Culture”

Harlem Holiday Lights


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Columbia University Salutes the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce on Harlem Week 2011

City and Columbia Expand Program for Minority and Women Contractors the practical aspects of running a business. You can’t grow a company without a strong foundation.” Now, New York City’s Small Business Services is building on the program and expanding it as part of its Corporate Alliance Program, which aims to connect program participants to contracting opportunities in the private sector.

Bruce GilBert


haron Sinaswee, who owns Armada Building Services in Harlem, has participated in a number of professional development courses for small business owners. But Columbia’s construction trades management certificate program, from which she graduated May 23, stands out, she said. “The work we did in class was so very practical, and I learned from conversations with my partners—we’re all in the same industry,” said Sinaswee, who was selected to speak at the graduation. The program is already paying off for Armada, which just completed a large painting job at 415 Riverside Dr., a Columbia-owned residence. “For a Harlem business, being recognized by Columbia is a very big thing,” Sinaswee said. She is one of 25 professionals from 19 firms who earned certificates this year from a joint Columbia University-New York City Small Business Services mentorship program for minority, women and local entrepreneurs. The nine-month program’s curriculum is based on the School of Continuing Education’s highly successful master of science in construction administration. Since the program’s inception in January 2008, professionals from nearly 50 firms have graduated and garnered more than $32 million in construction trades work, including jobs with the city and Columbia. “From the beginning, our vision was to create a program that would benefit minority, women and local firms in the construction trades industry and at the same time help identify firms that might be able to work with Columbia or other large institutional firms,” said Joe Ienuso, executive vice president at Columbia University Facilities. “We have been successful in both regards.” Participants are trained in such topics as marketing and communications, disputes and negotiations, and insurance and bonds, as well as project planning and sustainability. They are assigned mentors, who are building and business experts from banks, unions and large construction firms. “The program touches on every aspect of how to create a business,” said Roxanne Tzitzikalakis, who graduated in the first cohort in 2008. “Class projects gave us a chance to connect schooling with

From left: Columbia University Construction Master’s Program Director Dennis Green; NYC Department of Small Business Services Executive Director Tanya E. Pope; Sharon Sinaswee, president, Armada Building Services; Columbia University Facilities Executive Vice President Joe Ienuso; and NYC Department of Small Business Services Assistant Commissioner Colleen Galvin during the Columbia University-New York City Small Business Services Construction Trades Management Certificate Program graduation May 23, 2011.

“The city has made tremendous progress in expanding the opportunities available to minority and women business owners under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership,” said Rob Walsh, commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services. “Partnering with Columbia was one of the ways we were able to do that. And we will now take the lessons learned from this three-year experience to create an even better program.” Tzitzikalakis, CEO of Eagle Two Construction in Brooklyn, says her sales have nearly tripled since participating in the program, and she has hired more than 30 new employees in just two years. While

the winning team for construction trades management received honorary certificates May 23. From left, coldit thompson, Andrea Moyen, Fatemeh Modarres and Kenneth Shin.

Columbia is currently her biggest client, she is also doing work for the State University of New York and the state of New York. “We know that building your portfolio and diversifying your client list are key to becoming more competitive,” said Walsh. “The Corporate Alliance Program will offer this edge to the firms that need help building capacity.”

the city’s expansion of columbia’s contracting mentorship program comes at a time when the university is also expanding its role as the host of the first and only Small Business Development center serving Harlem and upper Manhattan. Indeed, Jimmy Moyen, a graduate of this year’s cohort, says that the majority of his business now comes from municipalities, and Columbia is his largest private client. As the head of First Choice Mechanical in Queens, he is now exploring a joint venture with a larger mechanical contractor and has secured a small business grant from Goldman Sachs.

The certificate/mentorship program is part of a larger initiative for minority, women and locally owned businesses undertaken by Columbia. The University’s goal is to spend at least 35 percent of all construction dollars with such firms and have at least 40 percent of its construction labor force made up of women, minorities and local workers. “We have one of the most aggressive goals around,” said La-Verna Fountain, associate vice president in Facilities. “The CAP program will help us by identifying those construction trade firms that are a good match for the University, and it will help firms that come through the program by introducing them to potential clients.” Sinaswee’s Armada—which began as a Harlem-based cleaning service in 2006—has expanded to include general contracting work, including tiling, painting and handyman services. In addition to the work at Columbia, Sinaswee’s firm is currently working on a large painting project at the Yonkers YWCA. She makes sure to hire from her Harlem neighborhood. The city’s expansion of Columbia’s contracting mentorship program comes at a time when the University is also expanding its role as the host of the first and only Small Business Development Center serving Harlem and Upper Manhattan. A public-private collaboration funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration and led by the University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs and engineering school, the SBDC provides a wide range of technical assistance, training and support to entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofit organizations in the local community.

Visit http://news.columbia.edu/mwl to see a video about the mentorship program.


The Positive Community Summer 2011


SONYMA makes homeownership affordable in these difficult times. The State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) offers first-time homebuyers: • 30- or 40- year fixed interest rates that are typically below market; • Financing up to 97%; • Flexible underwriting guidelines; • Down payment assistance (higher of $3,000 or 3% of the loan amount or up to $15,000); • No points; • No financing add ons. For more information, call

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Celebrating 10 Years Of "Opening Doors To Your Harlem Home!" Harlem Homes Real Estate Inc. 26

The Positive Community Summer 2011

Robin's Picture

56 Tiemann Place New York, NY 10027 tel: 212-961-1313, ext: 17, fax: 212-961-0906 email: robin@harlemhomes.com www.thepositivecommunity.com

McDonald's Owner Operator

Ron J. Bailey R.J.B. Foods Inc.

s e t a r b e l e C m e l r Ha k e Committed to Harlem e W Committed to Quality Service

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Uptown Manhattan Locations Broadway & 125th St. Nicholas Avenue & 125th St.

Adam Clayton Powell & 125th St. Adam Clayton Powell & 139th St. Photo: Wali Amin Muhammad

Ron Bailey and his wife, Johnnie Bailey


Summer 2011 The Positive Community


NYC Department of Youth at Harlem Lanes

Grenada Prime Minister Honored

Photos: Wali Amin Muhammad

L–R: First Lady Joseph, His Excellency Tillman Joseph with CACCI founder and CEO Dr. Roy Hastic, Sr.


aribbean-American Chamber of Commerce (CACCI) and Industry honors Prime Minister Tillman Joseph at business awards luncheon.

L–R: George Hulse of Healthfirst, Mike Bobbitt, Jeanne Mullgrav, commissioner of Department of Youth and Community Development and the DOYCD bowling team.

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Restoration Corporation Celebrates “Cultivating An Abundant Community” Benefit Photos: Margo Jordan

Chairman and Restoration Board Member Wayne C.Winborne, Actor Hill Harper


L–R: CEO and Chairman of American Express Kenneth Chenault, Chairman and Restoration Board Member Wayne C.Winborne, CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein, President and CEO of Restoration Colvin W. Grannum


The Positive Community Summer 2011

edford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) celebrated its 44th anniversary as the nation’s first community development corporation at the annual “Cultivating an Abundant Community” benefit on Tuesday, June 28th at Chelsea Piers: Pier 60. This year’s benefit honored Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and chairman of Goldman Sachs, and Hill Harper, award-winning actor and best-selling author. Four hundred guests attended this year’s annual fundraiser, which was hosted by David Ushery, NBC 4 New York news anchor and featured entertainment from the Breaking Point Band and the Restoration Dance Ensemble. www.thepositivecommunity.com

“We invite all small, women and minority business owners and prospective entrepreneurs to visit our new Small Business Development Resource Center and Reference Library. It will provide entrepreneurs with information to transform their ideas into new businesses and help current vendors to expand their companies. This is another opportunity we are offering to empower small, women and minority vendors and help them succeed in today’s competitive market.” Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Essex County Executive The Board of Chosen Freeholders And the Office of Small Business Development and Affirmative Action

Essex County Small Business Resource Center & Reference Library Essex County Hall of Records Fourth Floor, Room 447 465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. Newark, NJ 07102

RESOURCE CENTER HIGHLIGHTS: •Specialized 500-Book Business Library •Computer/Internet Access •Daily Newspapers & Business-Related Periodicals

OPEN MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY BYAPPOINTMENT ONLY Call 973-621-2011 to schedule yours today! This project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA’s funding should not be construed as an endorsement of any products, opinions, or services. All SBA-funded projects are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made, if requested two weeks in advance. Contact Deborah E. Collins, Esq., Director, Small Business Development and Affirmative Action, Hall of Records, Room 449A, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Newark NJ 07102. Telephone: (973) 621-2010.

Northeast Baptist Association


Photos: Bruce Moore

ev. Dr. Washington L. Lundy, vice president Northeast Region, recently hosted the 2011 Northeast Region Conference of the National Baptist Convention (NBC) USA, Inc. Clergy leaders from throughout the tri-state and beyond merged in Stamford, CT. Rev. Dr. Boise Kimber is the president of the Connecticut State Baptist Convention. With a membership of 7.5 million, the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. is the largest and oldest African American religious organization in the country.

L-R: Reverends Boise Kimber, Washington L. Lundy, Julius Scruggs, president NBC and Calvin McKinney, general secretary NBC

L-R: Reverends Carl Washington Jr., John Gilmore, William Gillison, Curtis Whitney of the Empire State Convention L–R: Reverends Ronald Grant, James S. Allen and John L. Scott Sis. Nellie Suggs of St. Johns Baptist Church, Scotch Plains, NJ; Evangelist Laura Wright, president of New Hope Women’s Auxiliary and Sis. Pansy King, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Newark, NJ.

Rev. Washington L. Lundy, pastor of Evening Star Baptist Church, Brooklyn, with First Lady Dorothy Lundy

Chamblee's Square Restaurant Full Line of Southern Style Food Breakfast



596 Hunterdon Street, Newark, NJ (Corner Madison Ave.)

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The Positive Community Summer 2011

President Boise and colleagues share their vision for The Positive Community Connecticut edition with Publisher Adrian Council www.thepositivecommunity.com

Jamaica Business Resource Center Awards

L–R: New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York City Comptroller John Liu and Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake, pastor Greater Allen Cathedral in Jamaica, NY


L–R: Honorees Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, NY State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson with U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks

he Jamaica Business Resource Center (JBRC) celebrated its 15th anniversary on Thursday, June 9 with a Sunset Champagne Reception at the RitzCarlton Hotel in Battery Park. The event honored three distinguished New Yorkers: State Senator Ruth HassellThompson, New York City Comptroller John Liu and Cheryl McKissack, president/CEO of McKissack and


Honoree Cheryl McKissack

McKissack. WNBC-TV’s DeMarco Morgan was the evening’s host, and among those speaking and presenting awards were Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake, Congressman Gregory Weeks and Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson. A video presentation highlighted the JBRC’s accomplishments over the years, under the direction of Timothy Marshall, founding president and chief executive officer.

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Summer 2011 The Positive Community


Family, Church & Community Minded

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Welcome to Rosedale Rosedale is a non-profit, non-sectarian Cemetery located in Montclair, Orange and West Orange, New Jersey. Burials: We are committed to preserving and enhancing the natural beauty of our grounds. Chapel: Graciously decorated, the Chapel is available for a variety of sacred services presided over by clergy of any faith. Webcasting: At Rosedale you can stream live, delayed, or recorded services from our chapel over the internet.

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torium and Columbarium prove Rosedale’s dedication to provide the finest facilities and service for every type of memorialization. Witnessing Room: The room was designed to permit families to privately observe the start of the cremation process. Indoor Columbarium: The Columbarium offers a beautiful, up-lifting setting for the inurnment of cremated remains. Outdoor Columbarium: This beautifully landscaped setting offers an attractive openair alternative to its indoor counterpart.

area is designed exclusively for cremated remains. It creates a comfortable environment to memorialize and remember deceased loved-ones. Urn Garden: Designed and cultivated for cremation burials, it is highlighted by warm sun; sculpted rose bushes and handsome bronzed memorial plaques.

Entrance: 408 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ Mailing Address: P.O. Box 728, Orange, NJ 07051 Phone: (973) 673-0127 Fax: (973) 673-8338 Web: rosedalecemetery.org


The Positive Community Summer 2011


Salvation & Deliverance Churches Worldwide Ministries Installs New Chief Apostle By Evangelist Shevonne A. Wilder


he Salvation & Deliverance Churches Worldwide Ministries consecrated and installed Apostle Louis D. Bligen, as its new presiding chief prelate. Apostle Bligen takes over the post of chief apostle left vacant by the sudden death of the ministry’s founder and general overseer, the late Apostle William Brown, who died two years ago, on September 26, 2009. The installation, an historic occasion, took place during the church’s 33rd Annual Holy Convocation June 11-19, ending with the ordination service at the headquarters church located at 37 West 116th Street in Harlem. Apostle Darron Allen of Wyandanch, NY, was also consecrated and installed as the 2nd vice chief prelate. Apostles and bishops from around the world including Apostle John H. Boyd, of New Greater Bethel Church in Queens, NY attended the convocation. Keynote speaker, Prophet Todd Hall, formerly of Brooklyn, NY, brought the holy convocation to its close in old-fashion Holy Ghost fire camp meeting style before an overflow crowd. Apostle Bligen, in accepting his new role as chief apostle, coming after the much beloved and renowned Apostle William Brown, stated, “As we celebrate our 33rd Annual Holy Convocation, two years without our Apostle and Overseer Apostle William Brown, the executive trustee board has implemented a new position and appointed me as presiding apostle to provide spiritual leadership to Salvation & Deliverance Churches Worldwide Ministries. I must say that I humbly accept this position and pray that I carry out the full title as God enables me to do so. We also know that it takes two extreme measures to help this ministry to grow properly and that is, team work and submission…. Team work – is when a group of people join together to get the job done without hesitation or aggravation and in this case a job well done for the Glory of God, large or small. “Submission – Submission is one of the most difficult, vital, and extreme characteristics to practice. However it is the most powerful quality in the body of Christ. It gives good growth, strengthens the weak, builds up good strong attitudes, and gives good spiritual vision. As the spiritual leader, I would like to work very closely with the apostles, bishops, pastors, prophets, elders, evangelists, mothers, presidents, and vice presidents of all auxiliaries and with the entire body of Christ. I would


Apostle Darron Allen 2nd Vice Chief Prelate

Apostle Louis D. Bligen Presiding Chief Prelate

like to also take this time and give thanks to my assistant, Apostle Darren Allen, the Executive Trustee Board, the Board of Bishops, and last but certainly not least a very special thanks to a very extraordinary lady….Evangelist Gail Bligen, First Lady Worldwide.” Apostle Bligen, pastor of Salvation & Deliverance Church, at 1970-78 Marmion Avenue in the Bronx, is a devoted preacher, speaker, evangelist, and loving husband. Bligen began his ministry as an assistant pastor in 1977 as Prophet Bligen. He attended the Manhattan Bible Institute of New York receiving a Bachelors degree in Religious Education in 1982. God elevated him to pastor in 1983, as he also received his Masters degree in Theology within the same year. Bligen was ordained as bishop in 1989 and received his Doctorate degree in Theology in 1992. It was in 2006 that he received the eminent title of Apostle. He has been affiliated with the Salvation & Deliverance Worldwide Ministries since before its inception 37 years ago, traveling nationwide with Apostle Brown. The ministry is his first priority; he is committed, dedicated and faithful to his calling and has worked as chaplain associate in the Bronx House of Detention for more than three years and recently started a campaign to feed the homeless in the community. In constant demand as a preacher, teacher and evangelist, Apostle Bligen travels throughout the nation, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ at churches, conferences, and prisons. The prevailing themes of his message and ministry are: better quality of life for the poor and oppressed and developing a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. He rejoices greatly for his beautiful wife of 34 years, Evangelist Gail Bligen, who works by his side diligently. Although he has done and is still completing these good deeds, his foremost intent is winning souls for Jesus Christ. Apostle Darron Allen, 2nd vice-prelate, has been the pastor of Salvation & Deliverance Church in Wyandanch, New York for over 15 years. He was called into the ministry after a successful career as a lieutenant with the New York City Police Department. He retired after an on-the-job knee injury. Apostle Allen has been married for over 25 years to First Lady Gwendolyn Allen. They have five beautiful children. Summer 2011 The Positive Community


New Pastor Appointed to Lead St. James AME Church Photo: Jackie Turner

By Vesta Godwin Clark

Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter is Church’s Youngest Pastor

Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter, newly appointed pastor, St. James AME Church as he is greeted by the congregation


t. James AME Church in Newark NJ, has a new pastor. On Sunday, May 22 at the Philadelphia First District Annual Conference, Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter was appointed senior pastor of this historic church. For nearly 27 years, St. James, the largest AME church in New Jersey and the second largest in the First District, had been under the leadership of Rev. William D. Watley, who accepted the position of senior pastor at St. Phillip AME Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Rev. Slaughter and his wife, Kyla, were officially introduced to the congregation on Sunday, June 12 by Newark District Presiding Elder, Rev. Howard Grant. After taking his rightful place in the pulpit, Rev. Slaughter greeted his new congregation with a sense of humility and excitement about his new assignment. He shared with the congregation some of his thoughts and beliefs, while jokingly telling them, he planned to be at St. James “for the next forty years.” The congregants at all three services (including the South Orange Pac location), enthusiastically received the new pastor, the youngest to hold that position. It was evident the spirit of the Lord was present because the praise was high and the worship was contagious! Rev. Slaughter, a native of Orlando, Florida is the former pastor of St. Paul AME Church in Macon, Georgia, where he served for five years. Following in the footsteps of deep family traditions, Pastor Slaughter accepted the call to preach in June of 1996 under the spiritual leadership of Bishop Samuel L. Green, Sr. God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, has deposited into Pastor Slaughter’s mind, body, and soul, a passion for Kingdom building through teaching and preaching during his 15 year ministerial career. During this time, besides St. Paul, Rev. Slaughter has pastored three other


The Positive Community Summer 2011

churches, including being appointed pastor at Hickman Tabernacle AME Church in Augusta, Georgia while still a junior at Paine College. Rev. Slaughter has a genuine love of people and his goal in spreading the Gospel is to not only enlighten people, but also to educate them. With education being key, Rev. Slaughter received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Paine College in Augusta, Georgia and his Master of Divinity Degree from Turner Theological Seminary at the I.T.C. in Atlanta, Georgia. Rev. Slaughter has been the recipient of several awards and honors, including being named one of the Top 40 African Americans Under 40 in Georgia by the Georgia Informer. He was featured in the AME Church Christian Recorder as “evidence the AME Church is not dying,” and cited as “a rising star in Georgia.” He is a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. In spite of all of his wonderful accomplishments, Pastor Slaughter admits that without a loving, supportive, and understanding family, none of this would be possible. He is eternally grateful and extremely appreciative of his wife, Kyla Trinette Brown Slaughter and their daughters, Kellyn Skyla and Kylynn Rona. As for his many accomplishments, Rev. Slaughter says that God has done it all to prove that He can use someone who is yet “a work in progress” and believes with all his heart that “the best in Christ Jesus is still yet to come!” The St. James church family is excited about this newly appointed and anointed man of God who has been chosen to lead them into this new season of ministry and witness. They, like their pastor are excited about what God is yet to do! For more photos visit www.thepositivecommunity.com www.thepositivecommunity.com

General Baptist Convention Young People’s Summer Assembly Photos: Vincent Bryant

GBCNJ President Guy Campbell (gray suit), First Lady Dorothy Campbell (white dress) and Deacon James Clark (3rd from right), president of Christian Education, GBCNJ with Summer Assembly staff.


he General Baptist Convention of NJ, Inc. Young People’s Summer Assembly was held July 10-15 at Georgian Court University, Lakewood, NJ, the theme: “ Youth Empowered to Make a Difference,” Matthew 28:19-20. Hundreds of young people from across the state attended.

Curriculum workshops for the assembly included Leadership Development, Conflict Resolution, College and Career Preparation, Etiquette and Vision to Victory. The Summer Assembly executive staff consists of Rev. Gloria Killing, director; Rev. Zantesah Ingalls, assistant director; Min. Tonilee Cook, secretary and Pansy R. King, registrar.

The young people www.thepositivecommunity.com

Summer 2011 The Positive Community


Education Teaching, Learning, Making a Difference

By R.L. Witter

City College in Harlem: Home of the American Dream Dr. Lisa Staiano-Coico, president of the City College of New York


hen people think of Harlem, they often think of soul food, the Apollo Theater, the Harlem Renaissance and the sounds of jazz wafting down 125th Street. While those are all parts of Harlem’s history and its timeless cachet, there is another gem in the storied neighborhood that is all-too-often overlooked and Dr. Lisa Staiano-Coico, president of the City College of New York (CCNY) wants to change that. As the first college of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, it seems fitting that a CUNY alum is leading CCNY toward continued accessibility, academic excellence and community partnership. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Staiano-Coico knows whereof she speaks. “Being a New Yorker and having gone through the CUNY system, I know what CUNY did for me,” she asserted. “I know that I would not be who I am today…” Who she is today is the twelfth president of City College and one who is dedicated to making sure the students in her charge have the same options and opportunities she had while growing up. “When I was


The Positive Community Summer 2011

growing up, my grandmother—when we would take her to the doctor or wherever, they would say, ‘Mama, sign with an X,’” she reflected. “She couldn’t read or write; she came over through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s... And to think that her granddaughter, because of CUNY could be a college president, to me is the most astounding thing and is the American dream.” A widely published expert in skin cell biology, wound healing and burns, Dr. Staiano-Coico, who holds doctorate degrees in immunology and microbiology and worked at prestigious schools including Cornell and Temple Universities, has always held the CUNY college system in high esteem. “When I went to Brooklyn College, it was the only college I applied to…,” she revealed. “I always thought that I’d return to New York someday…It would never have occurred to me that I could come back as the president of City College because City College was a revered college. …When this opportunity presented itself, it was such a wonderful way to give back and I have never been happier in my life...” www.thepositivecommunity.com

Staiano-Coico believes that CCNY has something for everyone and their campus and its students easily reflect that. “Diversity at City College is really quite amazing… We have about 88 languages spoken by students from about 150 countries and… students in classrooms at City College sit side-by-side with other students who have completely different world views and perspectives; it gives them such a richness in their education that they wouldn’t see at other colleges that are less diverse,” she boasted. CCNY’s student body mirrors the variety of New York City with an almost even distribution among the various racial groups

“We want to bring more of our local community high school students to City College as college students. In my first month here, I established the Community Presidential Scholars Program, which is for only our local community. They’re not only outstanding students, but students of promise, students with characteristics of leadership that will make them leaders in their communities in the future.” and a decidedly international flair. Staiano-Coico related one example off the top of her head: “Our valedictorian this year was from Lagos, Nigeria. He wanted to pursue his dream of medicine but could not do it in Nigeria. He came here… to City College. He worked at McDonald’s pretty much full-time… and ended up with a 3.9 GPA. He got into all of his medical schools and has decided to go to Mount Sinai in the fall,” she said like a proud parent. “That’s what City College provides—the kind of multiplying, life-changing effects that you don’t get at the more elite private colleges.” “One of my top three priorities when I came to City College was to engage the community,” said the college president who is known for her open door policy and monthly roundtables for both students and faculty members. “A lot of City College is viewed as ‘The city on the hill,’ it’s viewed as having almost impermeable walls. I’d like the community to know that we are part of the community… and that there should not be any walls.” She continued, “We want to bring more of our local community high school students to City College as college students. In my first month here, I established the www.thepositivecommunity.com

Community Presidential Scholars Program, which is for only our local community. They’re not only outstanding students, but students of promise, students with characteristics of leadership that will make them leaders in their communities in the future.” At Staiano-Coico’s direction, the scholarships offer up to five years of tuition so that students can take courses that interest them but might be outside of their major course of study. Another way in which Staiano-Coico is working to engage the community is by leveraging and spotlighting the location and local cultural resources. “We sit in Harlem…one of the richest, most diverse, and culturally fascinating communities in the world,” she exclaimed. “So we’ve begun a community arts connection and partnership… we’re going to have a complete fall season at the Aaron Davis Theater… We’re having Alvin Ailey, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Harlem Symphony Orchestra… In addition, I’ve revived our summer repertory theater, which hasn’t put on any productions in a couple decades… My hope is that as these partnerships continue to grow, we will be able to establish a School of the Arts in City College, again, very much focused on the Harlem community...” Staiano-Coico is also reaching out to help fulfill a serious need in the community that can literally help countless others. “…Non-profit organizations in and around our community, they don’t very often have enough money or resources to hire grant writers to write grant applications to foundations. We have a resource for them; I have funded a full-time position for grant writing for any of our community organizations…” As if Staiano-Coico and City College aren’t already working nonstop toward expanding the college’s offerings, there is one more ongoing project that is touching the community and its visitors daily. “We have worked and are working very, very hard on beautifying this campus…,” she explained. “Anything that we own that sits within our community, we must take good stewardship and care of… We want to make sure that when our neighbors look at City College, they look at us as good neighbors and good partners.” With so much being done, it is easy to overlook the fact that Staiano-Coico only assumed her role as president one year ago. She attributes her prolific presidency to her personal connection to the college and the city that made her goals and dreams a reality. “I found my passion at CUNY, at Brooklyn College… I found my leadership skills at CUNY and I want to do the same for others…CUNY was my route to success. So it has truly shaped my vision in ensuring that what was given to me as a student in the 70’s, I provide for the students today,” she explained. “And being a New Yorker really helps because there’s a certain grittiness for lack of anything else. When you’ve been there—you’ve bootstrapped, you’ve done it on your own—it makes it that much easier to understand what other people’s plights have been.” Summer 2011 The Positive Community



Rutgers University Photos: Courtesy of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Class of 2011 graduates Brice Rembert, Lamar Murray, and Alvin Nyaboga

Parents Beker and Marie Ganiche, and brother Alain Ganiche with Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences graduate Becker Ganiche at the 245th University Commencement on Sunday, May 15, 2011.


Rutgers School of Managment and Labor Relations graduate Shuang Guo and mother Feng ru Bai

utgers University held its 245th Commencement on Sunday, May 15, 2011. 12,890 graduates were awarded degrees, thus joining 390,000 alumni around the world. Krithika Saikrishnan from Rutgers Graduate School –New Brunswick, is among the record 12,890 graduates awarded degrees in May.

Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences graduate Amani Shallan joined the Rutgers family of 390,000 alumni worldwide when she received her diploma in May.

The College of New Rochelle


pproximately 1,200 bachelor’s and master’s degrees were conferred on graduates at the 104th Commencement Exercises for The College of New Rochelle representing the School of Arts & Sciences, School of Nursing, Graduate School, and School of New Resources. Archbishop of New York Timothy M. Dolan and Stephen J. Sweeny, president of The College of New Rochelle received honorary degrees. Commencement was held at The Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan on May 26, 2011.

Archbishop of New York Timothy M. Dolan acknowledged the congratulatory cheers as he received his diploma from President Sweeney

Peggy Herbert earned her degree from CNR’s John Cardinal O’Connor Campus of the School of New Resources


The Positive Community Summer 2011

Charmaine Richards attended CNR’s DC 37 campus in lower Manhattan www.thepositivecommunity.com

Humphrey Crookendale Dean, School of Management

“I teach teach men and women to be the best managers they can be. But in reality

I teach

“BE A LEADER.” A new model of education for adults.

In 1964, Audrey Cohen founded MCNY on the vision of theory, purpose, and practice taught together to prepare students to be successful and socially responsible professionals. This visionary educational model continues today with a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in business, management, healthcare, education, public administration and human services. We offer day, evening and weekend classes, as well as a selection of online courses and accelerated programs, to accommodate your busy schedule. Think you have what it takes to be the expert? Then we invite you to take the next step, come to one of our upcoming admissions events. There’s still time to enroll for the Fall Semester. Classes begin September 6. All Programs Open House Saturday, August 6, 11am-1pm Master of Science in Education Open House Monday August 15, 6pm-8pm Undergraduate Open House Wednesday, August 17, 6pm-8pm

Think Ahead.Think MCNY. Call 1.800.33.Think or visit mcny.edu

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PosComm-FallReg-0811 8/2/11 1:51 PM Page 1




“My time at Bergen helped to expand my horizons, challenge my abilities, and explore greater possibilities. Many doors of opportunity were opened to me.” Christine, Class of 2011 Salutatorian Hometown: Teaneck Future Plans: NYU






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Grads for the

Union County College Cranford, NJ

L-R: Robyn Miller Samuel and Garnet RobertsBatson, both of Rahway, and Magnolia Lopez from Elizabeth received Post Day Awards during the commencement exercises at Union College in Cranford, NJ. The Post Day Awards are presented to the full and part-time graduating students who best exemplify the college’s ideals of scholarship, leadership, and service. The Post Day Award was instituted more than 50 years ago in memory of two Union County College students who were killed in an automobile accident en route to their graduation.

Saint Peters College Jersey City, NJ

L–R: Wesley Jenkins, Newark, NJ; Jeron Belin, Meriden, CT; Ryan Bacon, Maplewood, NJ L-R: Kareem Gorrick, East Orange NJ; Rodneisha McCathern, Newark, NJ; Bernard Waddell and Nasaun Davis, Clementon, NJ


The Positive Community Summer 2011



Medgar Evers College Brooklyn, NY


President William L. Pollard congratulates a graduate

Grads for the

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz addressed the graduates

Class of 2011


Summer 2011 The Positive Community



Grads for the

One Hundred Black Men, Inc. Awards Scholarships New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott Delivered Keynote Address


ne Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York City awarded more than $221,000 in scholarship grants to eighteen graduates of The Eagle Academy for Young Men, Class of 2011 and two graduates from the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice. Among the institutions of higher learning the young men will attend are Carnegie Mellon University, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, United States Military Academy at West Point, Syracuse University, Howard University, Baruch College, St. Bonaventure University and Iona College. The scholarship awards reception and ceremony was held at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers’ New York Ballroom East where members of One Hundred Black Men, friends and families from all walks of life gathered to honor the deserving young men. New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis

Walcott delivered the keynote address. For more than 30 years, One Hundred Black Men, Inc. has provided scholarships based on academic performance, community service, and financial need to high school seniors in New York City public schools who have been accepted into an accredited college or university. As the founder and initial sponsor of The Eagle Academy Foundation, many scholarships are given to Eagle Academy graduates. The scholarship ceremony was sponsored by Justin Tuck, New York Giants Pro-Bowl defensive end whose Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy foundation has been committed to raising funds to donate books and other reading materials to support children in New York City and Central Alabama. For more information about The One Hundred Black Men, Inc., call 212-777-7070 or log on to www.ohbm.org.

Front Row L–R: Chad Evans (Bronx Law, Government, and Justice), Latif Elam, Andre Augustine, President Philip Banks, Jr., Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Omar Bravo, Brandon Moss, Jordan Esdaille, Randall Logan and Roman Lawson Second Row L–R: Blair Johnson, Brandon Beltran, Dominique Hamilton, Alex Williams, Terrell Bobb, Kristian Valentin (Bronx Law, Government, and Justice), Terrell Chambers, Zhakar McClain and David Alvanes


The Positive Community Summer 2011


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Register by: August 17, 2011

New Degree offerings at New York Theological Seminary Want/Need more than a Certificate in Ministry but not quite a Masters of Divinity? New York Theological Seminary is pleased to announce two new Masters programs:

The Master of Arts in Religious Education The Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling

NEW this fall, potential students can apply for these newly created and approved degree programs: The Master of Arts in Religious Education The degree in Religious Education is designed to prepare persons to administer and lead educational programs in churches, religious institutions, or other academic settings. The program seeks to integrate various academic disciplines that contribute to the best educational practices in the field of Religious Education with an emphasis upon education that is biblically and theologically informed, while allowing students to deepen their understanding of the educational, cultural, and religious context in which they will serve.

The Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling (in collaboration with Blanton-Peale Institute) The Pastoral Care and Counseling degree is offered in collaboration with the Blanton-Peale Institute for Mental Health. Graduates from the program will receive a Certificate in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Blanton-Peale in addition to their master’s degree. Blanton-Peale is one of the nation’s oldest and best known institutes for spiritually-based mental health and pastoral care training. Courses in NYTS degree program constitute Blanton-Peale’s basic Pastoral Care and Counseling program. Candidates who are interested in receiving only the Blanton-Peale basic certificate in Pastoral Care and Counseling may enroll in the program apart from NYTS through Blanton-Peale. For further information on Blanton-Peale, please see the Institute’s web site: www.blantonpeale.org

Admissions Requirements

Students applying to all Masters degree programs at NYTS are expected to possess a baccalaureate degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution (applicants holding degrees or diplomas from another country may be required to provide a translated copy and to provide further information to help the admissions committee determine equivalency); demonstrate evidence of an ability to do graduate level study, primarily assessed through the written answers to the application essay questions and through recommendations; be able to articulate an understanding of their call to professional ministry in a manner that is appropriate to their own experience and faith tradition; and be able to identify a faith community within which they are able to exercise their responsibilities as a religious professional.

NYTS still offers:

The Certificate in Christian Ministry, The Masters of Divinity, and the Doctor of Ministry Curriculum and course descriptions available on the web. (www.nyts.edu) For additional information on NYTS degree programs, contact Dr. Cynthia Diaz, Director of Vocational Discernment and Student Affairs at 212-870-1212; cdiaz@nyts.edu

RECRUITMENT FOR ALL CERTIFICATE AND DEGREE PROGRAMS FOR FALL 2011 ADMISSION IS UNDERWAY NYTS| 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 500 | New York, NY 10115 | (T) 212.870.1211 | (F) 212.870.1236 | www.nyts.edu | online@nyts.edu

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton administers the oath of office to Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook as she becomes the United States Ambassador for International Religious Freedom. Ambassador Cook’s sons, Samuel Cook (holding the bible), a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University and Christopher Cook, a junior at the Lawrenceville School, witness the ceremony.

Dr. Sujay goes to Washington . . . and Everywhere Else! Ambassador at-Large plans to ‘Put religious freedom on the MAP’ By g.r. mattox

Photos by Bob Gore

everend Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, “Dr. Sujay,” as she is affectionately known, first graced the cover of The Positive Community in September 2000. The story included a recounting of the Harlem native’s appointment to the Mariner’s Temple Baptist Church in lower Manhattan— the first African American woman to be elected to pastor an American Baptist Church in that body’s over 200-year history, her founding of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church and her lunchtime services at both churches. We also discussed her duties as the (then) only female chaplain for New York Police Department (a post from which she recently resigned after 21 years) and as the only faith advisor to Bill Clinton on his historic President’s Initiative on Race. Two years later we celebrated another Dr. Sujay first as she became the first woman and youngest person to be elected



president of the Hampton Minister’s Conference and she was featured again. An unprecedented number of clergy attended the conference, prayed with her and wished her well. We also highlighted her work on the Democratic Policy Council in the White house in 1993 and with the HUD Secretary for Faith Initiatives from 1994 to 1997. Dr. Cook’s appointment as the United States Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom is the latest reason to celebrate her on these pages. More than a mouthful of a title, the position gives Ambassador Cook the opportunity to make real, significant change in the area of religious and human rights around the world. Nomination and confirmation About two years ago Cook received a call from the office Summer 2011 The Positive Community


of the Secretary of State asking if she would be interested in the position. “It’s a long vetting process,” she said describing the time from that first phone call to when she finally walked into her office on the seventh floor of the State Department; “but the timing is always divine and it’s right.” Nominated by President Obama to the post in June 2010, with the help of her future staff she spent the next six months holed up at her Sag Harbor home prepping for the confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. But the Senate took no action on the nomination and it expired at the end of the year. The President re-nominated her in February, 2011. She was confirmed in April and sworn in by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in June. Said Secretary Clinton, “ I first met her when she worked on my husband’s domestic policy council in the White House all those years ago. She was introduced to me then as the Baptist preacher from the Bronx. And since Bill was a Baptist from Arkansas –and I was in a mixed marriage as a Methodist –I was looking to her for a little translation. So some people call her Pastor Cook, some people call her Dr. Sujay. But finally, after a long wait, we can call her ambassador.” With friends, family and colleagues from the villages of Harlem and Sag Harbor in attendance along with members of various faith persuasions including Orthodox Jews, Greek Orthodox and evangelicals, the official swearing-in ceremony was described as one of “the largest and most energetic gatherings” the State Department had ever seen. In her remarks, Ambassador Cook stated, “In my new role, I draw strength and inspiration from the example of my home community, the Black Church. Birthed in a context of persecution, the Black Church helped my people endure centuries of degradation and segregation. It gave voice to the yearnings for freedom and justice. It’s no surprise that the civil rights movement was largely organized from the black churches and championed from our pulpits. As Dr. King told us, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ Later the Ambassador reflected. “That room was really what it looks like,” Ambassador Cook said, referring to the people she aims to serve. “That’s what the world is supposed to be like, celebrating one another as much as celebrating the swearing-in of a person. It’s my hope that whether you sit on the left or the right—conservative or liberal, ultimately we can find common ground.” The position and its duties The post of Ambassador at-Large for Religious Freedom was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 as a response to the growing concern about religious persecution worldwide. The Ambassador at-Large is the principal advisor to the President and the Secretary of State in this area. Two people have previously served in the post: Bob Steeple, (1999 to 2001) and John Hanford (2002 to 2009). Currently the position covers 189 countries. The activities and progress of the office are documented in an annual


The Positive Community Summer 2011

report. The term “at-large” means that the Ambassador resides in Washington, but is received by American embassies in other countries along with accompanying staff. About 20 people report to Ambassador Cook, who manages a yearly budget of about $15 million. With little time to settle in after the official swearing-in, Ambassador Johnson Cook was off to Geneva, Switzerland, where she made a presentation before the Human Rights Council. Back stateside, she is organizing series roundtables with faith leaders to discuss past, present and future activities promoting religious freedom. She also wants to know where her office should place its attention. “There are many NGO’s (non-governmental organizations), civil societies and faith leaders who have been doing religious freedom work for two and three decades, so they are advisors to us because they have been working at ground level. As President Obama said, we have to listen and learn from other cultures. The advantage now,” she continued, “is there is someone who is a listener and brings pastoral faith leader skills.” The featured speaker at the Sixth Annual Center for World Christianity Lecture at the Interchurch Center of New York Theological Seminary in late June, Madam Ambassador identified the five underlying challenges to religious freedom: intolerance and lack of respect for religious diversity; laws and societal views on blasphemy and apostasy; the lack of the right to change or teach one’s religion; the perception that limiting religious freedom is necessary for national security, stability and harmony; and impunity and the lack of the rule of law in addressing and prosecuting violations of religious freedom. “Religious freedom is the right to choose or not choose whom to believe in and exercise and practice that faith,” Cook said in her address. “Here we have been able to practice this through our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, but around the world not many are as fortunate. For me, the issue of making sure people have the right to practice their worship or express their belief is very important, and my role is to lift up and promote religious freedom, monitor religious persecution and to report incidence and results to the President and the Secretary of State.” Her strategy to take the concept of religious freedom to the world is called “Put Religious Freedom on the MAP.” She explained the MAP acronym: “M” is for meeting and media, which will employ internet sites like Facebook and Twitter. “Television brought Vietnam into the American living room. This social media can do the same for religious freedom and bring the subject close to our hearts,” Cook explained. “A” stands for access to the Ambassador. She says that through social media the public can ask her questions and if an answer is not readily available it will be researched. “P” represents partnerships, programs and preparedness through which the news of religious freedom can be spread across the globe, thereby spreading the practice. Dr. Cook believes that building relationships is the key to working through challenges. She will be looking to strengthen the interconneccontinued on next page www.thepositivecommunity.com

Dr. Sujay continued from previous page

Ambassador Johnson Cook chats with Congressman Charlie Rangel following her swearing-in ceremony.

tions between faith groups and for models of promising practices that can be applied in other places. On the importance of women in the struggle for spiritual and moral equality, she stressed the need “to use our unique voices to stand together in our efforts to fight against violations of all human rights including those of religious freedom and human rights,” mentioning Liberia, as an example of a country where ethnic, racial and religious conflicts were quelled primarily by the efforts of women. Getting to know her “As an African-American female faith leader, I know what it’s like to be left out or not included in the equation. We’ve overcome certainly in this country; in the Black Church we’ve overcome persecution but for many around the world that is not the case,” she remarked. Cook’s steps have been ordered toward the work she now undertakes. Born on the fifth floor of Sydenham Hospital in 1957, her parents, the late Wilbert and Dorothy Johnson, were rural sharecroppers before they came to Harlem and started what is now a multi-million dollar security business. Both parents were active in their respective churches. Her mother attended Bendel Memorial Presbyterian Church; her father went to Union Baptist Church. The churches were seven blocks apart and on the way from one to another they passed and were greeted by the Pentecostal sisters on the street. “Sue J.,” as she was known in those days, played basketball against boys, but by the age of 13 she knew she wanted to be a minister, starting a lifetime of defying barriers. In high school she spent a semester in Valencia, Spain and learned www.thepositivecommunity.com

to speak fluent Spanish. She entered Emerson College when she was 16, and while studying there, worked with Operation Crossroads Africa in West Africa, an organization she described as a combination of the Peace Corps and Habitat for Humanity. Receiving a B.S. in Speech in 1976, and an M.A. from Columbia University Teachers College in 1978, Sujay worked as a television news producer in Boston, Miami and Washington before answering the call to ministry in her mid 20’s. Her introduction to the world of politics occurred in her parents’ living room where people like Assemblyman Keith Wright and City Council member Inez Dinkins often visited. Her brother, the late Charles R. Johnson (CJ), ran for and won a vacated seat in the 76th New York Assembly District in 1978, and, at 27, became the youngest elected official in its history. “Sue J.” and “CJ” were undoubtedly a very noticeable duo, campaigning together for him in the streets and knocking on doors of the predominantly Jewish district in the Bronx. He served three terms, with the likes Charlie Rangel and Charles Schumer. After his public service, C.J. worked with the New York Development Corporation, leaving that job to serve as chief operating officer of the family business until his passing in 2008. Suzan received a masters and a doctorate of Divinity from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio in 1983 and 1990 respectively. She married Ronald Cook and they had two sons: the oldest, Samuel David, just completed his first year at Johns Hopkins University, while 16-year old Christopher Daniel is a 6’3”, 250-pound high school track star. Cook remembers that on Sundays when passing the Pentecostal sisters on the street they would always say, “Pray my strength in the Lord.” “I didn’t know what that meant back then,” she said with a chuckle, but what it means to her now is that “you’re over 50 with two teenage sons, so ya’ll please pray my strength!” A recipient of many awards, Cook is the author of 10 books. She was a founder and board member of the Multi Ethnic Center in New York City and even before she received her ambassadorship, led interfaith delegations to Israel, Jordan and Egypt and travelled to five continents to promote religious freedom. In South Africa, she met with Zulu faith leaders to stimulate interfaith dialogue and tolerance. Wherever she goes and whatever she does, the people in Harlem have a special place in her heart and in her thoughts, because it is they who gave her the rich social, political and spiritual grounding that she can now share with the world. The post of Ambassador for International Religious Freedom has been filled by a modern-day Deborah—the biblical leader, judge and warrior who headed an army to free the Israelites. Filled with vigor, confidence and a power one does not receive from man, Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook is the right woman for the job. “I have a call, I have a commission,” she said deliberately; “and I feel that God has placed me where I am for such a time as this.” Summer 2011 The Positive Community



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The Positive Community Summer 2011


President Lisa S. Coico and the students, faculty and staff of




our neighbors in


and look forward to building new partnerships for our community and our city.

NEW YEAR, NEW PROGRAMS: Essex County College Rolls Out New Certificate Programs for Fall 2011 By Wayne Yourstone Class of 2011 Valedictorian Aline Ngongang. A resident of Orange, NJ, earned a perfect 4.0 average in General Science. She is transferring to Seton Hall and has a goal of entering the medical field.

L-R: Vania Gore, Wanda Acosta and Krystle Hobson, three of 16 LPN graduates in the class of 2011.


ooking to upgrade your job skills? Thinking of a career change? Do you want to be more employable? Essex County College recently announced its new programs for the Fall 2011 academic year; some of the highlights include courses in Green Technology, Accounting and Computer Science. “Green Technology has such an impact on our environmental footprint. We saw an opportunity to be a leader in New Jersey in offering courses that focus on this wave of the future,” said Dr. Scott Mittman, chair of the Biology & Chemistry Division, noting that ECC is one of two community colleges in NJ offering a certificate in Green Technology. The courses include: Principles in Sustainability, Green Facilities Management, Energy Auditing for Residential Buildings, and Introduction to Green Commercial Buildings. While students do not have to take all four of the classes in one semester, the coursework is designed so that the certificate can be earned


The Positive Community Summer 2011

in one semester. The classes will be held in the evening for people either looking to break into or advance in the commercial and residential property management field. “These Green Buildings Facilities Management Technology classes are taught by experts in the field, and are designed specifically for building and facilities management personnel,” added Dr. Mittman. “All of these new certificates have been designed to improve students’ marketability and to support the needs of the global marketplace.” Next up, Essex County College’s Business Division is starting a Professional Accounting Certificate program. Like the Green Technology certificate, this program also has a compressed curriculum that consists of Accounting, Economics and general education classes to produce the 30 credit certificate. “We anticipate this program to serve as a stepping stone for students to advance in the accounting field, both on their way to an

Acting Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dr. Jill Stein and Biology and Chemistry Division Chair Dr. Scott Mittman examine glasses in the newly renovated Vision Care Technology Clinic.

Associate degree here and later in the business world,” said Dr. Michael King, chair of the Division of Business. “It may also be useful to someone who has taken on bookkeeping responsibilities in their present job and wants to learn more about the accounting procedures.” The Computer Specialist Certificate stems from a new collaboration that Essex County College has developed with Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS). The WOS initiative was created by a professor from Columbia University and offers high potential, low-income youth and military veterans the opportunity to attain work experience, an education and ultimately employment. Participants take college-level course at night and are placed in daytime part-time jobs with participating employers, allowing them to get real-world work experience and a quality education simultaneously. ECC will enroll the participants in the for-credit Computer Specialist Continued on page 68 www.thepositivecommunity.com

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Beulah Bible Cathedral Church Revival

L–R: Host Pastor Gerald Lydell Dickson, Beulah Bible Cathedral Church; Pastor J.G. McCann, St. Luke Baptist Church, NYC and Dr. Telis Chapman, guest preacher.


he Spirit of the Lord God filled the temple and ministered to the overflow seeking to hear a Word from God during the two-night City Revival on June 16 and 17 at Beulah Bible Cathedral Church in Newark, NJ. "Do what you gotta do! God uses leftovers for His glory," declared guest preacher, Dr. Telis Chapman, of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, MI. Praises went up and all were blessed as each one received what they needed to be strengthened in their faith.

College Completion Program

On Sunday, June 18, a special service honoring fathers was held. Among those gathered in the photo above are L–R: first row: Pastor Gerald Lydell Dickson, next to him Deacon Douglas Baptist; also, young men front center Christopher Barrino, James Godley (hands clasped)and Matthew Barrino. James Godley Sr. is in the 3rd row, 2nd from right and Erskine Barrino is in the last row (left) in the white jacket. Praise, glory and honor, all to God!!


The Positive Community Summer 2011


North Jersey Baptist Confab


he North Jersey Missionary Baptist Association hosted its 98th Annual Session under the leadership of Moderator Rev. Dr. Lester W. Taylor Jr., pastor of Community Baptist Church of Englewood. The theme of this year’s five-day conference was taken from ACTS: 5:29-31—“Unstoppable Movement.”

Rev. Allen S. Potts, host pastor of Greater Abyssinian B.C., Newark with Dr. Lester Taylor, moderator of North Jersey District Missionary Baptist Association.

Photos: Vincent Bryant

Community partners Charlotte Kinsey of UnitedHealthcare and Sharon Fleming of Journeys Unlimited Travel with Moderator Taylor

Community Partners:


Summer 2011 The Positive Community


Photo courtesy of Alpha Phi Alphi

R–L: Jonathan G. Leon, regional assistant vice president East; Sean McCaskill, regional vice president East; Rev. Canon Thomas W.S. Logan, Sr. and Bro. Herman "Skip" Mason, Jr., general president

Alpha Phi Alpha 105th Anniversary “A Global Vision for Brotherhood: Gateway to the Dream.”


lpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the world’s oldest intercollegiate fraternity founded by African American men, held its 105th Anniversary Convention themed “A Global Vision for Brotherhood: Gateway to the Dream.” More than 10,000 people attended the convention at the Hilton Chicago Hotel June 21–25, including more than 2,500 Alpha men. Among them was the Rev. Canon Thomas W.S. Logan, Sr., age 99, the oldest living Alpha brother. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha for 78 years, he pledged Alpha Omicron Chapter at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC in 1933. Logan attended the convention with his 100-year-old wife, Hermione. “I admired my father,” said Bro. Logan. “He was an Episcopal minister for 51 years. When I knew he was an Alpha man, I wanted to go Alpha. My father had six sons, and all the sons went Alpha. He had two grandsons, and they went Alpha. That's nine blood [relatives of mine)— nine." When he asked if the fraternity had changed over the years, Logan replied, “The aim is (still) high and I [still] find it exciting. Our President Mason is really a great leader. A smart man from Morehouse.” On having led the charge to make Alpha's National Convention religious service an ecumenical service, he recalled, “I took the Alpha Phi Alpha worship service out of the church and put it into a hotel at Convention


The Positive Community Summer 2011

“ I am so pleased that the

brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity came to Chicago to celebrate its global expansion with new chapters in South Africa, London, Liberia, and the Bahamas

and made it ecumenical. Now it's a very large spectacle.” Logan served as the Fraternity's National Chaplain under the leadership of 23rd General President Ernest N. Morial (1969-1972). “I am so pleased that the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity came to Chicago to celebrate its global expansion with new chapters in South Africa, London, Liberia, and the Bahamas,” said Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity General President Herman “Skip” Mason Jr. “We were honored to also cite and recognize the courageous men and women who sacrificed their lives during the Civil www.thepositivecommunity.com


11JUN ATS Positive Community 4-5x4-5_Nyack 7/1/11 10:11 AM Page 1

and Enter to Win Tickets: The Bernstien Bears Baby It's You! Memphis WNBA's NY Liberty @ Prudential Center www.thepositivecommunity.com Rights Movement. We invite the world to join us as we head to Washington, D.C., in August for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.” As is the tradition, the Alphas gave back in many ways throughout the convention. Many members were accompanied by their mentees, who received daily mentoring and educational support. “Because Alpha is concerned about the total development of young African American boys, we saluted Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy with a donation to support its mission as we continue to move young boys from the high chair to higher education,” said Mason. “Lastly, Alpha men moved into the communities of Chicago with the ‘Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program’ to ensure that Chicago men receive health screenings.” Alphas in both medical and non-medical professions participated Saturday, June 25, in the fraternity’s “Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program,” a nationwide initiative that encourages African American men to be screened for diabetes and hypertension at shops in their communities. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the White House, the program aims to eventually screen more than 500,000 African American men nationally. Included among Saturday’s Chicago stops was Ron’s Place Barber Salon, which served President Barack Obama when he lived in Hyde Park. www.thepositivecommunity.com

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Still Accepting Applications Call 845-770-5701 to RSVP or visit our web at: www.Nyack.edu or facebook.com/nyackcollege.

Nyack, NY • New York, NY

On Wednesday, June 22, the Public Program and General President’s Reception featured a live performance by Grammy- and Tony Award-winning singer Jennifer Holliday, a keynote address from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, with Brother Tim Reid, an actor best known for his role on TV’s Sister to Sister, serving as master of ceremonies. Reid told the standing-room-only audience that people always thought he was an Alpha because the character he played on the hit show was a member. Reid—who recently was inducted into the fraternity— also is the father of an Alpha. During the Public Program, fellow African American fraternities and sororities announced and presented donations to the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. announced a donation of $50,000; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., donated $50,000; Phi Beta Sigma, Inc., donated $10,000; Iota Phi Theta, Inc. donated $10,000; Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. donated $20,000; Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. donated $20,000; Zeta Phi Beta, Inc. donated $20,000; Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. donated $20,000. According to the website www.mlkmemorial.org, more than $112 million of the project’s $120 million goal has been raised to date. Alpha Phi Alpha-sponsored legislation led to the development of the project. The MLK Memorial dedication will take place Aug. 28, 2011, in Washington, D.C. Summer 2011 The Positive Community



Fountain Baptist Church Summit, NJ Eboni Christina Gonzalez Bachelor of Arts Saint Peter’s College Sociology

Brittney Dillingham Bachelor of Arts Clark Atlanta University Mass Media Communications Kellee Blades Bachelor of Arts Spelman College English

Ceaphas Stubbs Bachelor of Arts Rutgers University Visual Arts/ Art History

Lindsay Christina Scott Bachelor of Arts Montclair State University Broadcasting

Justin Woesley Bachelor of Arts Montclair State University Broadcasting

Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church PHS 2011

Shalekiah Monique Patrice Barton is a graduating senior of Brooklyn community Arts and Media High School. Shalekiah has been accepted to Mercy College where she will pursue her Bachelor of Science in Music Industry and Technology.


Christopher Clark graduated with an Associates degree in Applied Sciences with a concentration in Accounting from CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College. He plans to pursue a Bachelors degree and beyond at CUNY Brooklyn College.

The Positive Community Summer 2011

Amanda Simone Fields is from Brooklyn, New York and attend Benjamin Banneker Academy for Community Development. She will attend Clark Atlanta University.

William Brannon, UCC; Jamese Glenn, Cosmotolgy and Roland Offley, PBOE


Keep Summer Safe and Fun! S ummer is a time of exploration and fun. Here are some tips to keep your child healthy and safe this summer.

• Go over the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bike, skateboard, or roller skating.

• Keep fireworks out of your child’s hands. • Remind your child to swim safely by following the rules at the pool, lake, or ocean. Working together, parents, teachers, and school staff can keep summer fun – and safe – for children so they return to school refreshed and ready to learn.

New Jersey Education Association Barbara Keshishian, President Wendell Steinhauer, Vice President • Marie Blistan, Secretary-Treasurer www.thepositivecommunity.com SummerDirector/Research 2011 The Positive Community Vincent Giordano, Executive Director • Richard Gray, Assistant Executive Director 59

Culture M U S I C ,




Vy Higginsen Is On A Blessed Mission . . . and You Can Help By Linda Armstrong

nyone who has experienced gospel music knows that it inspires, teaches and uplifts the soul. Gospel music is a powerful means of expression that originated with African Americans, a fact that Vy Higginsen is determined to pass on to young people through her Mama Foundation for the Arts. The goal of the foundation, which she started in 1998, Higginsen explained, “is to make sure we save this gospel music and that people are clear on who created it. We were in danger of losing this export. You have to know who you are and where you come from musically. I created the Mama Foundation because the schools weren’t recognizing musical talent. We find that if you recognize the musical genius, these kids are gifted,” Through the foundation, Higginsen has a School for Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts where she trains talented singers, musicians and arrangers. “We help develop singers’ vocal power and stage presence as well as teach a substantial musical repertoire. Participants have the opportunity to develop the habits and attitudes that create success in any endeavor,” Higginsen said. In 2006 Higginsen, along with Dr. Emily “Cissy” Houston began a program for teens that focused entirely on gospel music entitled, Gospel for Teens. The program is for young people ages 13-19 and is entirely free. All teens have to do is audition. The program works to develop the talents of 100 teenagers each year. Once involved, they do more



than sing gospel; they learn music history and vocal techniques and build their self confidence to perform on stage. Gospel for Teens members have performed at the Apollo Theater, American Museum of Natural History and St. Paul Community Baptist Church; the program has also been featured on ABC News and 60 Minutes. Although the program has received a great deal of positive press, it needs funding. Higginsen shared, “We applied for 36 grants and received 36 rejection letters.” She outlined her wish list. “We need a Canon 5-D camera so we can document the activities; we need to set up a recording space inside the building; we need additional instruments that we can take with us when we’re doing personal appearances, better microphones, more full-time staff and to expand the program to serve more youth.” continued on next page

Summer 2011 The Positive Community


So to raise funds, Higginsen reached into her artistic bag of tricks and revived her popular musical, Mama, I Want To Sing, this time as Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation. Mounted in March of 1983 on a shoestring budget, the original play went on to became the longestrunning black musical ever with 2,500 performances in New York and another 1,000 performances throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan.


The play details the life of Higginsen’s real-life sister Doris Troy, who began singing in their father’s church and then had a successful secular singing career. Reflecting on why she wrote this beloved musical, Higginsen said, “I created it because my sister told me these stories about my family when I would be out on tour with her in Europe. We would talk about my father because I didn’t know my father—I was an infant when he died. When I found out that my father was preaching when he had a heart attack, I felt compelled to write about it.” Now at the Dempsey Theatre in Harlem, Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation is a must see! Higginsen proclaims, “It’s good for the entire family. It doesn’t have any cursing. It’s good, clean family entertainment like a black Disney. We have from toddlers to grandparents and great-grandparents in the audience.” The show is often patronized by church groups, social groups, sororities, and block associations and offers marvelous discounts for groups of 10 or more, who can also use it as a fundraiser. If gospel music holds a special place in your heart and you want to support Higginsen’s mission to make sure our youth stay connected to their musical heritage, you can assist by individual donations, supporting the teen concerts and special events, and buying the merchandise like DVD, CDs and t-shirts. Remounting Mama I Want To Sing, now called, Mama I Want To Sing: The Next Generation is proving to be a good idea. Higginsen explained that the show is so popular it has been extended through August 27 and will come back to run October 1 through December 2011 at the Dempsey Theatre at 127 W 127th Street.

Summer 2011 The Positive Community


Whose report will you believe? We shall believe the report of the Lord His report says I am healed His report says I am filled His report says I am free


His report says victory

PASTOR DEWAYNE HARVEY & GREATER BLESSINGS TABERNACLE OF PRAISE SAYS LET’S “CELEBRATE!” Grace & Peace! astor DeWayne Harvey & Greater Blessings command that we celebrate our God, and Pastor Harvey has good reason to celebrate. He has an awesome testimony that changed his life as well as strengthened his passion in ministry. The group’s fifth album, The Report of the Lord, debuted at number16 on Billboard’s gospel album charts “We have songs like ‘Nobody Greater’ and ‘Celebrate’ DEWAYNE HARVEY where we come together in unity and just thank God for all that he’s done,” explained Harvey. “‘Let’s Go Back’ is a song about doing the things that caused us to be great and saved… Every song is a wonderful song and I believe that it will bless the body of Christ because they [the songs] have blessed our congregation.” A singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and humanitarian, it seems that Harvey’s life is an example of the gospel that his music represents. Like most successful gospel artists, the seeds were planted as a child. He grew up in Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church in Florida and by 13 he was the director of the adult choir. Harvey founded The Greater Blessings Tabernacle in Tallahassee and serves as the minister of music for the growing congregation. “I happen to be the oldest one there and I’m in my early 40’s,” Harvey revealed. “It’s housed between two of the largest campuses in the state of Florida and packed with college students from Florida A&M along with the State University campus— who love to praise the Lord. Even my praise team is a bunch of college students who praise God with every-



The Positive Community Summer 2011

thing they have.” Harvey continued, “Our church is a different kind of church as far as the order of service. I will begin to sing a song in the middle of the service and the young praise team members are so in tune with me that we can take a song and go in like we’ve known it for years. Those are what we call ‘the songs of the Lord’ and it’s what we wanted to capture on the CD as well.” Harvey wants to share his testimony with as many souls as possible and finds his music is a blessing that allows him to do that. “I tell my testimony everywhere I go; this is the catalyst of my album,” he shared. Part of that testimony is a harrowing ordeal that stemmed from a terrible case of sleep apnea and the complications from the surgery performed to correct it. “I woke up and the thing they were trying to correct had worsened. I was gasping for breath in the recovery room…I could no longer breathe,” Harvey recalled. “I gasped until I got tired, I could see my wife walk out . . . The nurse immediately started praying for me, and when I came to again, I heard the devil say, ‘I got you now! No more singing, no more preaching, no more recording—it’s all over.’ I recall being rushed back into the operating room and I came to one last time, and that’s when I heard the Lord say, ‘BE HEALED!’ And without even knowing, I grabbed on to the report of the Lord. Even to this day, I know it and I hold on to it. Now what better time to release an album with that title? With the economy down and the world being so negative and saying that everyone is in lack, I believe what the bible says and He will sustain those who are faithful and believe in Him during the time of famine. So I’m going around telling everyone and anybody, no matter what the enemy tries to tell you, ‘Believe the report of the Lord!’” Already looking toward the future, Pastor Harvey is now working on his first solo project—most of the songs will be his own masterpieces. “I’ve always done albums with groups, and God has said ‘It’s time for you to do a solo project’” So, Harvery is working toward an album release in early 2012, but until then, The Report of the Lord should keep you uplifted and serve as a healing for your ears. www.thepositivecommunity.com

GOSPEL TOP TEN Available at Zoe Christian Bookstore and at www.cdbaby.com

Upcoming Special Issue!

September Education Issue

To Advertise Call:

Kirk Frankin- I Smile Vashawn Mitchell- Nobody Greater William McDowell- I Give Myself Away Troy Sneed- My Heart Says Yes Marvin Sapp- He Has His Hands On You Canton Jones- Window Trinitee 5:7- Over and Over

973-233-9200 or Email:

Dawnkins & Dawkins- Get Down

Positive.corp@verizon.net for rates & deadlines

Richard Smallwood- Trust Me King- Greatful


Summer 2011 The Positive Community



The Positive Community Summer 2011




5K RUN R E M E M B E R I N G 9/11






Join us in Harlem

as we celebrate fitness and community. This year we also honor the memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and promote a “New York State of Mind” of unity, diversity, and tolerance. And we join “Hands Across the Sea” in a tribute and salute to Japan following this year’s earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear crisis. Learn more and register at nyrr.org.


(West 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue)



-The New Yorker

Visit TELECHARGE.COM or call 212-239-6200 • BabyItsYouOnBroadway.com •


The Positive Community Summer 2011

BROADHURST THEATRE www.thepositivecommunity.com

COHEN’S FASHION OPTICAL 86 W. 125th St. & Lenox Ave, Harlem, NY • 212-996-2676 Experience the best in eyecare and eyewear. Visit the Cohen’s Fashion Optical at 125th Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem today.



$99 Eyeglass Special

$99 Disposable Contacts

Select frame with clear plastic, single vision or FT28 lined bifocal lenses +/- 4 sph, 2 cyl., up to 2.50 add. Not valid with any other offers, sales, vision plans or packages. Must present prior to purchase. Offer ends 9/30/11. FSI

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Single vision or Bifocal Lenses & Fashion Frame


Includes Eye Exam and 2 Boxes of Lenses

Summer 2011 The Positive Community


Essex County College Continued from page 52

program where they will learn a variety of computer, communications and business skills. “We want to give them the tools they need to succeed in the working world,” Dr. King said. Returning and new students at Essex will be greeted by renovated and upgraded science laboratories at the main Newark campus, featuring state-of-the-art equipment. As part of renovation, the Vision Care Technology clinic was repositioned for higher visibility, and provides wonderful clinical space where students work to prepare eyeglasses for patients. “The renovations have created a realistic business setting for the students, very similar to what they find in the workplace,” said Dr. Norman Schussler, chair of the Division of Nursing and Allied Health. With campuses in Newark and West Caldwell, Essex County College offers more than 60 associate degree and certificate programs. The Essex County College Police Academy in Cedar Grove offers courses in police and fire training. Essex County College, your community college, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, students’ course credits can be transferrable to other colleges or universities, and financial aid and federal grants are available to qualified students. Additional information on all ECC programs is available at essex.edu.

For more information call Portia Gardner @ 914-450-4269 68

The Positive Community Summer 2011


Photos: Vincent Bryant

Soul Line Dancing #1 in Newark


oul Line Dancing has become an entertainment phenomenon in Newark. Every second Friday, hundreds gather for fellowship, fitness and fun. The next event will take place on Friday, August 12 at the Terrace Ballroom, Newark Symphony Hall. Bring your friends and get your dance on!



AUGUST • SEPTEMBER APR. •• MAY 13 APR. 8 8 12 MAY 13 •• JUNE JUNE 10 10 9

Friday, Friday, 5:00 5:00 pm pm –– 12:00 12:00 am am Terrace Ballroom JAN. Terrace Ballroom JAN. 14 14 •• FEB. FEB. 11 11 •• M M

Scrumptious Dinners Available by Eclectic • Music by DJ Joe Smith Scrumptious Dinners Available AllCatering Evening

Scrumptious Dinners Available All Evening Line Line Dance Dance Lessons Lessons with with Kenny Kenny J: J: 5:00 5:00 -- 7:00 7:00 pm pm Ladies Ladies and and Gentlemen Gentlemen Free Free Admission Admission Before Before 7pm 7pm ($10 ($10 After After 7pm) 7pm) Raffl Raffle e Prizes Prizes ● ● $5 $5 Wine Wine ● ● $5 $5 Beer Beer ● ● $3 $3 Drink Drink Specials Specials

Tickets can be purchased at the Newark Symphony Hall Box Office located at 1030 Broad St. Newark, NJ Tickets can be purchased at the Newark Symphony Hall Box Office located at 1030 Broad St. Newark, NJ For information call: (973) 643-8014 or www.newarksymphonyhall.org For information call: (973) 643-8014 or www.newarksymphonyhall.org www.thepositivecommunity.com

Summer 2011 The Positive Community


Eastern Baptist Association of New York 90th Session


ev. Dr. Alvin Barnett, moderator, called the 90th Annual Session of the Eastern Baptist Association to order on July 8, 2011 at Union Baptist Church in Hempstead, NY. where Rev. Sedgwick V. Easley is pastor. The Eastern Baptist Association represents approximately 400 churches in Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties. Rev. Barnett is pastor of West Baptist Church in East New York.

Rev. Sedgwick V. Easley and Rev. Ronald Grant

Dr. Alvin Barnett

Brothers Rev. William Watson and Rev. Cornelius Watson Awarding scholarships to 2011 graduates

Rev. Isaac B. Graham with United Missionary Baptist Assoc. historian, Rev. Dr. William L. Watkins Jr. Photos: Bruce Moore

Bishop and Mrs. Winthrop J. Pippin

Altar Call


The Positive Community Summer 2011


A Different Renaissance in Harlem

Two pastors at the forefront of a spiritual awakening BY GLENDA CADOGAN

Pastor Michael Walrond, Jr.

ecades after the cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance gave rise to critically acclaimed pieces of black literature, art and music, there is another renaissance taking place in Harlem. This time, it is a spiritual renaissance that is waking the soul of this vibrant community. At the center of this movement is the collective black church—historically one of the first institutions established by African Americans in this country in their fight against oppression. And as this movement continues to reverberate from uptown to downtown, youth and young adults are flocking to the church in unprecedented numbers. And with this growing tide, young people are leaving their footprints in the sands of time by making sure that their voices, their presence and their verve are felt and measured. At the forefront of building this movement are two pastors, themselves members of the 40-something club. Rev. Michael Walrond Jr. and Dr. Jesse Williams Jr. are pastors—leaders in this Joshua generation, who are not just rebuilding the physical walls of the temple but creating a new paradigm, the likes of which speak to the heart of a younger generation. The message of salvation is the same but it’s wrapped in a new



Pastor Jesse Williams

package that carries the labels of our 21st Century world. Collectively, their respective congregations—First Corinthians Baptist Church and Convent Avenue Baptist Church— are close to 10,000 strong in membership. In addition, both pastors are not just charismatic preachers in their own right, but share a passion for social justice issues, advocacy ministry and young people. With fearless determination, they are leading their congregations toward the national spotlight and are indeed God’s chosen men “for such a time as this.” Pastor Michael Walrond Jr.: A Letter on the Table That Changed a Lifetime in the World If it were not for an accident on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn and a few other mitigating circumstances strung together, the man affectionately called “Pastor Mike” by his congregation would have been in the United States Navy. As he tells the story, he made the decision to enlist because he had accepted as fact that he was one of those students who would never go to college. After graduating high school he was placed in a program for at-risk youth and eventually was recruited by the Navy. However, he was classified as “temporarSummer 2011 The Positive Community


A DIFFERENT RENAISSANCE continued from previous page

ily disqualified” pending submission of a doctor’s letter about a preexisting condition. His recruiting officer decided to drive him to the doctor’s office located on Long Island. “We were actually on the way to the doctor’s office when the accident tied up the traffic on the Belt Parkway,” said Pastor Mike. “Because of this, we arrived late and the doctor’s office was closed. So instead, I decided to drop in at my mom’s house. On the table was a letter from Morehouse College. It said: ‘Congratulations, you have been accepted.’” Being accepted to Morehouse marked the beginning of Pastor Mike’s journey to ministry and subsequently to senior pastor of First Corinthians Baptist Church. “After being rejected by so many other colleges, I embraced Morehouse as a blessing,” opined Pastor Mike. He subsequently learned that a counselor at the at-risk program in which he was enrolled — himself Morehouse alumni — had written the college on his behalf. “I seized every opportunity to turn my life around. I became the freshman class president and changed everything about myself including my appearance. I was trying to be everything I knew I could be. But on the inside, I felt strange, as though I was losing my mind.” And then it happened — October 29, 1989. The Breakthrough He recalls the date of his “salvation” with a vivid accuracy as though it was yesterday, but it was October 29, 1989. It was an otherwise routine day until Pastor Mike stepped into the shower. “I had no idea why, but I just started crying and could not stop,” he recalls. “I was crying uncontrollably and my roommate repeatedly asked me what was wrong. But not a word could come out of my mouth.” It was about 20 minutes into this “breakdown” that the “breakthrough” came. “My roommate asked me again, ‘Mike what’s wrong?’ Finally, I opened my mouth and what came out was, ‘I’m going to be a preacher.’ No one in my family is a preacher and it’s certainly nothing I had ever thought about before,” he explained. “But I called a friend and said, ‘I’m going to church with you.’ The next day I went to the Dean’s office and changed my major to philosophy and religion.”

This time, it is a spiritual renaissance that is waking the soul of this vibrant community. At the center of this movement is the collective black church—historically one of the first institutions established by African Americans in this country in their fight against oppression.

Even in the face of that determined move, Pastor Mike never thought that he would be a pastor. “The truth is I thought I did not have the patience to be a pastor.” But God already had another design drawn on the blueprints of his life and legacy. Reinvention He was pastor of the Zion Temple United Church of Christ in Durham, NC and University Minister at Duke University, when in 2004, he took a $50,000 pay cut in order to come to First Corinthians Baptist Church on the pure conviction that it’s where God wanted him to be. But the challenges he met when he got to Harlem were great and the laborers were few. “What I met when I came here was a congregation of about 300 members, low morale, and an edifice that was in disrepair,” he said, adding, “The task before me was daunting.” But instead of being hamstrung by these conditions, Pastor Mike reinvented himself and his congregation and in the process, grew its membership to 6,000. “At first we tried doing traditional ministry and I dressed as the typical pastor in robes and all that. But that isn’t who I am. I didn’t want to be fraudulent and put forth an image that wasn’t really who I was at the core,” he declared. So Pastor Mike opted for his now customary jeans and button-down shirts when he preaches. Then he started building a different model for ministry. “I wanted a model that would be attractive to 15-30 year-olds…I remember when I was that age and how far removed I felt from the minister. So my aim was not just to build ministry but community.” Commissioned to serve According to Pastor Mike, his actions stem from his belief that “there is no one who is beyond the scope of experiencing transformation. The problem is that we make so many assumptions, especially about young people, that we have lost the art of listening to them. We have become so presumptuous about their needs and what they should be doing that we have stopped listening to their concerns, their hurts and their struggles.” He continued, “But I take my cues from Jesus. By his example I see that he never made assumptions about people even the infirm and the homeless. Instead, he asked them: ‘What would you have me to do?’ So in this way, my target is not at-risk youth but at-risk human beings.” With Pastor Mike, who just turned 40, boldly leading the charge, the members of the congregation at First Corinthians Baptist Church live true to their purpose statement as “an ever evolving community of visionaries and dreamers, called by God to live the lives they were created to live, commanded by God to live beyond measure of prejudices and commissioned by God to serve. Rev. Dr. Jesse Williams Jr.: Advocacy Ministry at a Desperate Time Encouraged by his family and friends and embracing the continued on next page


The Positive Community Summer 2011


A DIFFERENT RENAISSANCE continued from previous page

feeling that had pulled at his heart strings for many years, Rev. Dr. Jesse Williams Jr. abandoned a promising career as an engineer to answer God’s call to ministry. And like his contemporary, Pastor Mike, he has committed his efforts to not just saving souls, but advocating for social justice issues and young people. Born in Akron, OH, he accepted his call to ministry at the age of 19 while still an undergraduate student at the University of Kansas. “I’ve always felt a higher calling on my life and that God had something more for me to do,” says Dr. Williams. “Ministry was a natural fit for my life.” In 2007, while pastor of the historic Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO, where he had served for 16 years, he was called to pastor the celebrated Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem. “The congregation was committed to community involvement and service and with this in mind had a number of practical ministries,” Dr. Williams recalled. “I shared their passion for community involvement and serving people who are most in need. In this way, the congregation was a great match for my personality, because I truly believe that the calling of the church is similar to that of Jesus Christ, which is to heal the broken hearted, reach out to the poor and oppressed and those who often have no voice in the community.” Purpose and passion One of the voiceless populations for whom Dr. Williams has been a vocal advocate is the millions of minimum wage workers in New York City. In his brand of advocacy ministry, Dr. Williams has purposely and passionately led the charge by championing the living wage legislation currently before the New York City Council. The bill requires employers and developers who benefit from tax subsidies to pay employees a minimum living wage of $10 an hour or $11.50, if there are no benefits. “To me this is an issue of economic justice,” avowed Dr. Williams. “If developers are going to benefit from our tax dollars, then they should provide workers with a living wage and treat them with dignity.” With the support of the 3,000 members on the roll at Convent Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Williams has risen to the challenges of leading and mobilizing the church toward a common vision. “Sometimes when our efforts are divided in so many different ways, it is difficult to be as strong as we can be if we are unified and joined together for a common cause,” he said. “So my aim is to take the many different pieces that were a part of Convent and bring them under a common vision and purpose.” Attracting young people In doing so, the church has been blessed with increasing numbers of young people who feel they have found a home.


The Positive Community Summer 2011

Williams, 47, concedes that this effort has, in part, been intentional. “Part of this new surge is simply based on the fact that I am a younger image of the one that a lot of people have in their minds of pastors being older men.” He continued, “But some of it is because I am sensitive to the language and symbols that are important to young people. So I try to preach using examples and analogies that resonate with this demographic. Part of my mission is in helping young people to understand that God made them special, with purpose and meaning for their lives. So, if they are to find joy, they have to do so by finding purpose in God. Though I have a great deal of appreciation for senior citizens because they have laid the foundation for us in most of our historic churches, I believe that if the church is going to survive into the future, then we must train future leaders.” Positive change One of the ways in which Williams has urged his congregation to remain relevant to young people is by instituting a weekly children-and-youth-worship service. “What it takes to draw young people to the church is to be present, relevant and show them that you care, and that’s what I aim to do by being a presence within the church community and visiting and sharing with them.” Like the rest of Harlem, the congregation at Convent is ever changing in its ethnic diversity. But rather than being an issue, Williams embraces this change as “a positive one.” “My vision of the Kingdom of God is one that consists of all different kinds of people,” he explained. “At Convent we have people from all over the world and from varied nationalities. I think that this lends to the richness of our experience as sons and daughters of God. Harlem is a great community, but there is a lot of hurt and pain. This is the practical and social justice part of my calling that I take very seriously. Therefore, I am determined to be a loud voice of hope, blessings and good news.” Pastor Mike Walrond and Dr. Jessie Williams: The Epitome of Servant Leaders. Despite the impact their ministries are having on not just Harlem, but the country, both Pastor Mike and Dr. Williams remain humble to their calling, thereby epitomizing the concept of servant leaders. They harbor a common hope of simply being remembered as having made a difference in someone else’s life. Pastor Mike expressed it this way: “I would be happy if when people talk of me they say that I helped others to navigate this labyrinth called life and that when they encountered me, something about their life changed for the better,” Dr. Williams concurred, adding, “I want to be remembered as someone who helped people and when they met me their lives were transformed for the better.” www.thepositivecommunity.com

Photos: Wali Amin Muhammad

Backstage at Gospelfest

KISS-FM’s Toya Beasley, who hosted the show with WLIB's Bishop Hezikiah Walker

L-R: Jason, Buzz Willis, Marc Williams Back row: Stephen Council and Bill Casey

L–R: Min. Louise Scott Rountree, Gospel legend, Dr. Bobby Jones and Newark Municipal Councilmember Mildred Crump

Gospel Music Month in Newark

Photo: Vincent Bryant

Photos: Don Sherrill

L-R: Mayor Cory Booker with Dr. Albert Lewis, the Father of Gospel Music Month

The kids of the Newark Symphony Hall Special Ensemble—winners of the 2011 McDonald's Gospelfest—were honored by the Newark Municipal Council


The Positive Community Summer 2011

L-R: Mayor Cory Booker with A. Curtis Farrow


n June 3, 201l, the City of Newark kicked off the official celebration of Gospel Music Month with a ceremony in the Newark Municipal Council Chambers. Gospel Music Month, which is recognized throughout the state, was conceived by impresario and gospel music legend Dr. Albert Lewis 29 years ago. Each year, Lewis, called the “Father of Gospel Music Month,” oversees and produces a series of gospel concerts throughout the month. Mayor Cory Booker presented Dr. Lewis with a Newark wrist watch and official proclamation of Gospel Music Month. A, Curtis Farrow was honored for his dedication to gospel music as the producer of McDonald’s Gospelfest and for revolutionizing the competition, which now includes steppers, rappers, and a showcase of gospel music recording stars. www.thepositivecommunity.com


(Madea’s Family Reunion). Paul Bratcher’s Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places, was his gospel and theatrical debut for adults. In 2008, he followed up with his sophomore project, He Who Findeth a Good Wife, Findeth A Good Thing, which featured R&B singers Montell Jordan and Vonzell Solomon (American Idol) at the Tarrytown Music Hall. Tickets for A Mended Heart are $10 and available at www.smarttix.com and 212 868 4444.

ugust is hot in every way! As you have noticed throughout this issue, there is so much good cultural entertainment available during the summer. Sometimes it can get overwhelming, and sitting down with a cool glass of lemonade seems mighty attractive. However, Psalm 118:24 says “This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” So, for those days when you’re looking for some active rejoicing, here are a few things for your consideration:


JAZZ @ THE CRYPT, Friday, August 12, 8pm The Church of the Intercession, Rev. Jose R. Gandara Perea, S.T.L., Priest-In-Charge 550 W. 155 Street, New York, NY 212 283 6200, www.intercessionnyc.org This ongoing monthly series presents a salute to Hawaiian culture with New York artists featuring music, art, dancing and food. The event is curated by artist Tommy Theng, whose work will be on display. The Next Jazz @ The Crypt is Friday, August 26 at 8pm. You can visit the church’s website for further details as they are confirmed.

A MENDED HEART, A Musical by Paul Bratcher Sat, August 13, 6pm (Rain Date Aug 14. 3pm) Theater on the Cliff, 44 Wildcliff Road, New Rochelle, NY Written and directed by Westchester native Paul Bratcher, this stage play follows the life of a woman as she struggles to deal with issues of trust and infidelity with the man she once loved. It stars Malinda DanielHodge (Every Dog Has Its Day) and Romello Cooper www.thepositivecommunity.com

HARLEM IS … GOSPEL EXHIBITION & FILM Ongoing Through February 2012 Dwyer Cultural Center, 258 St. Nicholas Avenue (enter on W. 123rd Street) 212 222 3060 Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Jamal Joseph, Harlem is…GOSPEL explores the stories and experiences of the music makers and spiritual leaders in a most notable home for the Gospel tradition— Harlem. Through showing Gospel’s historical importance in social change in New York, its place as an emotional epicenter for the people and community, and its role as the expression of pain and joy of a culture, the film honors the soul of this hallmark of American traditional music and its global impact. It features interviews with Harlem Gospel notables such as Charles Mack, Dr. Patrice E. Turner, Ruby Dee, Pastor Michael A. Walrond Jr., Rev. Dr. Renee Washington Gardner, and Vy Higginsen, whose voices bring life to the film’s narrative and show Gospel’s rich influence on Harlem. (30 Minutes). If you’re coming to Harlem for Harlem Week, you might want to come early and stop in and view this exhibition. The film is available for screening to groups by special request. You can also visit their website to see an excerpt of the film. www.dwyercc.org Flo Wiley is a disciple at Memorial Baptist Church in Harlem, where Rev. Dr. Renee Washington Gardner is Senior Pastor. She is a founding member of Memorial’s arts ministry, an award-winning actress (AUDELCO, 1978), acting teacher and public speaking coach, an independent producer and publicist, and since 2001 the host of Black Beat New York: The Flo Wiley Show on Harlem Community Radio broadcast each Thursday from 6 to 7pm at WHCR 90.3 FM & online at www.whcr.org. Please let me know about arts and cultural events taking place at, or sponsored by, your church: spiritandimage@thepositivecommunity.com. Summer 2011 The Positive Community


Soledad O’Brien NCBW 100 Woman of the Year


he National Coalition of One Hundred Black Women Bergen/Passaic chapter held their 25th Fundraising Gala on June 4, 2011 at The Paslisadium in Cliffside Park, NJ. Soledad O’Brien, CNN reporter and special correspondent was honored as Woman of the Year. Pat Battle, WNBC-TV News reporter and her husband, Anthony Johnson, WABC-TV News reporter served as hosts for the evening.

L–R: Pat Battle and Anthony Johnson

L-R: Assemblywoman Elease Evans; Attorney General Paula Dow; Deborah Witcher Jackson, president, NCBW 100 Bergen/Passaic and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle Photos: Don Sherrill

L–R: Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan; Corethia Oates; Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno; Hon. Sandra Ann Robinson; Janice G. Johnson, NCBW 100 Bergen/Passaic


The Positive Community Summer 2011

L–R: Honoree (Woman of the Year) Soledad O’Brien, CNN reporter and special correspondent; Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Assemblywoman Elease Evans, Senator Loretta Weinberg and Deborah Witcher Jackson, president NCBW 100 Bergen/Passaic



357 7th Ave New York, New York 1 (212) 594-6697 www.panzai.com

Haute Couture Men's • Women's • Pastoral Robes Design Ensembles

It's Okay to be Extraordinary

NJ Governor Honors Team Walker NJ Hero Photos: Tim Larsen

Governor Chris Christie, First Lady Mary Pat Christie and the fifth NJ Hero, Jerry Walker, with students in Jersey City, N.J.


The Positive Community Summer 2011

Governor Chris Christie and First Lady Mary Pat Christie announce the fifth NJ Hero, Jerry Walker, in Jersey City, N.J. on Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Jerry Walker created Team Walker who created programs that provide safe and constructive alternatives to the negative influences that plague inner city youth. (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)


Spelman Alumnae Honored


For more information about the Spelman Alumnae chapter, please email newyork@naasc.org.

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president, Spelman College

L–R: Laurie Cumbo, keynote speaker Tai Beauchamp and Malikha Mallette, honorary chair Photos: Joseph Singletary

n Saturday, June 4 the New York Chapter of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College held its Annual Virginia T. Dowell Endowment Scholarship fundraiser at the Alvin Ailey Studios in midtown Manhattan. This year's theme was "Take Action: Our Legacy, Her Future." The keynote speaker was Spelman College graduate, media industry and style maven Tai Beauchamp, who also delivered a report from Spelman College President Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum regarding Spelman students, First Lady Michelle Obama as the speaker at the 2011graduation and fundraising. In addition to a silent auction and live music, three Spelman alumnae were honored. Randreta N. Ward-Evans, board chair of the Riverside Theatre and longtime Harlem resident, received the Shining Star award for her outstanding service to the Spelman and New York communities. Rising Star Awardees were Kelli Coleman, executive vice president of Corporate Communications for GlobaHue and Christina Joseph, coordinator for Special Programs and Professional Development for the Malave Leadership Academy. Krystle Watler served as benefit chair.

Rev. Calvin O. Butts III (r), senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem presented the Shining Star Award to Rendreta Ward-Evans.

Tai Beauchamp, keynote speaker

Coca Cola Foundation: Empowering Women Scholars at HBCUs Photo: Margot Jordan


he Coca-Cola Foundation recently awarded $125,000 to five Louisiana historically black colleges and universities to help empower women scholars to complete their educations.

L–R: Lori George Billingsley, vice president, Community Connections, Coca-Cola Refreshments; Shakiyah Huston and Nikita Peter; Ingrid Saunders Jones, chairperson, The Coca-Cola Foundation; Coca-Cola Polar Bear; New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; scholarship students Alexandria Packer, Southern University in Baton Rouge and Cybil Mashia, Southern University in New Orleans; Kimberly Evans Paige, assistant vice president, African American Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. www.thepositivecommunity.com

Summer 2011 The Positive Community



STEVIE WONDER INDUCTED Monday, June 13, 2011 Photo: Risasi Dias


You have a friend in the community. Meet Charlotte Kinsey, Faith Based Community Representative for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan.


or many people, the health care system can seem very big and impersonal. But, when you meet Charlotte Kinsey, you get a different impression. As UnitedHealthcare’s community outreach person in New Jersey, Charlotte’s warm personality and her genuine desire to help people instantly becomes clear. “My passion is helping children and families. Knowing I’m making a real difference in people’s lives— that’s what drives me,” she says. And Charlotte definitely does make a difference. Because she helps people find out about valuable health care services they might not know about. “There are a lot of assistance programs available—through the state, through UnitedHealthcare, and through our community partners,” says Charlotte. “But not everyone knows about them. My job is to tell people about everything that’s out there. So they can get the help they need.”

“These are very tough times. More people are struggling. People you wouldn’t expect.” Charlotte knows that many people find it confusing, or even a little scary, to navigate through the system. That’s why they truly appreciate having someone they can trust to help them figure it all out. “I call it

connecting the dots. I help people see if they qualify, and I help them apply. That makes things a lot easier.” Charlotte’s work takes her all over the state. She talks with children at summer camps and after-school programs. She meets with church groups and community organizations. And she’s willing to go almost anywhere to help. “These are very tough times. More people are struggling. People you wouldn’t expect. I talk to people in all walks of life, and in all cultures,” says Charlotte. “Helping people who have nowhere else to go or no one else to turn to. That truly is the most rewarding part of my job.” But it’s her unique personal background that makes Charlotte so well suited for this job. First, she has a master’s degree in divinity. After college, she did clinical training at a children’s hospital where she specialized as a health care chaplain. Then she spent the next 15 years working in hospice care. “I have a lot of experience helping people during the most difficult times in their lives,” Charlotte says. “This job combines everything I’ve learned so far. For me, it truly is the best of all worlds.” Charlotte also has a strong belief that everyone should have access to quality health care. She sees it as the fundamental building block from which everything else follows. “Making people healthier builds stronger, healthier communities,” she says. “And taking care of your own health with good habits and good preventive care is where it starts. Without good health, you can’t have a good quality of life.”

NJ11-MC011 Positive Community Advertorial.indd 1


The Positive Community Summer 2011

7/21/11 10:47 AM

he Apollo Theater, one of the nation’s greatest cultural treasures, has inducted Stevie Wonder into its Apollo Legends Hall of Fame at its annual Spring Gala on Monday, June 13, 2011. The Gala Benefit Concert and Awards Ceremony brought together the best and brightest in business and entertainment. Upon his induction into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame, the incomparable Stevie Wonder joined legendary musicians, artists, and entertainers including Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Patti Labelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald. All of these Apollo Legends, who in the infancy of their careers graced the world famous stage, went on to attain world wide acclaim. Each Apollo Legends Hall of Fame inductee is honored with a plaque installed in the Apollo Walk of Fame, under the Theater’s iconic marquee. Celebrated American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist Stevie Wonder has had a long association with the Apollo Theater, appearing for the first time in 1962 when he was 12 years old. At that time, he was called “Little Stevie Wonder,” and was already touring as a professional act (the only “child act”) as part of Berry Gordy’s “Motown Revue,” a road show featuring top acts from the Motown Label. Stevie played a major role in the show since he could sing, play harmonica, organ, congas and drums, which led to him being called a “wonder child.” Other notable Apollo appearances include the “Save the Apollo Concert” in the 1980s and sold out solo concerts in 2005. Apollo Theater president and CEO Jonelle Procope said,” Stevie Wonder is a true Apollo Legend and an American classic. Stevie is irrefutable proof of the Apollo’s continuing power as a transformative cultural force in America and around the world.” Funds from the gala support the non-profit theater’s remarkable legacy and its current initiatives for emerging artists and community and educational programs in New York City and beyond. For more photos visit www.thepositivecommunity.com www.thepositivecommunity.com

Now THAT’s New Jersey! By Grace Hanlon


ny discussion of “What’s Great About the Garden State” must acknowledge that New Jersey is nationally ranked in the top 10 states with a $35.5 billion annual tourism industry. In addition to being strong magnets for tourists, New Jersey’s diverse destinations and attractions are proven catalysts for urban renewal, community renaissance and a superior quality of life. These culturally vibrant communities also make New Jersey very attractive to businesses by offering the kinds of enticements needed to recruit top notch employees. Many of the state’s cultural centers have become thriving business districts and New Jersey is home to 18 of the world’s FORTUNE 500® companies. Art lovers can indulge their passions at fine museums and galleries in towns such as Morristown, Englewood, New Brunswick, Red Bank, Cape May and Millville, while historic theaters and world class performing arts centers are also abundant. History buffs can retrace America’s Revolutionary War victory and relive the innovations of Thomas Edison in the state that has the most historic venues per square mile and is known as the Crossroads of the American Revolution. The Jersey Shore, 130 miles of beaches and boardwalks from Sandy Hook to Cape May, was recently named a national Top 10 Beach Destination by Tripadvisor, placing New Jersey in a class with Hawaii, Miami and Myrtle Beach. Outdoor and sports enthusiasts can enjoy surfing, boating, fresh and salt water fishing, golf, eco-tourism, outstanding vineyards, bustling winter ski resorts and world-class amusement and water parks. As quaint as it is quiet, Ocean Grove is a tree-lined beach town in Monmouth County, known for its unhurried atmosphere and gracious living. Ocean Grove features some of the finest examples of Victorian architecture north of Cape May, while its stunning beach is a tranquil and peaceful resort. Travel a few miles south and find yourself in Spring Lake. For more than 100 years, Spring Lake has been known as a tranquil and peaceful resort along the Jersey Shore. Named for the numerous fountains of crystal clear water fed from underground springs, Spring Lake has the longest non-


The Positive Community Summer 2011

commercial boardwalk in New Jersey. With two miles of beautiful beaches, this unhurried atmosphere and gracious living makes Spring Lake ideal for a relaxing family vacation or romantic getaway. Whether you have a sense of adventure or simply want to commune with nature, travel off the beaten path and discover New Jersey’s hidden ecological wonders. New Jersey has a diverse landscape that offers an ecosystem of breathtaking beauty. Explore over 42 miles of the renowned Appalachian Trail, ideal for easy hikes and outings with postcard views of the countryside. Travel around the New Jersey Pinelands, our country’s first National Reserve, with scenic hikes, camping and canoeing on meandering streams. Enjoy the Wild Safari at Six Flags, the largest drive-thru safari outside of Africa. This 350-acre wildlife preserve is home to more than 1,200 exotic animals, including several endangered species, and the 4.5-mile auto trail lets the animals walk right up to your car for an up-close encounter you'll never forget. Whether you are seeking a romantic weekend getaway or a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle, New Jersey’s beautiful bed and breakfast inns provide the quaint and cozy atmosphere you desire. The award- winning “Akwaaba by the Sea” and “Akwaaba at Buttonwood Manor” are two African-American owned B&Bs in Cape May offering elegant accommodations, delectable cuisine and old-world charm. The very name of the bed and breakfast graciously invites you to stay; Akwaaba means "welcome" in a language spoken in Ghana, West Africa. Each guest room is named after a prominent African-American from Cape May and furnished with Victorian antiques blended with a fine collection of African artifacts. With a wide variety of getaway packages, these inns are the ideal destination for family reunions, church and social outings, a rejuvenating road trip or a romantic weekend. No matter your interest, come discover the REAL New Jersey and see why great vacations are made in the Garden State. For more information on these destinations and assistance when planning a New Jersey vacation – including travel deals, itinerary ideas, finding accommodations and ordering brochures – go to visitnj.org. www.thepositivecommunity.com












TICKETS www.thepositivecommunity.com

Bring this coupon to the Box Office at The Shubert Theatre or visit BroadwayOffers.com or call 212-947-8844 and use code MEFL725

*Subject to availability and not valid on prior sales.

Summer 2011 The Positive Community MEM031 PosCommnty 3.4x9.5.indd



Health P reven t i on , Trea t men t & C u re

NBA Legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier Helps Raise Money to Prevent Cancer in Harlem

Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Josh Elliott, the MC for the evening & ABC-TV news anchor; Dr. Harold Freeman and Dr. Brian Harper Photo: Richard Dewitt


he Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention (RLC) hosted a book party featuring Walt Frazier and Ira Berkow, who generoously donated proceeds from the sales that night of their book Rockin’ Steady to the center. Attendees enjoyed hearing about Frazier’s NBA experiences as well as stories about the book and what brought Frazier and Berkow together to write the book. “It is our hope that the appearance and book signing by the legendary Walt Frazier will attract more African American men to take advantage of the state of the art cancer screening services at the center. Black males have the highest cancer death rate compared to any other sex/race group. Many lives can be saved if they will


The Positive Community Summer 2011

come in for testing,” commented Dr. Harold Freeman. For millions of basketball fans in the 1970’s, Walt “Clyde” Frazier defined the word cool. One of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Clyde guided the New York Knicks to their only two championships with style and flair wholly his own. In 1974, Clyde and New York Times sportswriter Ira Berkow collaborated on Rockin’ Steady. Nearly four decades later, Rockin’ Steady is back with an all-new introduction, afterword and everything that made it one of the most unconventional sports books of all time. To purchase ROCKIN’ STEADY to benefit the RLC or get more information about RLC, please call 866-778-6827. — JNW www.thepositivecommunity.com

Good Health is Focus of Renaissance Auxiliary’s Annual Public Meeting By Gideon Manasseh


t the recent Renaissance Auxiliary Annual Public Meeting (APM) at the Harlem State Office Building, keynote speaker, Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, spoke on the Renaissance Auxiliary’s topic, “Healthiness is Happiness.” Ms. Dukes, President of the NAACP N.Y.S. Conference, highlighted Michelle Obama’s efforts to improve the health of America’s children saying, “Childhood obesity rates in the United States have tripled over the past three decades to the point where nearly one in three children in America is overweight or obese… Obesity has been identified as a principle contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and asthma. So our children are in dire need of more exercise as well as better nutrition.” “Health and Happiness are very closely related,” added Dr. John M. Palmer, former executive director of Harlem Hospital and the Renaissance Health Care Network. “When we are healthy it makes it easier to be happy. And when one is happy, we are more likely to be

L–R: Dr. John M. Palmer, former executive director Harlem Hospital; Sarah W. Caliman, APM chair; Joan Reid, RHCN Auxiliary Treasurer; Dr. Hazel N. Dukes; Gideon Manasseh, RHCN-Auxiliary president.

healthy. The difficult part is figuring out what specific strategies we need to be both healthy and happy.” The Renaissance Auxiliary presented awards to Joseph Brice, who has served 40 years on the Renaissance staff, and also to Olive Rogers, Auxiliary member who has spent her retirement years giving back to the community in which she lives. The Renaissance Auxiliary, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501-C-3 organization, dedicated to the expansion and improvement of patient care services within the Renaissance Health Care Network. Based at the Sydenham Health Center located at 215 West 125th Street, the Auxiliary serves as the fundraising arm of this remarkable health facility of the Northern Manhattan Network.

It’s Our Mission. Quality Health Coverage Medicaid Managed Care with Fidelis Care • Health insurance coverage for children and adults in New York State who qualify • Checkups with your own doctor • X-rays and lab tests • Hospital and emergency care • Dental and vision care • Speech and hearing services • Behavioral health services • More than 43,000 quality providers

Medicaid Managed Care is a New York State-sponsored health insurance program offered by Fidelis Care.

Proof of age, income, and address necessary to enroll. To find out if you are eligible for one of our government-sponsored health insurance programs, contact Fidelis Care at:

1-888-FIDELIS (1-888-343-3547) (TTY: 1-800-421-1220) www.thepositivecommunity.com



Summer 2011 The Positive Community


A v











mount sinai in the Community Mount Sinai’s connection to community health goes to the heart of how the medical center sees itself — as a major medical institution and also as a resource for change, solutions, and hope in the lives of its neighbors. Mount Sinai works closely with community organization to identify needs and institute programs to benefit residents of Central and East Harlem. the visitinG doCtors proGram Since 1995, the Mount Sinai Visiting Doctors Program has been delivering comprehensive primary care to an underserved segment of the population—homebound adults, consisting of geriatric patients, as well as those with psychiatric, neurological, complex, and terminal illnesses. The program’s team also reaches out to families and caregivers to offer emotional support and counseling. This award-winning program—inspired by three Mount Sinai residents who recognized this need— serves as both a health care service and a teaching platform, and stands as a flagship clinical initiative—the largest academic home-visit program in the nation, with its clinicians making more than 5,000 home visits annually to more than 1,000 patients. please call 212-241-4141 for more information.

Community partnerships

the east harlem health outreaCh partnership This program ranks as one of the most successful of its kind in the country. Together with supervising faculty, social workers, and community leaders, shifts of students from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine provide primary and nonthreatening urgent care, along with health screenings, and laboratory testing to underserved residents of the community at no cost. Located on the seventh floor of Mount Sinai’s Center for Advanced Medicine, at 17 East 102nd Street, the clinic receives patients by appointment on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Call 646-942-6519 for more information.

To continue identifying needs and delivering essential services to the community, Mount Sinai maintains a network of affiliations, alliances, and partnerships with governing bodies, schools, religious institutions, social agencies, Chambers of Commerce, and, of course, its neighbors themselves because all have a common mission—increasing access to high quality care. If you have ideas about how to improve health in your community or would like to learn more about research that can benefit you, your neighbors and your family, Mount Sinai’s Center for Community-Academic Research Partnership can help you! For more information, please call Crispin Goytia at 212-824-7373.

the Greenmarket In an effort to bring healthier eating to the community, Mount Sinai is collaborating with GrowNYC to host its annual Greenmarket, which is located on 99th Street between Madison and Park Avenues and operates every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through November.

market offers cooking demonstrations, free samples, educational materials on healthy living, and special events.

The market accepts EBT, Senior Vouchers, New York City Health Bucks, Mount Sinai coupons, and debit/credit cards. For every $5.00 spent in food stamps, Greenmarket shoppers will receive $2.00 in Health Bucks. In addition to fresh food items, the

For additional information visit www. mssm.edu/greenmarket, or contact Zoraya nazario at 212-659-9094, or zoraya. nazario@mssm.edu.

to receive weekly e-mail updates, join the Greenmarket e-mail list at greenmarket@ mssm.edu.


Greenmarket 99th and





8am - 5pm


June throuGh november


The market accepts ebt, senior vouchers, healthbucks, and debit/credit cards. Receive $2 in healthbucks for every $5 spent in food stamps. | El mercado acepta tarjetas ebt, cupones para personas de edad avanzada, healthbucks, y tarjetas de crédito/débito. Por cada $5 que use en cupones de alimentos, recibirá $2 en vales healthbucks. www.thepositivecommunity.com

Summer 2011 The Positive Community


Englewood Hospital Hosts Women’s Health Celebration Photos: Darryl Hall


rea women were given the opportunity to speak candidly with Englewood Hospital physicians and health professionals including specialists in heart, bone, breast and vein as well as gynecology, robotic surgery, holistic medicine and nutrition at the Women’s Health Celebration hosted recently by Englewood Hospital. The annual event is designed to create a warm and friendly atmosphere where women can discuss the importance of preventative medicine and also showcase how they can take a proactive approach to health. Because of the success of the event, which has grown in popularity, this year’s celebration was held at Englewood’s McKay Park where the women enjoyed samplings of healthy foods and wine, met and talked with health providers. The event is part of an ongoing roster of community wellness events offered by Englewood Hospital and coordinated by Phyllis Browne.

Phyllis Browne, coordinator of community events

ABOVE: Hetal Gor, MD, FACOG TOP RIGHT: Maria Margiotta, Director of Marketing and Communications at Englewood Hospital McKay Park in Englewood RIGHT: Steve Elias, MD, FACS, FACPh, Director of The Center for Vein Disease at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center

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The Positive Community Summer 2011


Home is where your heart is. We can help keep you there and help get you the care you need! If you need help with day-to-day living and do not want to leave the comfort of your home, we can help. We offer Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) coverage under the New York State-sponsored health insurance programs.

Our MLTC program offers you:

• Home health care • Physical therapy • Transportation • Private duty nursing • Care management • Social day care • Adult day health care

LIVE WELL • VIVA BIEN Amerigroup is a culturally diverse company. We welcome all eligible individuals into our health care programs, regardless of health status. If you have questions or concerns, please call 1-800-600-4441 (TTY: 1-800-855-2880) and ask for extension 34925. Or visit www.myamerigroup.com.

To find out if you or someone you know qualifies and to find out about additional covered services, full eligibility requirements and details about the program, call 1-800-950-7679 (TTY: 1-800-855-2880). Or visit www.myamerigroup.com for more information.












You have a friend in the community. Meet Charlotte Kinsey, Faith Based Community Representative for UnitedHealthcare Community Plan.


or many people, the health care system can seem very big and impersonal. But, when you meet Charlotte Kinsey, you get a different impression. As UnitedHealthcare’s community outreach person in New Jersey, Charlotte’s warm personality and her genuine desire to help people instantly becomes clear. “My passion is helping children and families. Knowing I’m making a real difference in people’s lives— that’s what drives me,” she says. And Charlotte definitely does make a difference. Because she helps people find out about valuable health care services they might not know about. “There are a lot of assistance programs available—through the state, through UnitedHealthcare, and through our community partners,” says Charlotte. “But not everyone knows about them. My job is to tell people about everything that’s out there. So they can get the help they need.”

“These are very tough times. More people are struggling. People you wouldn’t expect.” Charlotte knows that many people find it confusing, or even a little scary, to navigate through the system. That’s why they truly appreciate having someone they can trust to help them figure it all out. “I call it

NJ11-MC011 Positive Community Advertorial.indd 1

connecting the dots. I help people see if they qualify, and I help them apply. That makes things a lot easier.” Charlotte’s work takes her all over the state. She talks with children at summer camps and after-school programs. She meets with church groups and community organizations. And she’s willing to go almost anywhere to help. “These are very tough times. More people are struggling. People you wouldn’t expect. I talk to people in all walks of life, and in all cultures,” says Charlotte. “Helping people who have nowhere else to go or no one else to turn to. That truly is the most rewarding part of my job.” But it’s her unique personal background that makes Charlotte so well suited for this job. First, she has a master’s degree in divinity. After college, she did clinical training at a children’s hospital where she specialized as a health care chaplain. Then she spent the next 15 years working in hospice care. “I have a lot of experience helping people during the most difficult times in their lives,” Charlotte says. “This job combines everything I’ve learned so far. For me, it truly is the best of all worlds.” Charlotte also has a strong belief that everyone should have access to quality health care. She sees it as the fundamental building block from which everything else follows. “Making people healthier builds stronger, healthier communities,” she says. “And taking care of your own health with good habits and good preventive care is where it starts. Without good health, you can’t have a good quality of life.”

7/21/11 10:47 AM



to receive

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“From Every Nation, Tribe, People and Language…” …‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel. −Exodus 19:5-6 (New American Standard Bible) And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. −Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. −1 Peter 2:9-10 (NASB) After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. −Revelation 7:9-10(New International Version)

he preceding series of scriptures trace the changing composition of God’s chosen people through time. Speaking to Moses at Sinai around 1446 B.C., God identified the ancient Israelites as his special possession. Around 30 A.D., the resurrected Jesus Christ instructed his followers, most of whom were Jews, to spread the Gospel beyond the Jewish nation. Perhaps around 60 A.D., the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians, who by that time included non-Jews in Europe, Africa, and Asia, echoing God’s Sinai wording to identify the Body of Christ as the new “royal priesthood” and “holy nation.” Finally, in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John prophesied seeing Christians from all nations worshiping



The Positive Community Summer 2011

God together. In 2011 A.D., Christians from several nations of Africa, Asia, and the Americas worship God collectively in at least two congregations in Dallas, TX. The Episcopal Church of the Ascension (ECA) includes worship services and ministries for African refugees and immigrants from Sudan and Nigeria. Nearby Gaston Oaks Baptist Church (GOBC) consists of cooperating American, Asian, African, and Hispanic congregations. ECA describes its congregation as “multicultural.” Members reportedly speak at least 12 different native languages. Africans from Ghana and Southern Sudan comprise the largest immigrant groups. Besides Sunday morning worship services in English, ECA has services in Dinka and Igbo. The Dinka tribe originates in Southern Sudan and the Igbo tribe is based in southeastern Nigeria. ECA also hosts an Igbo Bible study class and a literacy program for Dinka women. One Summer Sunday per year, ECA has African Night, a worship service in various African languages. This past May, ECA hosted a 10th-year anniversary program for the Lost Boys of the Sudan in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. The “Lost Boys” refers to male youths who fled Sudan’s wars in the 1990’s and escaped to Ethiopia and other countries. Many ended up and remain in the United States as grown men. Gaston Oaks Baptist Church operates its multinational ministry differently. Each congregation worships weekly in its own language under its own name and pastor, at different times and spaces within the same building. The Afrika Community Fellowship worships in Swahili and consists of Christians from several East African countries. The Karen Baptist Fellowship consists mostly of refugees belonging to the Karen ethnic group from Burma. La Promesa is the Hispanic congregation. The original GOBC congregation, mostly white, now comprises the English-speaking congregation. Periodically the four congregations worship jointly, including purposely singing the same worship song simultaneously in four different languages. When I arrived at GOBC’s English language worship service, a white brother who could easily have been a “good ole’ boy” asked me, “Are you here for the black continued on next page www.thepositivecommunity.com

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111 Northfield Ave, Suite 205, West Orange, NJ 07052 Tel: 973.736.1090 • Fax: 973.736.1092 service?” I responded, “You mean the Africanwww.ateamphysicaltherapynj.com service? Yeah, I would like to get as much information on it as I can, but right now, I want to worship God here, in this service.” We talked briefly, establishing an informative, respectful rapport in Christ. On a later Sunday I attended the African service. My college Swahili was too stale to provide complete understanding, but I immediately picked up words like Mungu (God), Bwana (Lord, in Christian worship application), Baba (Father), and Yahweh (Lord or Yhwh, as in English), and jotted down other words to look up. I prayed in English, and when I recognized a worship Christian Atexide, PT, tune, I sang it in English. When I first worshiped at Ascension, I wore African garb. After service, an African couple wearing western Member of clothing told me they thought I was from their home country. We established rapport. They introduced me to the rector. ECA and GOBC reflect the changing population of Dallas, where all African, Asian,Medicare, and Latin-American immi-United HC, Cigna, Americhoice, Motor vehicle, Worker’s Comp We accept Insurance: Horizon BC/BS, Oxford, grants are joining U.S.-born whites, blacks, and Hispanics. The diversity of Dallas/Fort Worth is becoming similar to the New York metropolitan area. As African-American Christian congregations worship, fellowship, and organize with other congregations, I hope we too increasingly include Christians born in Africa and elsewhere in the mix. continued from previous page

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Summer 2011 The Positive Community



www.thepositivecommunity.com Summer 2011

Vol. 11, No. 7

Publisher Adrian A. Council, Sr. Editor-in-Chief Jean Nash Wells Associate Editor R. L. Witter Sales Angela Ridenour Adrian Council, Jr. NGS Communications, Inc. Satori MPR Church/Community Affairs Coordinator Faith Jackson Contributing Writers Sonja Gracy Dr. Phillip Bonaparte Linda Armstrong Mwandikaji K. Mwanafunzi g.r. mattox Rosemary Sinclair Patricia Baldwin Rev. Theresa Nance Rev. Reginald T. Jackson Herb Boyd Glenda Cadogan Toni Parker Helene Fox Rev. Dr. Joanne Noel Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood William Parrish Jeanne Parnell Photographers Bob Gore Wali A. Muhammad Seitu Oronde Rev. Dr. William L. Watkins, Jr. Darryl Hall Vincent Bryant Donovan Gopie Linda Pace Hubert Williams Art Direction & Layout Penguin Design Group Martin Maishman The Positive Community Corp. 133 Glenridge Avenue Montclair, NJ 07042 973-233-9200 Fax: 973-233-9201 Email: positive.corp@verizon.net Website: thepositivecommunity.com All contents © 2010 The Positve Community Corporation. All Rights Reserved. This publication, in whole or in part, may not be reproduced, stored in a computerized or other retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means whatsoever without the prior written permission of The Positive Community Corporation. Any opinions expressed herein are solely the opinions of the writer(s) and not necessarily those of The Positive CommunityTM, its management or staff. The Positive CommunityTM reserves the right to retain all materials and does not assume reponsibility for unsolicited materials.


The Positive Community Summer 2011

The Last Word BY R.L. WITTER SUMMER IN THE CITY VILLAGE s the mercury continues to rise and the heat is visible on the streets, there is no question that summer is in full swing. We’ve had record-breaking heat and happily, area colleges and universities have had record-setting numbers of graduates! For the first time in ten years, The Positive Community has lauded graduates in two consecutive issues in an attempt to congratulate the hardworking and determined brothers and sisters donning robes and mortarboards this year in recognition of their academic achievements. As I peruse the pages of recent graduates, I feel pride and hope. I’m proud of the dedication and tenacity of this group and hopeful that they will find employment and fulfillment in the next phase of their lives. I think fondly of the contributions they’ll make to our community and the adventures in store for those brave enough to seize opportunities and forge ahead. The graduates got me thinking about a young adventurer in my life. My 12-yearold niece, Autumn traveled to England and France this summer with a group of students selected from around the United States. Autumn—a straight-A student since first grade who is a cheerleader, plays violin and sings like an angel—visited all of the postcard perfect places and even had the privilege of participating in a wreathlaying ceremony honoring American soldiers killed during World War II in Normandy. In the current economy, most of us couldn’t afford to even think about a European vacation this summer; many of us had no vacation at all. This trip was a huge financial undertaking and frankly, money could have been an insurmountable obstacle to making this dream trip a reality for a deserving young student. When the opportunity presented itself, there was no question that her parents wanted Autumn to go; the question was how to make it happen for her in such tight and uncertain times. To find an answer, her parents turned to the village that is our family. Our family has always embraced the message of the African proverb that says “It takes a village to raise a child.” I, my siblings and my cousins can recall being both praised and


Autumn in Versailles, France

punished regularly by grandparents, aunts, uncles, older cousins and close friends of the family throughout our childhood. If the ice cream truck arrived when my parents were out of sight, Uncle Bobby would jingle his pockets and produce quarters that were traded for bombpops and dixie cups. And rightly so, when I temporarily lost my mind and acted out of sorts, Aunt Josie had a look that would stop me in my tracks and make me think long and hard about the spanking that was undoubtedly coming. I vividly recall our family pooling resources to buy a new dining room set when my cousins Cheryll and Dwayne first purchased and moved into their home, and how care packages, phone cards and “mad money” were sent to all of us while away at college to ease the homesickness and reliance upon ramen noodles. There was even a family fund that helped some of us attend a family reunion a few years back. Some of us gave $20 to help fund Autumn’s trip, others gave $500; no amount was too small and every penny was appreciated. The village banded together and did what no one or two us could do separately to accomplish a shared goal. It reminded me of another village, the Village of Harlem, New York. Every summer, the Village joins together to send all who would like to attend on an adventure in culture—with music, food, art and inspiration. The annual HARLEM WEEK celebration brings people from around the world to sit at the family table and partake of the joy, spirit and wonder that is African American culture and that table sits squarely in the center of the African American universe. While I might not make it to Europe this summer, I know I’ll enjoy the sights and sounds of HARLEM WEEK with my extended family. www.thepositivecommunity.com

The Positive Community’s



n less than two years, America will observe the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation—the sesquicentennial commemoration. From the date of January 1, 1863 through January 1, 2013 we, as a group are blessed with an enormous opportunity to measure, assess and define our American journey, our claim on the American Dream.

Below is a cultural narrative—our story—an oral history, a brief presentation of our deep collective experience that dates back to before

this nation’s founding: African Americans are a unique people with a peculiar history in this land. Brought to these shores in chains from Africa as slaves in the early 1600s, our people toiled and suffered as captives in brutal bondage for a quarter of a millennium (250 years). On January 1st 1863, two years into the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, became law, signaling an end to slavery. On that day, the African American community of the United States of America was born. One hundred years later, in August, 1963, at the height of the civil rights movement, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial as he led hundreds of thousands to a “March on Washington” seeking an end to discrimination and Jim Crow segregation in the South. It was a demand for full citizenship rights for the people in what has been called “The Second Emancipation.” Forty years after Martin Luther King’s tragic assassination in 1968, America elected its first black president, Barack Obama (2008). In one hundred years between the first and “second emancipation,” in the midst of bitter persecution, humiliation, lynching and the denial of basic human rights, the resiliency of the African American spirit continued to shine brightly in religion, invention, sports and in the creative arts—music, fashion, dance, language, literature and theater. Indeed, original American art forms and a popular culture which has become the envy of the world were founded upon the souls of a forlorn people! And that is our story-the Truth, Beauty and Goodness of a loving and gifted race revealed! An Extraordinary History Ours is an extraordinary history of trial, tribulation and triumph that we must never forget! This is the story that we must tell our children and be ever remembered by the young and the old. We the people, descendants of the Emancipation Proclamation, must tell our story to each other reminding ourselves, over and over again of the great, noble struggle and scarifies of those who came before us. This is our story, our cultural narrative, our Grand Jubilee and springboard into a great and prosperous future—a vision of hope and progress; health and wholeness; peace and goodwill!! Stay tuned to The Positive Community magazine and online www.thepositivecommunity.com for features and updates on news, church events, concerts, and other activities leading up to January 1, 2013—the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation—our Great Countdown to Freedom: The Grand Jubilee!! To become a Community Partner or Sponsor: Call Today 973-233-9200.

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