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™ Winter 2017


Barack Obama A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017


Black History Month Mass

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ALL ARE WELCOME! Also Acknowledging & Celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of Catholic Charities of NY For more information contact The Office of Black Ministry at 646-794-2681;

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Winter 2017


SECTIONS MONEY ...................................14 HEALTH............................28 EDUCATION.............................38 CULTURE .................................54


67 Cover Photo: Margot Jordan

Barack Obama


Local Entrepreneur Takes on Global Market....14 Mobilizing Preachers and Communities...........20 Gubernatorial Candidate Murphy in Newark...22 Assemblyman Mosley Honored............................24 Mother & Daughter Celebrate in Brooklyn.......25 The Healing Revolution...................................28 Investing in Newark’s Future...........................30 Ben Vereen Talks about Diabetes....................34 Transforming a Vision to a Village...................38 NYTS Day at Baptist Ministers Conference......48 United Missionary Baptist Installation.............54 Night of Inspiration at Carnegie Hall...............54 GBC Celebrates Sacred Service of Installation....55 Gala of God’s Mailman....................................56

President Journey | 2009–2017 A Presidential Special Section: Tribute to Barack Obama President and Mrs. Barack Obama


also inside

Publisher’s Desk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 0 My View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Fitness Doctor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Gospel Train . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 The Way Ahead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 The Last Word . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122 4

The Positive Community

Winter 2017

Obama’s Alma Mater Expands in Harlem.........69 How MLK and Obama Intersect.......................74 Lineage of Love: President Obama’s Grandmother....80 The Privilege of a Lifetime.................................82 Reflections on My Conversations with President Obama..90 FLOTUS: She’ll Continue to Walk in Beauty.......92 Top Obama Basketball Moments.....................98 Cloud 9: On Air Force One with President Obama..104 Children’s Letters to the President.................108 Young Filmmakers Win at White House.........113 Congressmen Payne and Rangel Salute the President.115


The Thetime timebetween betweenwhen whenpeople peopleshould shouldstart startsaving savingfor forretirement retirementand andwhen whenthey theyactually actually do is known as the “Action Gap. ” And it has a bigger effect than you might think. do is known as the “Action Gap.” And it has a bigger effect than you might think. ToTobetter betterunderstand understandthe theimpact, impact,we weperformed performedaasimple simpleexperiment. experiment.We Weasked askedaagroup group ofofyoung people to use paint rollers to show us what age they think they should start young people to use paint rollers to show us what age they think they should start saving. saving.Then Thenwe weasked askedaagroup groupofofolder olderpeople peopletotoindicate indicatewhat whatage agethey theyactually actuallydid did start. What we found was that there was often a years-long Action Gap between start. What we found was that there was often a years-long Action Gap betweenthe the two. two.But Butclosing closingititup upbybyeven evenjust justaafew fewyears yearsmakes makesaahuge hugedifference differenceininhow howmuch much people can save over the long run. Which makes right now the perfect time to get people can save over the long run. Which makes right now the perfect time to getbetter better prepared preparedfor foryour yourretirement. retirement.





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he clergy organizations, churches, community businesses and institutions listed below have committed to the purchase of at least 50 magazines per month at $1.00 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 Convent Avenue Baptist Church, New York, NY Rev. Dr. Jesse T. Willams, Pastor

Mount Calvary United Methodist Church, New York, NY Rev. Francis Kairson, Pastor

Emmanuel Baptist Church, Brooklyn NY Rev. Anthony Trufant, Pastor

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

Empire Missionary B.C., Convention NY Rev. Dr. Ronald Grant, President

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

Aenon Baptist Church, Vauxhall NJ Rev Alphonso Williams, Sr Pastor

Fellowship Missionary B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. Elton T. Byrd Pastor/Founder

Agape Christian Ministries Worship Ctr. Rev. Craig R. Jackson. Pastor

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

Mount Olive Baptist Church, Hackensack, NJ Rev. Gregory J. Jackson, Pastor

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

First Baptist Church, East Elmhurst, NY Rev Patrick Henry Young, Pastor

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

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

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

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

Bethany B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Adolphus C. Lacey, Sr. Pastor

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

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

Friendship Baptist Church, Rahway, NJ Rev. Allen Thompson, Jr., Pastor

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

General Baptist Convention, NJ Rev. Dr. Guy Campbell, Jr., Presiden

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

Good Neighbor Baptist Church Rev. Dr. George A. Blackwell, III, Pastor

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

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

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

Greater Abyssinian BC, Newark, NJ Rev. Allen Potts, Senior Pastor

Abyssinian B.C., Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, Pastor Abyssinian B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. Perry Simmons, Pastor Abundant Life Fellowship COGIC, Newark, NJ Supt. Edward Bohannon, Jr, Pastor

Mount Zion Baptist Church, Westwood, NJ Rev. Barry R. Miller, Pastor Mt. Olivet B.C, Newark, NJ Rev. André W. Milteer, Pastor Mt. Zion AME Church, Trenton, NJ Rev. J. Stanley Justice, Pastor New Hope Baptist Church, Metuchen, NJ Rev. Dr. Ronald L. Owens, Pastor New Hope Baptist Church of Hackensack, Hackensack, NJ Rev. Dr. Frances Mannin-Fontaine, Pastor New Jerusalem Worship Center, Jamaica, NY Rev. Dr. Calvin Rice, Senior 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

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

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

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

Park Ave Christian Disciples of Christ, East Orange, NJ Rev. Harriet Wallace, Pastor

Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI) Malcolm A. Punter, President & CEO

Pilgrim B. C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. Glenn Wilson, Pastor

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

Imani Baptist Church, East Orange, NJ Rev.Chuch Chamberlayne, Pastor

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

It Is Well Living Ministries, Clark, NJ Rev. Kahlil Carmichael, Pastor

Christian Love B.C., Irvington, NJ Rev. Dr. Ronald Christian, Pastor

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

Shiloh B.C., Plainfield, NJ Rev. Sheila Thorpe, Pastor

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

Shiloh B.C., Trenton, NJ Rev. Darell Armstrong, Pastor

Messiah Baptist Church, Bridgeport, CT Rev. James Logan, Pastor

St. Albans, NY COGIC Rev. Dr. Ben Monroe, Pastor

Clear View Baptist Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Eric M. Beckham, M.Div., MFT 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

Messiah Baptist Church, East Orange, NJ Rev. Dana Owens, Pastor Metropolitan B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. David Jefferson, Pastor

Ruth Fellowship Ministries, Plainfield, NJ Rev. Tracey Brown, Pastor Shiloh AME Zion Church, Englewood, NJ Rev. John D. Givens, Pastor

St. Anthony Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY Rev. Dr. Duane E. Cooper, Pastor St. John Baptist Church, Camden, NJ Rev. Dr. Silas M. Townsend, Pastor

St. Luke Baptist Church of Harlem, NY Rev. Dr. Johnnie McCann, Pastor St Luke B.C., Paterson, NJ Rev. Kenneth D.R. Clayton, Pastor St. James AME Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter, Pastor St. Paul Baptist, Red Bank, NJ Rev. Alexander Brown, Pastor St. Mark Missionary B.C., Jamaica, NY Rev. Owen E. Williams, Pastor St. Matthew AME Church, Orange, NJ Rev. Dr. Lanel D. Guyton, Pastor St. Paul's B.C., Montclair, NJ Rev. Dr. Bernadette Glover, Pastor St. Paul Community B.C., Brooklyn, NY Rev. David K. Brawley, Pastor The New Hope B.C., Newark, NJ Rev. Joe Carter, Senior Pastor Union Baptist Temple,, Bridgeton, NJ Rev. Albert L. Morgan, Pastor Walker Memorial B.C. Bronx, NY Rev. Dr. J. Albert Bush Sr., Pastor Welcome Baptist Church, Newark, NJ Rev. Dr. Elijah C.Williams, Pastor World Gospel Music Assoc., Newark, NJ Dr. Albert Lewis, Founder

Businesses & Organizations 125th St. BID City National Bank Essex County College, NJ Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce Marion P. Thomas Charter School Mildred Crump, Newark City Council Muslim American Chamber of Commerce NAACP New Jersey* NAACP, NY State Conference* New Brunswick Theological Seminary New Jersey Performing Arts Center New York Theological Seminary NobleNNJ Nubian Conservatory of Music Razac Products Co., Newark, NJ Schomburg Center for Research The College of New Rochelle United Way of Essex and West Hudson WBGO-88.3FM West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc.

“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






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“As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. Psychological freedom and a strong sense of self-esteem is the most powerful weapon against the long night of slavery” —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Celebration of Achievement, Faith, and the Future

Keep it Positive; Keep it Moving!


appy New Year! Blessings of health, prosperity and happiness to all! The year 2017 brings with it a new reality: Donald J. Trump is President of the United States of America. After 8 years in the nation’s highest office, President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and their children Sasha and Malia take leave of the White House to continue on with their lives as private citizens. Without question, the historic elections of this nation’s first black president are a sterling achievement for American democracy at home and on the world stage. For the African American group personality, the presidency of Mr. Obama is a cultural achievement equaled in significance only to the triumph of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington at the height of the civil rights movement! The Obama family has made us very proud. There’s dignity in their presence. Back in the day, in generations past, members of our community would gleefully refer to them as “a credit to the race!” With great pride we will

Today, TPC is among the very few remaining African American owned media companies in this region. We continue to operate at an extreme disadvantage in a most hostile media environment. 10 The The Positive Positive Community Community Winter Winter2017 2017 40

tell our grandchildren and future generations about President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama as America’s First Family! And now, we turn our focus to the future. To measure potentials and possibilities, analysis begins with an assessment of our collective assets and possessions; talents and gifts: Like Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama is a cultural asset—forever ours; the Black Church as an institution of spiritual leadership, faith, values and tradition is a cultural asset; a well educated man or woman, healthy in mind, body and spirit is a cultural asset; Knowledge of past struggles, sacrifices and triumphs through study of Afro-American history—our American story—is indeed, a cultural asset. The very best of our music, black folk music—the Work Songs, the Negro Spirituals, Blues, Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Soul Music, Hip-Hop and Spoken Word should ideally, be a much valued cultural asset. About the Future At The Positive Community (TPC), we so deeply appreciate the out-pouring of love and support, especially from our faith community, for this annual Martin Luther King special edition, featuring President Barack Obama’s Farewell Tribute. We affirm our reality when we join together in unity to do something positive. And yes, family, community and teamwork are cultural attributes! Today, TPC is among the very few remaining African American owned media companies in this region. We continue to operate at an extreme disadvantage in a most hostile media environment. Look at the popular media images of our people, especially the young people. Well-financed, entrenched corporations—radio and TV stations; record companies, internet and print media companies that claim to “represent” black consumers in the marketplace are earning hundreds of millions of

dollars at the expense of our collective dignity, community pride, self-respect and self-esteem. The future is in peril. A wicked, relentless and unholy war is being waged upon the souls of our children—false liberty disguised as freedom. Enslavement of an entire generation to fashion and debt is the net result of this sad and most unfortunate trend. I believe there is nothing more urgent than a sincere discussion about the future. Let’s bring together intellectuals, artists and laymen to produce a well publicized series of ecumenical, secular and non-secular lectures and roundtable discussions on topics like health, business/finances education, morals, values, ethics, religion, culture, music, the fine arts, theater, spirituality, happiness and the future with all its many subdivisions. We will seek institutional and corporate sponsorship—community partners—to help underwrite costs. A New Song of Freedom We're talking about a much needed conversation about the intangibles, with an understanding that

there is no political solution to a spiritual and cultural crisis. We'll approach all discussions from a glass halffilled perspective. The times demand that the art of living be re-mastered within a single generation. Think about the amount of technical innovation and scientific discovery that's come into our lives in just the past 25 years. Civilization cannot go forward; social progress will grind to a halt without a new language of freedom; a new song of freedom and hope—Positive Music Matters! Yes, there is a practical nuts and bolts business reality that we must contend with if we at TPC are to grow and prosper. But let us not discount the power of the ideal as a sustaining force. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech was just that! The Obama presidency is the Dream manifest. There’s a universal truth; a theme to be applied to Mr. Obama’s personal conduct and approach to many of his challenges as leader of the most powerful nation on earth. The take-away for future generations, the Obama legacy: Keep it Positive; Keep it Moving!

Winter2017 2017 The The Positive Positive Community Community 41 11 Winter


Rev. Nance is pastor of The Church by the Side of the Road in Passaic, NJ. She is also a radio talk show host and documentary filmmaker.

Thank You, Mr. President


t’s not because they were the first African-American family to wear the label “First Family.” It wasn’t because President Barack Obama served elegantly and honorably that I recall his eight-year term as America’s Commander-in-chief. It is because he is the only president I know who’s been vilified for not being the right color. I’m glad he, Michelle, and their beautiful daughters are leaving. No, really. The pain of having to read another despicable article in which some nut has referred to this 21st century brown version of Jack and Jackie Kennedy is too much. By the way, we haven’t seen the last of an African-American president; so, haters don’t pop the cork off the champagne bottle just yet. I know, when they go low, we go high. Michelle told us that should be our mantra. Of course, I ain’t feelin’ it, quite frankly. This intelligent, gifted, suave gentleman (and he was a gentleman at all times), has not yet scratched the surface concerning the contributions he has yet to make to humanity. The same goes for his beautiful wife and adorable children. As quiet as it’s kept, most of us in the black tribe knew we weren’t in a post-racial environment when Obama took the reins of the presidency. In fact, when the Republicans said their primary objective was to make him a one-term president, black folks knew they were in for the time of their lives. A bit slow on the uptake we may be, but crazy we’ve never been. So, we watched as those on Capitol Hill tried to make his life a living hell. But, he never got so-called colored folks crazy. In fact, he was chided for being too laid back. Well, they won’t have to worry about that with the new guy coming to the White House, will they? Yes, there are things that have been left undone. No, I didn’t get my wish to see a “sistah” appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he took care of the people’s business and could have done more if he had received the kind of support due him. Black youngsters should not be given excuses for not doing their best. The president had neither a father nor mother in his life for any length of time, and yet, he was able to rise to the top of the political ladder. And, he did

12 The Positive Community

Winter 2017

so with aplomb, dignity, and discipline that could have only come from above. Despite the obstruction in the House and Congress, and regardless of the Tea Party and myriad others who wished to see President Obama fail and did everything they could to make their wish come true; history, and not those parties, will have the final say in his performance as President of the United States of America. History will decide whether his progressive platform and diplomatic approach are to be lauded or chided. History will decide if President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize —the first ever won by a sitting U.S. President— was an impressive achievement, as well as his saving the American auto industry, stopping the worst recession since the Great Depression, saving millions of American homes from foreclosure, the Affordable Care Act, and the other impressive things he did accomplish during his two terms as Commander-in-Chief. Thankfully, millions of people will remember and relate stories of how they met a caring and gracious man, received a letter in response to their query, or were welcomed into the White House, where POTUS took a moment to play with their baby or let their beautiful, brown son feel his hair to marvel at the fact that it felt just like his did. Millions of black and brown children will mature as the first generation to truly feel it is possible for them to, one day, hold that same office and serve their country with the measure of dignity, honor, and resolve that he did. They’ll never forget that their President was black. I wish them well. We wish them well. And, we should thank the God of heaven who made this impossible dream become a reality for naysayers, doubters, and dreamers alike. Find office space in the most prestigious addresses in Newark


Entrepreneur Maurice Singleton Takes on Global Market

By Jean Nash Wells


consider myself an innovator —a think. outside-the-box entrepreneur, whose talent is putting together the right partnerships, coming up with creative strategies, and pioneering unique concepts for maximum results,” declared Maurice Singleton, III. A seasoned executive with experience in strategic planning and implementation over a 30-year career in media and entertainment, Singleton knows something about trends. So, the trend towards the consumption of so-called energy drinks got his attention a few years ago, but that was as far as it went —hmm… energy drinks? As fate would have it, Singleton happened upon 14

The Positive Community

Winter 2017

the news that the U.S. Senate had held hearings on the hazards of energy drink ingredients. “It was an under-reported story,” he recalled. He learned that thousands of consumers seek emergency medical treatment each year because of chemically-based ingredients in energy drinks. Then, the FDA mandated that product ingredients should be more clearly listed and readily available for consumer review. “I was shocked when no one took any actions or made any changes at that time,” he said. “So, I decided that I was going to create consumer brands that could help build healthier communities. With year-over-year growth in the organic/health focused food and beverage industry, the time is right to use my training and disrupt the natural consumer goods market.” Lessons Learned Products Created The result is Amazing Fruit Shots™ (AFS), a ready-to-drink compact beverage made with 100 percent fruits and vegetables and other natural ingredients. The drinks offer a way to rapidly consume the goodness of fruits and vegetables the body needs each day. The small, three ounce bottle delivers

three full servings of vegetables, two full servings of fruit, and five grams of dietary fiber. In this fast-paced, fast food world, Amazing Fruit Shots™ provides a natural, ready-to-drink choice, not only for stamina but also endurance and for healthy living. Our body’s vitality has been universally supported by nature from the moment we were born; for centuries the body’s well-being has been nurtured by the land. During the last half century, things like french fries, fried burgers, along with caffeine and sugar-laden soda have become the staples of the American meal. Now, with the high rate of diabetes and high blood pressure in our communities, young consumers, who are now caring for their older relatives, are making more conscious consumption choices and Amazing Fruit Shots will give them another choice. Amazing Fruit Shots™ became available for purchase online in the United States in late December, 2016, and will be in stores by late February, 2017. But there’s more to the story. Going Global: Exporting to the People’s Republic Of China In February, 2015, the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, US & Foreign Commercial Service, and Harlem US Export Assistance Center invited American natural and/

or organic food and beverage companies to meet with its joint agreement partner, Global Trade & Technology Company (GTTC). Singleton’s company was one of the companies GTTC invited to meet Chinese state-owned enterprise companies at a gathering in Harlem. “From the outset I was interested,” stated Singleton, CEO of Amazing Fruit Shots and TamTamBora Smoothies, a product already available in the U.S. “I had no knowledge about international selling, so I began learning via hands-on instructions with GTTCs president and chairman, trying to grasp the initiative in what I would describe as a bell curve education. As soon as I slightly understood the matrix, our firm was one of the first minority-owned companies that presented products for export. We sent senior executives to China with GTTC on a trade mission in November 2015. In July 2016, Tamtambora (TTB) successfully completed the necessary clearances to begin doing business in China. The new approval means that TTB now has access to supply 57,000 supermarkets, 30,000 convenience stores (C-Stores), 20,000 stores in the gas stations on the highways and in schools in 26 China provinces. Amazing Fruit Shots is awaiting approval of its clearances and Singleton is ready to proceed on global distribution, beginning with China.

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Winter 2017 The Positive Community


Bishop George C. Searight, founder and senior pastor Abundant Life Family Worship Church

dfree® A Financial Freedom Movement

Rev. Dr. DeForest Soaries

Erica Campbell, gospel singer

Photos: Karen Waters

L–R: Terrell L. Sheppard, author, financial advisor; Dorinda Walker, VP of Consumer Strategy & Key Initiatives Multicultural Marketing at Prudential Financial; and Bible Economist Obie McKensie


ome 2,500 people convened at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in November for an invigorating and informative event about money and how to free oneself from debt. Powerhouse speakers led practical workshops and supplied training and tools that enabled audience members to take control of their finances and begin the journey to a debt-free life, moving to personal financial success through the dfree program developed by Rev. Dr. DeForest Soaries Dr. Soaries, who is pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, believes that “Our entire American culture encourages us to pursue more. This may be fine,” he says, “as long as we first teach ourselves the discipline we need to become financially literate and responsible so we can sustain ourselves, and pass our wealth to future generations.” dfree® was born out of that reality, and Rev. Soaries’ mission is to prepare, inspire, and provide information via workshops and other learning experiences until all those who wish to live life to the fullest can add being debt-free to their successes.

L–R: Tamika Stembridge, Esq.; Theodore Daniels, SFEPD; Rev. Dr. DeForest Soaries

Obie McKensie greets convention goers

Prudential Financial Team


The Positive Community

Winter 2017


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A better community starts with one person making a difference

Great leaders leave a mark on the communities they serve. They are one person that focuses on bringing people together to make positive change. The small difference accomplished today can grow and last for generations. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., thank you for creating a lasting legacy of success. Š 2017 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. (3688601_19737)

Advocates Rally Call on Governor Cuomo to Sign Safety Net Legislation


he Save Our Safety Net Coalition is calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign into law the bill that would provide a more targeted definition of the state’s


The Positive Community

Winter 2017

so desperately need to meet the changing and growing needs of New Yorkers More than 15,000 signatures have been collected from hospital employees, community members, and health advocates in support of the bill. Photos: Bruce Moore

L-R: Barbara Edmonds, DC 37; Rev. Al Taylor; and Jackie Rowe Adams, president Local 299

most vulnerable hospitals— those hospitals that truly treat the largest number of uninsured and Medicaid patients. Enhanced Safety Net Hospital Bill (A.9476A/ S.69486A) has been passed unanimously by both chambers of the New York State Legislature. Elected leaders, community groups, labor representatives, and healthcare workers gathered in front of Harlem Hospital to call for passage of the legislation, which would ensure New York State’s safety net hospitals receive funding that is critical to providing quality care across the state. Supporters of the bill say these safety net hospitals have never been more needed by patients, especially among communities of color, immigrants, and other working families, but are not getting the funding they

NYC Public Advocate Leticia James and New York State NAACP President Hazel Dukes were among those at the rally

Join us as we salute the 44th President of the United States Barak and First Lady Michelle Obama for their extraordinary service.

The General Baptist Convention of New Jersey “Restructuring for Relevance�

Black History Inaugural Gala Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 5:00 P.M.

Roland Martin, Journalist Keynote Speaker

Rev. Dr. Lester W. Taylor, Jr. Convention President GBCNJ

Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. Senior Pastor First Baptist Church Lincoln Gardens

First Baptist Church Lincoln Gardens Fellowship Hall 771 Somerset Ave, Somerset, NJ 08873 Reservations $75.00 Per Person For Reservations and More Information, Please Contact Sis. Nellie Suggs at: or (908)698-2020 Sis. Barbara D. Strothers at: or (908)627-0018

Make checks payable to the General Baptist Convention of New Jersey

Mobilizing Preachers and Communities MPAC Plans on Having an Impact Photos: Seitu Oronde

The organization intends to use the moral authority earned by the great pastors that came before, and the strength and solidarity of its expansive congregations within the tristate area to create a new paradigm of social, political, and economic action to improve the lives of congregants and citizens of greater New York City and vicinity.

L-R: Bishop Mitchell T. Taylor, Center of Hope International Church, Queens, NY and Jennifer Jones-Austin, Federal Protestant Welfare Association

Rev. Dr. Johnny Green, MPAC president


ed by Rev. Dr. Johnny Green, president of the organization, Mobilizing Preachers and Communities (MPAC) is a non-profit coalition consisting of more than 250 interdenominational churches formed to address issues that impact the communities they serve. The partnership includes social, civic, political, and corporate organizations and philanthropists. The global emphasis of MPAC is foundational in relationships that span the United States and the world. The organization intends to use the moral authority earned by the great pastors that came before, and the strength and solidarity of its expansive congregations within the tristate area to create a new paradigm of social, political, and economic action to improve the lives of congregants and citizens of greater New York City and vicinity. MPAC President Johnny Green hosted a gathering of pastors, ministers, elected officials, and community institutions for a Christmas fellowship meeting at Mount Nebo Baptist Church, Harlem, NY, where he is senior pastor. Among the items discussed were the projects MPAC will put forth around small business development and job creation. Stop and frisk, low-income housing, gentrification, domestic violence, education, and economic development are other pressing issues MPAC plans to have a major impact on helping to ease the causes and effect of these conditions, particularly on people of color. —JNW


The Positive Community

Winter 2017

L-R: Rev. Fred Crawford, Union Grove BC, Bronx, NY and Larry Blackmon, NYC Council Candidate

L-R: Rev. Reginald Bacchus, assoc. pastor, Abyssinian BC, Harlem and Rev. Johnnie McCann, St. Luke BC, Harlem

L-R: Rev. Calvin McKinney, general secretary National Baptist Convention, Inc., Calvary BC, Garfield, NJ; Rev. Kenneth D.R. Clayton, St. Luke BC, Paterson, NJ

Paid for by Murphy for Governor, One Gateway Center, Suite 1025, Newark, NJ 07102

Phil Murphy in Newark Phil Murphy

Interfaith Breakfast Draws Clergy Leaders Photos: Karen Waters


ev. Dr. Perry Simmons , senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Newark hosted an interfath breakfast meeting at the church on December 8, 2016. Guest speaker, New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidate Phil Murphy, engaged the audience in a wide-ranging and passionate discussion, sharing his vision for New Jersey. Over 100 clergy leaders from diverse faiths were eager to meet the Democratic candidate. To the many questions and concerns about economic development, education, and public safety anad Murphy offered clear and possible solutions. One major proposal calls for the creation of a state-owned public bank with the capital necessary to provide small businesses with the financing they need to grow, succeed and create jobs. The bank, owned by the people of New Jersey,would make investments in and for New Jersey. “Such a bank, Murphy said, ”can play a very important role working with community banks like City National Bank to give them more capital to allow that capital to get to small businesses, which right now are being starved,” he explained. Murphy, who opened a campaign office in Newark is a frequent speaker in the city and throughout the state running on his platform of growth. —JNW

Mayor Ras Baraka

(Center) Mildred Crump, Municipal Council president. Second right: Rev. Louise Scott Rountree, Mayor’s Office of Clergy Affairs

Members of the local Muslim clergy with Louise Scott Rountree and Phil Murphy

22 Winter 2017 The

Positive Community

Rev. Felicia Osborne and Phil Murphy

Photo: Lem Peterkin



L–R: Latrice Walker, NYS Assembly; President Dolores ReidBarker; former Congressman Ed Towns; member Rose Sawyer; and Scholarship winner Pyra Sawyer.

Concerned Women of Brooklyn Outstanding Community Leaders Honored


he Concerned Women of Brooklyn sponsored their 37th Annual Luncheon at Giando’s on the Water. They honored ten outstanding community leaders who have distinguished themselves in the fields of education, civic commitment, and the political arena. The organization, headed by Dolores Reid-Barker and Vivian Y. Bright, supports other organizations that focus on helping those with sickle cell disease and lupus, as well as the pediatric department are at Interfaith Medical Center and the NAACP. The women go forward with the mission to help young people based on the a quote by African-American icon Fredrick Douglas — “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken women and men.”

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Winter 2017 The Positive Community


L–R: Honoree Marvin Holland, political director of TWU Union and Chris Owen

Photo: Lem Peterkin

L–R: Honoree Walter Mosley NYS Assemblyman with MLK President Chris Owen

L–R: Honoree Asbury Shepard with Rev. Robert Waterman

Senator Jesse Hamilton

Poet Terry-Ann Lawrence

MLK Commission Honors Assemblyman Mosley Mosley Announces Library Legacy Project for Commission Founder Major Owens


early 200 people attended the 2nd Social Justice Awards Dinner held by the Central Brooklyn MLK Commission Friday, November 13, 2016. Accepting the MLK/Lindsay Award, honoree Assemblyman Walter Mosley announced that he has obtained funding to assist the Brooklyn Public Library in making capital improvements at the Grand Army Plaza Central Branch. The changes will include a remodeled entryway and information center to be named “The Major Owens Welcome Center.” Major Owens was the first professional librarian ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and a former assistant director of the Central Branch.   The Social Justice Awards Dinner marked the 80th  anniversary of Congressman Owens’ birth, the third anniversary of his passing, and the recent passing of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson.   24

The Positive Community

Winter 2017

Brownsville is part of the Brooklyn area that Major Owens represented both in the State Senate and in Congress and the neighborhood where he became known for his community organizing, After a discussion regarding the current challenges facing that community, Senator Jesse Hamilton announced the launch of the Brownsville Campus concept – a comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach to the crises facing the neighborhood. The program included an exciting presentation of “Plantation 2015” — an award-winning poem by author and Brownsville student Terry-Ann Lawrence, a rousing performance by the Brooklyn School for Music & Theatre’s Advanced Chorus, a presentation by Commission members of Congressman Owens’ thoughts and words, and a musical tribute to Congressman Owens by his sons— The Owens Brothers Band.

CSA Executive VP Mark Cannizzaro and Honoree Pamela Randazzo

Pamela Randazzo’s Education award was presented by CSA Executive Vice President Mark Cannizzaro and Shepard-El’s award was presented by Rev. Robert Waterman, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church. The TWU’s award was accepted by Political Director Marvin Holland. Dinner Chairs were U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke; Councilmember Robert Cornegy, Jr.; Public Advocate Letitia James; and Ernest Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA). Event sponsors included TWU Locals 100 and 101, Metal Lathers & Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46, CSA, New York State Nurses Association, United Federation of Teachers, Local 1199 SEIU, SSEU 371, and Commission members Edena Gill and Evy Papillon-Juste. MLK Commission President Chris Owens served as master of ceremonies.

Mother and Daughter Celebrate in Brooklyn Yvette and Una Clarke Dual Birthday

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CELEBRATING DIZZY GILLESPIE Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and music director Vincent Gardner celebrate Dizzy Gillespie’s centennial with treasured standards and new works ROSE THEATER


THE LATIN SIDE OF DIZZY WITH CARLOS HENRIQUEZ Music director and bassist Carlos Henriquez with Pedrito Martinez, Terell Stafford, Mike Rodriguez, Melissa Aldana, Marshall Gilkes, Larry Willis, and Obed Calvaire THE APPEL ROOM

L-R: Leslie Clarke, Sr.; First Lady Chirlane McCray; Dr. Una Clarke; Mayor Bill deBlasio; and Yvette D. Clarke


t has become a tradition and this year was no different. Longtime, cherished friends, family, supporters, and elected officials including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray, Congressmen Gregory Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzales, City Council Member Robert Cornegy, and Assembly Member Diana Richardson were on hand to offer good wishes to mother/daughter birthday celebrants Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and her mother, the Honorable Dr. Una S. T. Clarke. 26 Washington Street in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, was alive with music, merriment, and

Photos: Bruce Moore

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Rep. Yvette D. Clarke and mother, Dr. Una Clarke, trustee, City University of New York (CUNY)

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L-R: Ruth Hulse; Assemblywoman Diana Richardson; and George Hulse, VP Community Engagement at Healthfirst

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L-R: Rep. Hakeen Jeffries, Rep.Clarke, and Rep. Gregory Meeks

heartfelt sentiments as the congresswoman and her number-one fan and role model, her mother, marked another year of mutual admiration and birthday joy.

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc. 45th Annual Gala

L-R: Kenroy Watson and Voza Rivers.


L-R: Reginald Higgins, principal of P.S. 125-Ralph Bunche School; Dr. Hazel est Harlem Group AssisDukes, president of the NAACP NYS Conference; June Andrews-Henderson, tance, Inc. (WHGA) celdeputy director of West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc.; David N. Dinkins, ebrated 45 years of pro106th Mayor, City of New York; Donald C. Notice, executive director of West viding affordable housing and social Harlem Group Assistance, Inc.; and Council Member Inez E. Dickens. services to the West and Central Harlem communities at their 45th Anniversary Fundraiser Gala on Tuesday, October 18th at ESPACE in Midtown Manhattan. Honorees of this year’s gala were acknowledged for their exceptional human service community work, and consisted of some of the greatest ambassadors of democracy, social justice, and education.

Christie Signs First Bill of 2017


ew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie began the year by signing the first bill of 2017, Senate Bill S-3064, into law at the headquarters of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) in Trenton on January 4th. Co – sponsored by Senators Joseph Pennacchio, R-26, Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-28, and Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley, D-20, the law establishes the “Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program” to assist small businesses in meeting state or federal contract surety bond requirements. The revolving fund will be administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.


The Positive Community

Winter 2017

Seated: The Honorable Chris Christie, Governor of NJ Standing L-R: AACCNJ Founder, President & CEO John E. Harmon, Sr.;Sen.Joe Pennacchio; Trenton Mayor Hon. Eric E. Jackson; Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley; AACCNJ Chairman Hosea Johnson, president/CEO Johnson Associates Systems

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Health P R E V E N T I O N , T R E AT M E N T & C U R E

The Healing Revolution Promotes Health & Wellness

Energy Medicine Non Profit Acknowledges Supports At the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church,

Rev. Dr.

Youngblood supports the energy medicine work of The Noble Touch, a non-profit organization that offers non-toxic approaches to mental and physical health challenges. For the last three years, The Noble Touch has held free Community Nights of Healing every first and third Monday of the month from 7 pm to 9 pm at Mount Pisgah for the community to learn about the benefits of energy medicine, as well as receive a free session from an energy wellness practitioner.


ate last year, The Noble Touch held an event to support the Healing Revolution at the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in the Spann Washington Fellowship Hall located at 760 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn. The Healing Revolution is a call to action to empower and encourage people to take back control of their health and make a commitment to their wellness through the use of non-toxic methods. “With the incoming administration threatening to eliminate Obamacare and escalating health care costs, the Healing Revolution is a call to action for individuals to take control of their health and wellness. Every household should have an energy medicine practitioner,” said Jeffrey Vincent Noble, founder and CEO of The Noble


The Positive Community

Winter 2017

Touch. “But, how does one do that? By getting educated about the non-toxic energy medicine modalities available to heal themselves and their family members. The Noble Touch offers a pathway to connect people to the necessary tools to make that happen.” The Noble Touch also presented the Healing Ambassador Award to Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood, the executive pastor and spiritual engineer of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, for his dedication and resources spent on healing Brooklyn residents and members of various faith-based institutions. “The church is like a hospital where thousands of people come every week looking for relief from their pain and suffering,” said Dr. Youngblood. “The church has been offering the same solutions for hundreds of years. We must begin to research all options, traditional and non-traditional, to address the mental and physical health needs in our communities.” At the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Youngblood supports the energy medicine work of The Noble Touch, a non-profit organization that offers non-toxic approaches to mental and physical health challenges. For the last three years, The Noble Touch has held free Community Nights of Healing every first and third Monday of the month from 7 pm to 9 pm at Mount Pisgah for the community to learn about the benefits of energy medicine, as well as receive a free session from an energy wellness practitioner. “A few months ago, I slipped and fell on an entire flight of marble steps. Unfortunately, I didn’t miss one,” said Micki Marshell Brown, a Community Night of Healing participant. “For weeks, I was writhing

in pain and could barely walk upright, as marble is unforgiving. One Monday night, I had no other choice except to attend Noble Touch, because at that point, my every move caused agony. I have NOT been in pain SINCE THAT DAY! If you have not experienced it — I firmly suggest you do. Or you can remain to suffer in pain needlessly.” The event highlighted the work of The Noble Touch, a non-profit organization that has trained 153 volunteer energy wellness practitioners over the past six years. In 2016, The Noble Touch served 1,003 people and trained 31 people in Pranic Healing (an energy medicine system) including 20 doctors, nurses, and social workers at Harlem Hospital. Attendees at the event also experienced meditation and developed their personal “Healing Revolution” health and wellness plan. Founded six years ago, The Noble Touch is established to educate communities with limited health options to embrace and utilize the concept and benefits of energy medicine, which is non-toxic, preventive, and restorative in nature, and complementary to modern medicine. The Noble Touch has quickly become the leading provider of energy medicine and healing services in limited resource communities across New York City, specifically in Brooklyn. The core services are provided by a volunteer group of 130 trained and certified energy wellness practitioners.



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Yes, We Did!


an you believe eight years have passed and we are about to come to the end of our beloved Barack Obama’s presidency? I can honestly say that I will miss our nation’s first African American president and his lovely family. I remember the first time I heard President Obama proclaim, “Yes, we can!” Something happened deep within my soul; hope was aroused and I knew the impossible was about to become a reality. He said that we could and we did! Yes, we did. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning.” (Ecc 7:8 NIV) As we come to the end of The Obama Era, I believe we are much better off than we were when his presidency began. Under president Obama’s leadership, our country survived and overcame the worst economic depression in many years. Although many people lost their homes to foreclosure, many more people could keep their homes through programs and initiatives created by President Obama and his administration. We saw an end to the war in Afghanistan and those who were responsible for 9/11 were brought to justice. Dare I mention the Affordable Care Act? I cannot tell you how many people (of all races) I have met along the way who are now able to afford health insurance and receive optimal medical care. There are also many unspoken intangibles achieved by this administration. The mere fact that for the first time ever, I can look in the eyes of my beautiful children (along with the children I pastor) and declare to each one with all honesty and sincerity that they have the ability to accomplish and become anything they want—including becoming President of the United States. That’s what President Obama did for us. Yes, he did. As we come to the end of the Obama era at the beginning of 2017, it is a great time to reflect upon what you have

32 The Positive Community

Winter 2017

accomplished. So many times, we are on to the next thing without taking a moment to celebrate our accomplishments no matter how small or big. Take Peggy Joyce, a 68-year-old professor of Nursing at Rutgers University. When she began her fitness journey at the Fitness Doctor, she was concerned about her health and ability to maintain a consistent exercise program. One day Peggy said to me with much excitement, “Do you realize that I have been working out here three days a week for almost one year?” I responded, “Congratulations! That means that you have worked out approximately 156 times this year! That is amazing!” Someone once said, “Don’t fear the future or regret the past, but celebrate the present.” Perhaps you need to celebrate what you’ve accomplished thus far. Did you complete a walkathon or marathon? Celebrate it now. Maybe you were finally able to stick to a healthy eating regimen? Celebrate today—but not with cake! Perhaps you were able to decrease the dosage of a prescribed blood pressure medication. Whatever you accomplished, celebrate it today. I pray that the Obamas take a long vacation and get some much-needed rest and relaxation. It is also my prayer, that the President and First Lady take a moment and celebrate all that they will accomplish together by God’s grace in the future. I pray that they celebrate the lives they inspired when they declared “Yes, we can!” and are encouraged by the millions more who can declare with love and joy, “Yes you did!” Thank you, President Obama, for your service and sacrifice Thank you for your intelligence and upright, moral life Thank you for giving us hope when all hope seemed dead Thank you for keeping your word You said, “We could” and we did! May God bless the Obama Family! If you’re interested in a free consultation or more information on FitCare, call 732-921-3746 or email Disclaimer: The information contained in this column is of a general nature. You should consult your physician or health care professional before beginning any exercise prgram or changing your dietary regimen.

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Ben Vereen talks about Diabetes By Raymond Hagan


ony Award winning actor, dancer, and singer, Ben Vereen called for increased awareness of diabetes at two events in New Jersey on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016. Vereen, 70, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes nearly a decade ago, began the morning at the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center of Jersey City, and went on to the YMCA of Newark where he ended the long day at 5 o’clock after telling his story to attentive audiences in both places. They were excited to meet the star, and even more so to receive the encouragement he provided about living with diabetes. Congressman Donald Payne Jr.’s office, in collaboration with the Mayor’s office of Jersey City, YMCA of Newark, Newark Department of Health, and Horizon BCBSNJ hosted the events featuring Vereen, sponsored by Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk is leading the way in diabetes care with a compre-

hensive diabetes treatment portfolio. The Tony-winning star recalled a conversation he had with Patti LaBelle after his diagnosis. “She said, ‘Look, Honey, I have diabetes. Diabetes does not have me. We can live with this thing,’” recalled Vereen. Wearing a baseball cap that read “Spiritual Enforcer,” Vereen urged everyone with diabetes to see their doctor, exercise, eat healthy, and think positively. U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-NJ 10th District, joined Vereen at both events to tell of his own diabetes battle. “We should not be ashamed that we live with diabetes,” he said. The events also included community groups and businesses such as the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the Diabetes Foundation, ShopRite, Walgreens, Sanofi, and Eli Lilly providing information on the disease, how to shop and eat healthier, exercise tips, and more. Payne, 57, was diagnosed with

Type 2 diabetes 20 years ago. The congressman told the crowd that he used to consider himself a “non-compliant diabetic,” and Ben Vereen said his cavalier attitude about the disease led to medical problems later in life. Specifically, he revealed, he had begun to lose his sight, forcing him to suffer through 12 eye injections. “It’s not the most pleasant thing, but you want to keep your eyesight,” Payne explained. “But I can see you all.” Then, regarding the results of not getting treatment, he warned, “If you don’t heed what Mr. Vereen is saying, you’ll have a story like this to tell.” Vereen rose to fame on Broadway, appearing in Jesus Christ Superstar and Pippin, for which he won a Tony Award. He also appeared in the television mini-series Roots. Photos: Ray Hagans

Obiora Onwubuya from Walgreens

L-R: Christina Assaf, Alison Handler, Brendan Crooker, and Yvette Garcia

Ben Vereen has fun with the audience


The Positive Community

Winter 2017

L-R: Ben Vereen with Hannah Kim, and Sarah Jones both of Horizon BCBS NJ

SPH-1761 Positive Community - Diabetes Ad 8X10.5 MECH_SPH-1713 Positive Community - Diabetes Ad 8X10.5 1/13/17 12:36 PM Page 1

Don’t let diabetes and hypertension control your life.

if you suffer or are at risk for diabetes and hypertension, saint Peter’s university Hospital can help. if you are 18 years of age or older, you can receive high quality care to better manage these chronic diseases—even if you have no insurance or not enough of it to cover long-term medical expenses. in one convenient location at The Diabetes and Hypertension center at saint Peter’s Family Health center, you can benefit from comprehensive care provided by physicians, nurses, a nutritionist and a social worker, all experienced in helping you to better manage your diabetes and hypertension. in addition to primary care and follow-up care, we offer: ■

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our goal is to help you make healthy lifestyle changes so that you can succeed in managing your diabetes and hypertension, and ultimately, reduce emergency room visits and hospital stays. To learn more about The Diabetes and Hypertension Center at Saint Peter’s Family Health Center, call 732.339.7672 or visit

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Winter 2017





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Education D

Transforming a Vision to a Village

uring his 5th State of the Union address, President Obama evoked a message of hope: “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.” It is this same sentiment that led to the establishment of Marion P. Thomas Charter School (MPTCS). Eighteen years ago, the late Rev. Dr. Charles E. Thomas, former pastor of Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church, challenged his congregants to do something that would impact the residents of Newark. “We [members of the church] made a commitment to empower the Newark community and the tool that we chose was to start a school,” explained Dr. Karen Thomas, MPTCS co-founder and CEO.

MPTCS Middle School Learning Zone

MPTCS High School of Culinary & Performing Arts equipping scholars for college and careers


The Positive Community

Winter 2017

You too can become a part of the MPTCS Village! To find out more, visit

After years of planning and fundraising, Rev. Thomas’ vision became a reality when the school opened its doors in 1999 to 60 students in kindergarten through second grade. Unfortunately, Marion Thomas, an early champion of the school and the pastor’s wife, succumbed to cancer before the school opened. To memorialize her commitment to future generations, the school was named in her honor. What began as a vision within the pews of New Hope is now the largest minority-led, independently-operated, free public charter school in New Jersey. Starting with 60 students and four classrooms, MPTCS now serves over 1,300 across four campuses featuring: • MPTCS Elementary Campus, which encompasses kindergarten through 5th grade, provides a strong academic foundation in a nurturing environment. The elementary program is focused on creating an exciting learning environment that lays the groundwork to excel in middle school and beyond.

MPTCS SELECT Elementary Academy Scholars thrive in all boys and all girls classes (girls with Principal John Gamble)

• MPTCS SELECT (Scholars Exhibiting Lasting Excellence, Character and Teamwork) Elementary Academy is a single gender program offering all girls and all boys classes in 2nd through 6th grades. This gender-based program employs teaching methods and activities that are specifically designed for the different ways boys and girls acquire and process knowledge. • MPTCS Middle School Campus, serves as a bridge to high school. At MPTCS Middle School the fundamentals learned in the elementary schools are merged with new challenges and rigor in an environment designed to equip emerging teens with the tools and confidence to thrive in high school and beyond. • MPTCS High School of Culinary & Performing Arts, formerly known as Visions Academy, was established by another Newark faith-based institution, St. James AME. MPTCS acquired the school in 2014. The new high school equips scholars for college and helps them to develop marketable skills that will serve as a foundation for a career.

MPTCS kindergarten scholar perfecting her writing

With roots deeply embedded in the Newark community, MPTCS will continue to thrive with the help of Newarkers. The school motto, “It takes a whole village to raise a child,” bears testament to its commitment to engage those who work, live, and worship in Newark to help educate, inspire, and invest in Newark’s next generation. Come and join us!

Winter 2017 The Positive Community




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The 37th Annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series

Black Urban History Since 1967


The Paul Robeson Campus Center Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102

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Presented by the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience; the Federated Department of History, Rutgers University-Newark/New Jersey Institute of Technology; and the Department of African American and African Studies.

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Winter 2017 The Positive Community


NYTS Day at Baptist Ministers Conference


L-R: Dr. Dale Irving; Rev. John L. Scott, program chair; Rev. Dr. Betty Spencer; Rev. Dr. C. Vernon Mason, NYTS; and Conference President Rev. James D. Morrison

ecember 12, 2016 marked the 2nd annual “New York Theological Seminary Day” hosted by the Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Greater New York and Vicinity (BMCGNY&V). The conference, home to countless NYTS alumni/ae, welcomed Dr. Dale T. Irvin, NYTS president and professor of World Christianity. Dr. Irvin served as the “Order of the Day Preacher” and delivered an inspiring message. The conference, which meets every Monday at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church, applauded the NYTS alumni/ae members and faculty in attendance. The organizations maintain a filial relationship and have worked together in partnership as servants of God over the years. The Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Greater New York and Vicinity is a body of pastors and ministers founded in 1898. The mission of the conference is to promote amity and good fellowship among its members and maintain a vigilant, prophetic eye of concern on matters that affect humankind.

Photos: Bruce Moore

Adrian Council, Sr. addresses conference as 2nd Vice President James B. Barnwell, III looks on from the pulpit


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“On the Horizon of Hope”

Friday, February 3, 2017 reCeption - 5:30 p.m. WorShip ServiCe - 7:00 p.m.

Lenox road baptiSt ChurCh 1356 noStrand avenue brookLyn, ny 11226

All StudentS, Alumni/Ae, FriendS And FAmily Are Welcome!

open to the public! Guest Preacher

rev. dr. JameS aLexander ForbeS, Jr. Founder & President Healing of the Nations Foundation

Senior Minister Emeritus The Riverside Church in the City of New York

For additionaL inFormation/rSvp pLeaSe viSit: NYTSCONVOCATION17.EVENTBRITE.COM NYTS | 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 500 | New York, NY 10115 | Tel: 212-870-1211 | Fax: 212-870-1236 |

33 Years of Service

Cathedral International Celebrates Bishop Hilliard


ishop Donald Hilliard, Jr. celebrated 33 years as pastor of Cathedral International, the former Second Baptist Church in Perth Amboy, NJ. Bishop Donald and Co-Pastor Phyllis Hilliard have shepherded a vibrant ministry that continues to serve the specific needs of three locations in New Jersey—Perth Amboy, Asbury Park, and Plainfield, as well as Iglesia Catedral Internacional, a Spanish-language church in Perth Amboy.

According to Hilliard, the now successful men’s ministry is one of the greatest accomplishments of Hilliard’s 33 years as pastor. He passionately teaches, “If we save a man, we’ll save a seed; save a seed, we can save a family; if we save a family, we will save a community.” Congratulations to the Hilliards. Preach on, lead on, save on - your work continues to bless thousands.

Photos: David Dubois


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United Missionary Baptist Installation


n Friday December 2, 2016 the United Missionary Baptist Convention of New Jersey, Inc. gathered at its convention headquarters, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Newark for the installation of state officers. Rev. Jesse Bottoms, VP Northeast Region NBC-USA, brought greetings and congratulated the convention. Rev. Gregory J. Jackson acknowledged the convention’s dedication to mission work and thanked them for the donation to the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention. In his sermon, “A New Anointing For A New Assignment” (Isaiah 6:6), Rev. Joe L. Brown, pastor, Faith Baptist Church, Hempstead, NY, encouraged the leadership to continually strive for mission excellence in Christ.

L-R: Rev. Cedric McCoy 3rd VP; Rev. Dr. Marilyn M. Harris 1st VP; Rev. Dr. Robert L. Curry, convention president; Rev. Jesse Bottoms, VP Northeast Region NBC-USA, Inc.; Rev. Andre W. Milteer, 2nd VP

Shiloh Association Mass Choir


The Positive Community

Convention President Rev. Dr. Robert L. Curry, United Missionary Baptist Convention State of New Jersey, Inc.

Winter 2017










CITY TECH 300 Jay Street, Downtown Brooklyn

718.260.5500 • WWW.CITYTECH.CUNY.EDU/DIRECTADMISSIONS • @citytechnews


More than 50 Associate Degree programs 26 Academic and Professional Certificates Convenient locations High quality affordable education Proven transfer track record

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


L I F E , M U S I C , A R T & L I T E R AT U R E Photo: Karen Waters

Yolanda Adams with Maestro Chew

Culture L–R: Rev. Lester Taylor, his wife Gail, and NYS Supreme Court Judge Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy

L-R: Cantor Chaim David Berson, Rabbi Ethan Witkovsky, Vivian Scott Chew, Cantor Azi Schwartz and Ray Chew

A Night of Inspiration At Carnegie

Dionne Warwick


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Winter 2017


he excited gospel music enthusiasts packed Carnegie Hall for an evening of uplifting music under the direction of acclaimed producer and composer Ray Chew, who conducted the 64-piece orchestra. Conceived by Chew and his wife and business partner, Vivian Scott Chew, and themed as “A Night of Inspiration,” Chew explained, “It was important for us to show inspiration in all of its forms, with traditional and contemporary gospel, pop, opera, and classical music along with the art of dance.” The program featured an all-star roster of artists including Yolanda Adams, Lawrence Brownlee, Shirley Caesar, Kurt Carr, Olen Cesari, Donnie McClurkin, Cantor Azi Schwartz, Richard Smallwood, Dionne Warwick, singers from the New Faith Church from Cape Town, South Africa, and a 2,200-voice choir directed by Rev. Dr. Lester W. Taylor, pastor of the Community Baptist Church in Englewood, New Jersey. “Vivian and I feel blessed with the opportunity to once again present a sampling of what inspires us here at Carnegie Hall,” said Chew. His work with orchestras as a conductor and a composer has carried him to prestigious venues all over the world—from the Hollywood Bowl in L.A. to the Nobel Peace Prize broadcast in Norway. — JNW

Dr. Guy Campbell, Jr., outgoing president

Dr. Cory L. Jones, recording secretary and host pastor

Darrel Koon, Laymen’s Movement president and Emma Lewis Jackson, Usher’s Auxiliary president

Sacred Service of Installation

Photos: Karen Waters

Dr. Lester W. Taylor. Jr.

L–R: Dr. Perry Simmons, Jr., former president GBC; Dr. Jessie Bottoms, Northeast Regional VP, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (NBC); President Dr. Lester W. Taylor, Jr.; Dr. Calvin McKinney, general secretary, NBC; Dr. William Freeman, former GBC president

President Taylor receives congratulations from Rev. “Buster” Soaries; Rev. Calvin McKinney looks on

General Baptist Convention of New Jersey, Incorporated


r. Lester W. Taylor, Jr., senior pastor of Community Baptist Church of Englewood, is the newly installed president of the General Baptist Convention of New Jersey, Inc. Newly elected officers were installed on Saturday, December 3, 2016, during ceremonies at Taber-

nacle Baptist Church of Burlington, New Jersey, where the Rev. Dr. Cory L. Jones is pastor. Constituents came from far and near for the standing-room only event to witness the changing of the guard that according to President Taylor has as its focus, “Restructuring for Relevance.”

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


Photos: Jarrett Murphy

Pastor Morgan with Bridgeton, NJ Mayor Albert Kelly

The Gala for God’s Mailman

Honoree Pastor Albert L. Morgan and deacons Prayer of Consecration


he Reverend Dr. Albert L. Morgan, pastor of Union Baptist Church in Bridgeton, NJ, gives glory to God for the blessing of the weekend of November 12th and 13th. On Saturday he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Augustine Graduate School, Pompano, FL. On Sunday, Union Baptist Temple hosted “A Gala for God’s Mailman” at the luxurious Merion in Cinnaminson, NJ. The gala was the final tribute for the 30th pastoral anniversary celebration, spearheaded by Deaconess Thelma Scott and Deacon Barry Ballard. Over five hundred guests enjoyed a reception in the Palace Ballroom, portrait photography by Photo Illusions, and the “I will Make You Fishers of Men” display in the Grand Hallway, before being seated in the Palazza Ballroom for the gala.


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Winter 2017

Minister Will Turner and Minister Braheem Gunter, spiritual sons of the honoree, served as hosts. Pastor Morgan’s parents, L.E. and Gloria Morgan, beamed with pride as the Deacons’ Ministry of the temple escorted their son into the Palazza. Pastor Morgan thanked the church for growing with him, advancing the kingdom of God, and loving his parents and siblings. He expressed his gratitude to the anniversary committee and all who made the event so spectacular, as well as the many friends who traveled from far and near — St. Louis, North Carolina, South Carolina, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Delaware, Philadelphia, North Jersey, South Jersey— and around the corner to be with him and encourage him to continue to deliver God’s mail. God Has Done It Again!







thu jan


sat jan


sun jan




fri feb




Opening Act: JACKIE GAGE

fri feb


sat feb


tue feb






fri feb

Valentine’s Celebration with









49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ

For related information on programs and tours, visit Major support provided by:

Tsimshian artist, British Columbia. Chief’s Headdress Frontlet, 19th century. Wood, paint and abalone shell, 8 ½ x 8 x 5 ½ in. Gift of Dr. William S. Disbrow, 1919 19.775

Additional support by: E.J. Grassmann Trust, Union Foundation, Richmond County Savings Foundation

Holiday Meet & Greet Newark’s First Lady of Jazz, Dorthaan Kirk of WBGO, stopped by to share news about the jazz brunch concert season beginning Sunday, January 22nd. Dorthaan’s Place Jazz Brunch, a Sunday afternoon concert series at NJPAC, is presented by WBGO Jazz 88. On Friday, February 17th, AAHA will team up with The Positive Community, to launch by popular demand, the Friday Night Fish Fry, a soul food and music experience in the Crystal Room at the Robert Treat Hotel. Save the date. For more information call: 973-233-9200

Photos: Karen Waters


holiday meet and greet took place Thursday, December 22, 2016 at Maize Restaurant inside the Robert Treat Hotel, Newark, NJ. This special reception bought together mentees of Don Viapree, the health advocacy volunteers of African Americans for Health Awareness (AAHA), and The Positive Community magazine family. During the fellowship we discussed Rev. Al Taylor of Harlem’s Prayer Walk for Peace from NYC to Chicago in August, and his return walk through Newark en route to the Windy City

L-R: Adrian Council, Sr. and Dorthaan Kirk

Andrew Frasier, small business consultant and founder of the Power Breakfast

L-R: Charlene Williams, WBGO; guest, Stephanie Burroughs; and Sheila Anderson, WBGO

L-R: Peter Gillo, TPC, Marc Williams, TPC, Artie Smallwood with guest

Hon. Calvin West and Dan DeNose, educator

L-R: Kaylyn Dines, Clara Maas Medical Center; Dr. Barbra Johnson, Thomas Edison College; Rev. Louise Scott-Rountree, Clergy Affairs, City of Newark; Hon. Mildred C. Crump, Municipal Council president, City of Newark; back row: Rev. Al Taylor


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Winter 2017

Kimberlee Williams, senior entrepreneur in residence at Rutgers Business School Center

A`Dorian Murray-Thomas, founder and executive director of SHE Wins Inc., and Marc Williams, TPC







Dress to Impress • Mature Adults Only (21+) Tickets: $25 in Advance, $30 at the Door (Includes Soul Food Buffet) Limited Seating Available • Reserve Your tickets now • Reservations: 973-233-9200 An Arts Culture and Entertainment Group Production Go to our Website to order tickets online: African Americans for Health Awareness


The Obamas: Hope, Change, and Gospel Music GRACE & PEACE


t the closing of a two-term presidency, we can look back and see the authentic heart and soul of a man, our 44th President, Barack Obama, who was inspired by great music—and not just any music, but gospel and soul music. In the beginning (2008), we heard Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Not only did it inspire a promise, but it proved to be a hope from an old song, used to bring the hope of determined people to inspire a movement toward a dream once had by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. I believe that gospel music has made an outstanding contribution in the White House, not just in the traditional celebration started by former President Clinton, but no matter what type of celebration was held (celebrating the troops, etc.), President Obama made sure that a gospel selection went forth. Our President credited much of the strength of survival to the deep, soulful power of gospel music. He explained what it meant in his 2015 speech honoring our genre. “Over time, those spirituals blended with hymns and sacred songs to become the music of the black church. But the gospel music we know today really started in the 1930s when jazz musician Thomas A. Dorsey combined the sounds of the church he grew up in with the jazz and blues that he loved.” He continued, “By the 1960s, gospel music had become central in the Civil Rights Movement—not just through the political activism of legends like Mahalia Jackson and the Staple Singers, but through the songs themselves from hymns like ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord,’ a favorite of Dr. King’s, to the anthem of the movement, ‘We Shall Overcome.’” Oh, they had a good time in the White House as they celebrated with Pastor Shirley Caesar,

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Rance Allen, Tamela Mann, The Morgan State University Choir, and Ms. Aretha Franklin, to name a few. “Gospel Songs are the songs of hope,” our President said. And who could forget when Mr. President sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. It was said that it was a last minute decision for the President to sing and his staff wasn’t sure whether or not he should. However, President Obama relied on his faith and hope saying, “I think if I sing, the church will sing with me.” And the timing was perfect—because that’s how our God works! Knowing that we as Christians must walk in the same love and forgiveness as Christ did for all of us, we have to remind ourselves that it is only by God’s amazing grace that we continue to move forward in our faith in spite of the evil that surrounds us. The final musical celebration for the Obamas didn’t disappoint. “We have Michelle Williams… And we have Yolanda Adams,” the First Lady exclaimed. “Oh, my gosh! . . . These are ‘sangers.’ They ‘sang.’ You know, there are people out there—you know —they sing. But these women, they ‘SANG!’” It has been a challenging eight years; with the good came some bad. We had triumphs and tragedies, but God brought us through and gospel music was there for the long haul. We will continue to sing about the one who can deliver us through Jesus Christ. As we go into the New Year, we will not lose our praise, our faith will be greater. And knowing that what will happen next is the ultimate plan of God, we will leave it in the hands of our Savior! Mrs. Obama summed it up in an interview with Oprah Winfrey saying, “We came in with change and we’re leaving with hope.” We thank you for your service and we will not give up hope!

Memories of these shows will last a lifetime!

Patti LaBelle February 12

Dance Theatre of Harlem

Gladys Knight The Whispers

An Evening with Nelly

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

Sunday, January 15 at 7pm

The chart-topping rapper, singer and songwriter and his band perform greatest hits, backed by a symphony orchestra.

Saturday, January 14 at 8pm Experience the passion, power and perfection of Dance Theatre of Harlem, returning for NJPAC’s annual tribute to MLK.

Friday, January 27 at 8pm

An evening of timeless music with “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight plus the classic R&B sound of The Whispers.

Budapest Festival Orchestra Iván Fischer, conductor Richard Goode, piano

Michael Bolton

Saturday, February 4 at 8pm

Two soulful, chart-topping vocalists share a Valentine’s weekend bill!

The Budapest Festival Orchestra performs the Fifth Symphony in an all-Beethoven program.

and special guest

Stephanie Mills Friday, February 17 at 8pm

Yannick Lebrun. Photo by Andrew Eccles

Coming this April—Wayne Shorter Weekend!

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company Year of the Rooster

Arlo Guthrie Taj Mahal Friday, March 3 at 8pm

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Saturday, January 28 at 2pm Sunday, January 29 at 2pm

The folk music icon and country & blues artist together on stage!

Friday, May 12 at 8pm Saturday, May 13 at 8pm Sunday, May 14 at 3pm

One of the most colorful and joyus family traditions at NJPAC!

This always dazzling company returns with new works and classics.

Esperanza Spalding

Herbie Hancock

April 21-23

Featuring Esperanza Spalding, Herbie Hancock, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Christian McBride, Joe Lovano and more!



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Winter 2017






TELECHARGE .COM • (212) 239-6200 • Lead support for August Wilson’s Jitney has been provided by MTC’s Producing Fund Partner, Andrew Martin-Weber. Special thanks to The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for supporting Manhattan Theatre Club. Photographs by Kareem Black.

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


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Call: (973) 233-9200 (ask for Rick)

Check out our new website • Post your messages of hope and encouragement as we come to the year’s end. Send greetings of peace and goodwill to all! • Now online spectacular photos from Brooklyn’s St. Paul Community Baptist Church’s annual MAAFA Suite • Check out our special coverage of Circle of Sisters • See exclusive videos of The Positive

Community’s Business Roundtables.

• Subscribe to our weekly newsletter That’s What’s Up



SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2017 AT THE HISTORIC RIVERSIDE CHURCH 91 Claremont Avenue • New York, NY Between 120th and 121st Street FOR FURTHER INFORMATION GO TO

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS THURSDAY, FEB. 16 EXHIBITION AND SALE : 6 PM – 10 PM VIP CHAMPAGNE TOAST: 5:30 PM – 6 PM • OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION: 6 PM – 10 PM Hosted by Delta Sigma Theta (BAC) & Riverside Church Foundation ► SALUTE to AFRICAN AMERICANS in MEDICINE (15 Plus Hospitals from the Tristate area of NY, NJ & CT)

Special Achievement Award to Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, lll (Abyssinian B.C.) Live Music • Passed Hors D’ouerves Beverages alcoholic/non-alcoholic FRIDAY, FEB. 17 YOUTH EMPOWERMENT DAY: 9 AM – 1 PM

Exhibition Open for Commercial Sales to Galleries & Museums: 2 PM – 4 PM COUNCIL OF URBAN PROFESSIONALS CELEBRATION (CUPUSA): 6 PM – 11 PM SATURDAY, FEB. 18 EXHIBITION AND SALE: 10 AM – 11 PM TALKING BEAUTY LUNCHEON: 12 PM – 3 PM FASHION AND STYLE EVENT: 6 PM – 11 PM SUNDAY, FEB. 19 EXHIBITION AND SALE: 12 PM – 6 PM GOSPEL BRUNCH: 12 PM - 4 PM SALUTE to AFRICAN AMERICAN NURSES (Special Celebration for Lincoln Hospital & Harlem Hospital School of Nursing, founded 1923)




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The Positive Community Special Section Barack Obama: A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017

May goodness and mercy follow them all the days of their lives And let them dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Thank you Mr. President For the example you set for our nation’s children and the audacity of hope you brought, which lifted us all, together. United Federation of Teachers • A Union of Professionals Officers: Michael Mulgrew President, Howard Schoor Secretary, Mel Aaronson Treasurer, LeRoy Barr Assistant Secretary, Thomas Brown Assistant Treasurer Vice Presidents: Karen Alford, Carmen Alvarez, Evelyn DeJesus, Anne Goldman, Janella Hinds, Richard Mantell, Sterling Roberson

Promises Kept, More to Do BY DORINE BETHEA Obama’s Alma Mater Expands in Harlem

HIS LEGACY AS THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN TO LEAD THE FREE WORLD IS SEALED. hen President Barack Obama comes to Harlem again—specifically to West Harlem, where Columbia University—his alma mater— is expanding its home—the visit will give residents, community leaders, and entrepreneurs as much to shout about as their neighbors in academia are celebrating. The Ivy League university is investing $6 billion into its new campus in the community’s Manhattanville section. The first buildings in the project’s initial phase— the Lenfest Center for the Arts and the Jerome L. Greene Science Center—open this spring. In her position at Columbia, Senior Vice President for Strategic Communications and Construction Business Initiatives La-Verna J. Fountain monitors construction projects and a set of remedies prescribed for economic health in West Harlem. As one phase ends and another begins in the school’s first major expansion in 100 years, the prognoLa-Verna sis is promising for an economic renewal J. Fountain that employs a diverse workforce.


The dots are beginning to connect—in Fountain’s work and life, in community relations, and in the project’s progress. “In many ways, I was born for such a time as this,” said Fountain. Like Obama, her background is rooted in community development. She traveled nationally for former employer, Save The Children, before joining Columbia. “To be here for this project that had the opportunity to change lives, is very significant.” Fountain arrived in 2007, a year before the project’s pre-construction began. The university’s relationship with the community has evolved over several decades and it deepened during “an era of optimism” following Obama’s election. Today, residents and activists value the chance to sit at the table, be heard, and contribute to bridge building that’s pushing progress. Partnerships are forming. Projects and programs are underway. Obama “would be proud of his alma mater doing something that for several decades to come creates a pathway that could literally change the trajectory of the future for people who currently live in poverty,” Fountain stated. KEEPING THE PROMISE Columbia has a unique partnership with residents in Manhattan’s Community District 9. The university and the West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) signed a community benefits agreement in 2009 that lays the groundwork for development in the workingclass community. Columbia is investing more than $150 million in new benefits to the community. The WHDC independently manages $76 million to be used at the discretion of the community in ways they see fit. Residents can access services and resources at Columbia to create and fulfill their vision for community. “Development in our name is for human capital,” said Kofi Boateng, executive director of WHDC. continued on next page Winter 2017 The Positive Community


PROMISES KEPTcontinued from previous page For campus construction, the school pledged to hire a workforce comprised of 50 percent minority, women, and local residents over the life of the project. So far, it has kept its promise. In fact, the school exceeded its goal that minorities, women, and local residents (MWL) represent 40 percent of the construction workforce. MWL workforce clocked 50 percent of 1.2 million hours spent on non-specialty construction work at the Manhattanville campus. Columba paid $132 million to MWL-owned firms for non-specialty construction work. That’s less than one percentage point short of its 35 percent goal. “We are serious about making sure we’re meeting these very high goals,” explained Fountain. “Over a five-year period, we were able to really put significant money in minority, women, and local-owned firms’ hands.” CASE STUDY “These things don’t just happen,” social justice advocate Rev. Jacques DeGraff said. “It has taken compassion, wisdom, Rev. Jacques DeGraff and commitment to get this far. In these changing times, Columbia has shown each. They brought in some good people on their staff and then listened to them, which then led them to listen to the community. That was the formula for success,” said DeGraff, who has been excited and delighted by the results of bridge building efforts in which he participated. “It’s an inside outside job.” The university also includ-

ed the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Harlem Business Alliance, and Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone in the process. “This ought to be a case study about how to engage a community when expansion is going to happen,” DeGraff emphasized. He commended Columbia for its diligence in reestablishing a relationship with the community, breaking through skepticism, and responding to needs of businesses. Some businesses, for example, are challenged when it takes two to three months to receive pay for work. Adjustments were necessary to process invoices in a timely manner. “They are not compromises to the integrity of the process,” he said. “They are what I call compassionate adjustments, which Columbia has done.” MORE TO DO At the same time, Columbia can and should do more to support business. “It’s not enough to encourage minority and womenowned businesses to get engaged,” DeGraff articulated. “You’ve got to reach out and let them know you have a program.” Some residents see no immediate benefit for themselves and nearby communities on the other side of the train tracks, where campus construction is underway along Broadway near W. 125th Street. Businesses have been displaced, and despite talks with Columbia about employment opportunities, only a few among the unemployed have landed jobs, community board leaders said. “The jobs on the construction site are union jobs,”

Obama at Columbia in 1986

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CB9 2nd Vice-Chair Victor Edwards said. “The majority of people that live in that area, whether it be in Grant, or Manhattan, they’re not union workers. They don’t have a union card.” Going past the site, he has seen some women. “It is very difficult for the residents who live in that area to get those jobs,” said Edwards, who also leads CB9’s strategic planning committee. “You might see minority faces on some of the work sites. By and large, they are not residents of the CB9 community. They are from other places.” Edwards and the Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, pastor of Mustard Seed Ministries, advocate establishing an apprenticeship program for young adults, 18 to 25 years old. It would serve residents that prefer vocational training to academic studies. As part of the CBA, Columbia will recruit students from the area and provide financial support through a scholarship fund. “Everybody is not going to go to college,” said Morgan-Thomas, who describes interaction with Columbia as “workable and receptive.” “Our young people need to start getting training” in electrical and plumbing, car repairs and furniture building. With residents facing critical needs in employment, affordable housing, and support for entrepreneurs, she said they are less inclined to hold on to Columbia’s past behaviors. “They are looking more at what Columbia is doing currently and looking forward to the possibility that the benefits can burst forward like a stream in the desert.” The accessibility to key university people is reassuring and a “great opportunity to make sure needs of the community are expressed. We’re seeing movement but we’re not seeing as much as the community board would like to see, given the population.” TIME TO PREPARE The work continues. The science center is a 21st century, nine-story structure, filling space where empty lots and warehouses once lined Broadway. “Despite hearing ‘no’ to our aspirations for so long,” DeGraff stated, “now is not the time to disengage.” The center can be intimidating to residents as they look from their bedroom windows in Manhattanville or Grant public housing complex. “You might say ‘those people don’t care about me,’ and ‘there is nothing over there for me,’ but opportunity is literally across the street,” DeGraff said. DeGraff stressed the need for residents and community to engage young people and bring them into this process. Businesses need to prepare for growth.

“The American way is to grow. When businesses grow, they create jobs in the community,” he said. “If you’re ready, willing, and able, we’ve got a place for you.” Be not afraid. OUR HOME, TOO “What I can’t see, I envision,” Fountain said. She hopes the community will develop its own vision, both individually and collectively. WHDC is positioned to receive ideas for new visions for the community. It has resources to fund development. The vision “has to come from the community, and it has to say ‘we see you Columbia’ and ‘you’re not by yourself. You’re a part of our community. We’re in Lee C. Bollinger this together,’” Fountain said. She encourages anyone aspiring to work on the project to take advantage of mentorship and executive coaching programs available to prepare and train individuals and companies. “The reality is, we have a long way to go. It is really important that people understand the long-term nature of this.” It will take years to finish the expansion. That gives anyone interested time to gain experience and necessary training to position themselves for future opportunities. University President Lee C. Bollinger expressed pride and appreciation to friends and neighbors for work accomplished through relationships with the community over the past six years. Intense discussions. Thinking. Planning. At the University’s annual community breakfast, Bollinger was emphatic. “We built our relationships with all of you and with people who live here, and we wanted to say this is our home, too. The partnership, this relationship, is in a sense, deep and sound. But it will grow and grow and grow, I promise you.” So Columbia is not done with West Harlem and the 44th President of the United States is not either. “He’s made it very clear that he plans to do something with his alma mater after his term ends, “ Fountain revealed. “And whatever President Obama decides to do I’m certainly looking forward to it.” Dorine Bethea is an independent journalist based in New Jersey. She has written and edited for such publications as ESSENCE, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and several daily newspapers. Dorine has taught journalism at Rutgers University and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. Winter 2017 The Positive Community


Naacp New Jersey State Conference To ensure the political, educational, social And economic equality of rights of all persons

On behalf of the 41 New Jersey NAACP Branches And the Youth and College Division: Thank you Mr. President for being an inspiration to millions of boys and girls. For always taking the higher road- no matter the situation. For allowing us to see what a compassionate leader can look like For being a role model for husbands and fathers For your clearly identifiable swag For being a dream come true to our elders For showing possibility to our youth For being able to cry and to laugh with us and in front of us For inspiring us with your vision, your eloquence, your courage We wish you, first Lady Michelle and your daughters much peace and love in your next chapter. We drink from the “spring of hope” and work to achieve a common good, a greater good knowing that As you stated in your farewell speech, “we rise or fall as one.”

New Jersey State Conference NAACP Officers: Richard T. Smith – President Adrienne Sanders – 1st Vice President Loretta H. Winters – 2nd Vice President Bruce Morgan – 3rd Vice President Vivian M. J. Darkes – Secretary Kyra Price – Assistant Secretary LaTanya Nelson – Treasurer Francine Cartwright – Assistant Treasurer

Richard T. Smith

Educational JUSTICE Educational JUSTICE Economic JUSTICE Economic JUSTICE Social JUSTICE Social JUSTICE “We have an obligation and “We have an obligation and a responsibility to be investing a responsibility to be investing in our students and in our students and our schools. our schools. We must make sure that We must make sure that peoplewho whohave havethe the people grades,the thedesire desire grades, andthe thewill, will,but but and notthe themoney, money,can can not stillget getthe thebest best still educationpossible.” possible.” education BarackObama Obama ––Barack Wendell WendellSteinhauer Steinhauer President President

Marie Marie Blistan Blistan

Sean SeanM. M.Spiller Spiller

Vice Vice President President

Secretary-Treasurer Secretary-Treasurer

Edward Edward J. J. Richardson Richardson

Steven StevenSwetsky Swetsky

Executive Director

Executive Director

Asst. Executive Director

Asst. Executive Director

The members of the New Jersey Education Association… Theworking members the New Jersey Education Association… forofgreat public schools for EVERY child!

working for great public schools for EVERY child!

MLK and Obama: How They Intersect BY REV. DR. M. WILLIAM HOWARD, JR.


lack nationalistic thought occupied a respect able place in African American history as early as the 19th century, and is typified later in such movements as the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the Nation of Islam, and the Republic of New Afrika. However, the quest for inclusion, acceptance, and full citizenship rights has been the main theme of black civic hope. Organizations that focused almost entirely on equality—religious, civic, professional, and social groupings of Black America—were founded in the post-reconstruction period. Equality was a fundamental value that shot through them. Not repatriation to Africa or revolution, but inclusion in a nonracial, just America. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. best articulated this vision at the 1963 March on Washington, when he spoke of a nation in which his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It was as if, despite their actual experience of brutal oppression, black people saw something in the stated ideals of the republic with which they could call their white compatriots to account. In his public orations, King more effectively than any before him, “played back” to the power elite and to the general pop-

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ulation of the country, the woeful contradictions between the fact of black dehumanization on the one hand, and the rhetorical proclamations of the nation’s founding documents on the other. By the time of his death, Dr. King had become more “radical,” believing that a revolution of values was necessary if the nation were to manifest its real promise; that America without a deep course change was structurally condemned to perpetuate racism, poverty, and violence. Yet African Americans, by and large, were slow to embrace the latter-day King, choosing instead to remain wedded to King’s earlier “dream.” What they presumed he saw from the “mountaintop” in Memphis the evening before he was assassinated was equal opportunity and fair play for the Negro within the existing American framework. And with the exception of the Black Panther Party, and the demand for reparations by the Black Economic Development Conference, virtually no black agency has veered from this ideal since. Blacks seeking advancement in professional companies; blacks leading business enterprises; and blacks seeking elective office became the most visible preoccupations of a growing black middle class. Meanwhile, the plight of

the suffering black and poor masses, which concerned Dr. King the most, by 1967 continued unabated. The harder beneficiaries of civil rights advances worked, the stronger the backlash. By the late 70s affirmative action had come and was all but gone. Blacks were more segregated than ever. There were more local black elected officials than ever, and we were even more isolated and ghettoized. A permanent wedge had been driven between the black haves and have-nots. Virtually all the prescriptions for wholesale admission into the American mainstream had failed us. Where would we go from here? Black frustration over these imponderables may help to explain the burst of emotion shown when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. His election challenged black people to believe again that it was still possible for them to be accepted as true Americans. It was a confounding event. From inside the community, it felt surreal—as if something had happened that was beyond comprehension. Anyone who dared to imagine the USA electing a black president —other than in Hollywood fiction, would have hardly dreamed it could happen. Black voters didn’t take Obama’s candidacy seriously until he won the Democratic primary in Iowa, a state with a black population of just over 9%. A miracle might be in the works if white people were supporting Obama. That was the beginning of a journey down an untraveled road. Where would it lead, we wondered? So now, at the close of the President’s time in office, we have answers. We have all been treated to a uniquely American civics lesson. We know now, after Barack and Michelle have occupied the White House with their precious family, that not even the best and brightest, nor the most civil and dignified, are accepted. Though they have symbolized the best of black America, and despite their Ivy League degrees, they have taken onto themselves the indignities, the insults, and the attempted humiliation that was really aimed at the race as a whole. This may explain why the bond the Obamas evidently enjoy with the black community has less to do with what the Obama Administration achieved in terms of peace and prosperity for the nation and the world, and more to do with how they have “represented” while in the White House. Obama’s African American critics, therefore, may be missing the point when they focus on the ills that persist

among poor black people despite anything Obama has done while in office. Black baby boomers, in particular, defend the president’s legacy because they believe it is too significant to risk undermining. It is a strong affirmation of the civic hope and confidence that America is certainly moving toward justice, however far off it may be. Pride in the First Family is palpable. The Obamas have become a symbol of assurance that black people, after all, are as much an integral part of America as any other group. MLK and Barack Obama occupy different places in history, with different missions. However, the reverence with which each is held among black people is rooted in the hope that America is capable of perfecting itself. And if Dr. King is right in saying “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” Barack Obama has become an icon of the struggle toward national perfection. He will be remembered not so much for his specific accomplishments during his time in office; not for the fact that he transformed the aims and functions of government; but for holding the office at all—an office (the most powerful in the world) that was so clearly reserved for white men. African Americans doggedly hold out hope against hope that the America dream can be theirs too, as do the words of Langston Hughes, “America was never America to me, And yet I swear this oath— America will be!” In the days ahead, though, this resolve will be tested, given the troubling turn the nation is taking as we face the dawn of the post-Obama years. If the lot of poor people and other marginalized groups turns out to be as bad as is feared, Dr. King’s latter-day conclusions about the protracted, systemic flaws that continue to infect the USA will certainly gain renewed currency.

Rev. Dr. M William Howard is the Pastor Emeritus of Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, NJ.

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc. Farewell to President Barack Obama! We Thank You & Your Family For 8 Years of Service & Commitment to the USA! West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc. (WHGA), a community based development corporation was established in 1971 to revitalize the under- invested West and Central Harlem communities. Throughout the years WHGA has experienced substantial economic growth and has expanded its supportive and social service programs to residents facing displacement. WHGA's core efforts include affordable housing development and preservation as well as asset building initiatives such as homeownership and small business development.

Executive Director: Donald C. Notice

1652 Amsterdam Avenue New York, NY 10031 Telephone: (212) 862-1399 Fax: (212) 862-3281


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“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

― The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

NBTS celebrates the Presidency of Barack Obama, with whom we share a deep commitment to justice for all.

1963 March on Washington • 2009 Inauguration

Master of Divinity, Master of Arts, Doctor of Ministry, Certificate Programs

Transformative. Practical. Faithful. Graduate Theological Education since 1784 NJ Campus | 35 Seminary Place | New Brunswick, NJ 08901 | 732-247-5241 NY Campus | St. John’s University – St. John Hall, Room B36 8000 Utopia Parkway | Jamaica, NY 11439 | 718-990-6000 | FB.ME/1784NBTS | @NBTS1784

Tears came to my eyes as I kneeled down before the paternal grandmother of the leader of the free world. She touched my head and gave me a grandmotherly blessing and hug.



wice in the last three years (2014 and 2016), I have had the great honor, opportunity, pleasure, and privilege of meeting Mother Dr. Sarah Obama, the paternal step-grandmother of the President of the United States of America, the Hon. Barack Hussein Obama. The President calls her “Granny Sarah.” What I did not know is that she would “adopt” me as one of her American grandsons, thus in effect, making me a distant first cousin of POTUS (President of the United States).. BIG SMILE. At 93 years-young, Mother Dr. Sarah Obama is the picture of health (mentally, physically, and spiritually). She has been honored and recognized for her humanitarian efforts by organizations around the world. In 2014, she was recognized by the United Nations for her work with children, especially for empowering girls and women. I met her for the first time in March of 2014 on a trip to visit a nursery/primary school our church sponsors in Kisumu, Kenya, an hour’s plane ride northwest of Nairobi. The second even more majestic and meaningful meeting occurred on March 10, 2016. It was on this trip I mustered up the “audacity of hope” to ask her if I could be one of her grandsons. To my great surprise and elation, she responded with a smile, an embrace and in her native Luo dialect... said “YES!” I nearly jumped out of my skin at her response. Tears came to my eyes as I kneeled down before the paternal grandmother of the leader of the free world. She touched my head and gave me a grandmotherly blessing and hug. I was particularly emotional because in September of 2015, my maternal grandmother transitioned from earthly life to eternal life, and to be embraced by President Obama’s grand80

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mother was a major aspect of my acceptance of and healing from Grandmama Opal’s passing. From my birth on November 11, 1968, the late Opal Garlington Armstrong was the singular most important woman in my life. Her eldest daughter, Genice— my mother, became pregnant with me in South Central Los Angeles in 1968 when she was 14-years-old. She died at the age of 45 of a crack-heroin overdose. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was to eulogize my mother. At the time, I was attending Princeton Theological Seminary to lead others through their times of bereavement and grief. It is different when the caregiver is now the one in need of care! My mom was a strong and resilient woman whose life was simply too short. My grandmother’s celebration of life service was altogether different. At 84 years of age, she died with the certainty of her faith and understanding that she would have ‘life’ on the other side of physical death. Like her daughter, she, too, graduated from the university of life with a Ph.D. She, too, was a teenage mother. In the 1950s, she migrated to Southern California with my late grandfather from a small town in Arkansas just outside of Little Rock. She would eventually bring six children into this world. As her first grandchild, I had the privilege of having Grandmama Opal saturate me with love and prayer. Although she never officially adopted me, she helped raise me from my birth until I was about five years old. She was my prayer warrior who prayed for me daily as I bounced back and forth between my mother’s dwellings and Grandmama’s home. If GOD answers, “knee-mail,” my grandmother certainly had GOD’s attention. Continued on page 97

Shiloh Baptist Church Reverend Dr. Darrell L. Armstrong, Pastor “The Church of the Open Door… Where the Word of God is Preached

With the Power of the Holy Spirit!”

Thank You to Our Forever First Family President Barack Obama First Lady Michelle Obama Malia and Sasha

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Deacon Francis A. Thomas Chair † Deacon Ministry

Trustee Charles L. Davis, II Chair † Trustee Ministry

Deaconess Patricia A. Hood Chair † Deaconess Ministry

Brother Irwin Morrisey Chair † Finance Ministry

Trustee Aide Addie Daniels Lane Chair † Trustee Aide Ministry

Daily Bible Studies | Sunday Worship Services at 8 a.m. & 11 a.m. 340 Rev. S. Howard Woodson, Jr. Way, Trenton, New Jersey Tel: 609.695.2448 | Website: Office of the Pastor: Tel: 609.695.5700 | Email:

The Privilege of a Lifetime! THE CONVENTION I was there, for that moment in history. I remember, so well, the excitement in Denver at the 2008 Democratic Convention when the first African American accepted the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States. The black clergy had met a few days earlier, and those who had supported Hillary Clinton, sat with the faith advisors for Barack Obama, and we became ONE in the SPIRIT. This was a moment in time, an Ecclesiastical Kairos moment, which demanded that we would walk together, stalk together, pray together, and Stay as ONE! ELECTION DAY On the night of November 4, 2008, Election Day, I was back home in Harlem when the roar erupted and folks were dancing in the streets from the Apollo Theater to as far as the eye could see and the ear could hear. Barack Obama would be the President of the United States of America. OMG! This was what and who we had been waiting for: strong, black, family intact, brilliant, resilient, formidable and filled with faith. THE PHONE CALLS On a phone call from the National African American clergy advisory team, I was asked to deliver one of the readings/prayers for the President on his first day in office. I leapt with joy— actually cried like a baby is more accurately descriptive.

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By Suzan Johnson Cook Former United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom

INAUGURATION DAY With the coveted purple, gold, or orange passes, we rushed, trying to be as orderly as possible, but knowing that unless we moved strategically and quickly we would miss the moment. We were held back for a few minutes just as we were about to enter the area for our purple-ticket pass holders, and his motorcade went by. We caught a glimpse of OUR President. Cheering, tearing, we were standing out in the cold, with pleasure and baited breath, for hours as he took the oath of office on the steps that had been built with the hands of our slave ancestors. Every moment was a “WOW!” “Thank you Jesus,” “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” “We’ve come this far by faith,” moment. Anyone we were near hugged us, and we hugged them. I was so glad to be sharing the moment with the three men in my life, my family: two African American young men and one African American dad, witnessing an African American family getting ready to occupy the White House. Our ancestors, who could neither see nor imagine this day, were there with us, in SPIRIT, as thousands upon thousands flew in by plane, rode in by train, bus, car service, walked in through tunnels, stood out on the mall, sat near the stage, or stayed glued to the TV. No one moved. Everyone around me was crying. And then, collectively, blacks, whites, Asians, Native Americans, and Latinos all around me joined together and began to recite the Lord’s prayer. Heaven was on earth, and earth was touching heaven. This was a preordained,

determined, pre-anointed, Divinely appointed and assigned moment in history. GOD WAS UP TO SOMETHING Yes, he had run a great campaign, but there was something more happening. God was kissing us and offering heavenly reparations, for ALL the years of racism, neglect, rapes, rudeness, insensitivity, and inhumanity that we, as a people, had experienced. THE WORSHIP SERVICE ON HIS FIRST DAY IN OFFICE At the cathedral we robed and lined up, awaiting our instructions for rehearsal, when Joshua DuBois asked if we would mind taking a photo. We, of course, were thrilled to have been asked, and one by one, all the program participants not only had the privilege of meeting and posing with President and First Lady Michelle, we were also joined by the Bidens, and then later, in the sanctuary, entered the Clintons. The service was the highlight of my life. I knew the Clintons personally, but I made eye contact with the First Lady as soon as she sat down. I KNEW everything was going to be alright—that America had, at its helm, the right man, with the right woman and team for the job. THE OTHER PHONE CALL There’s so much to try to capsulize, but after an Inaugural Ball and festivities ended, it was time to get to work. I was absolutely FLOORED to have received the phone call and nomination by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, inviting me to join the Obama administration. I was appointed by President Barack H. Obama to be the first African American and first woman to serve as the United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. I would represent our President in more than 25 nations as his lead diplomat, attend and speak at the United Nations General Assembly as the President’s Ambassador. I would be representing my parents: the late Wilbert T. and Dorothy C. Johnson, who started in the deep South as sharecroppers, but were able to escape the cruel fields and build wealth in America through their family business, which still is the longest running black-owned business in the Bronx, New York. I, their daughter, the descendant of those who had to use an OUT HOUSE, now could walk in the front door where a mighty man, President Barack Obama, lives in the White House.

President Barack Obama greets Dr. Suzan Cook during a photo line with Vice President Joe Biden in the Blue Room prior to the Easter Prayer Breakfast in the State Dining Room of the White House, March 30, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

A PRIVILEGE I never forgot, each day, to thank God for my blessings. But each day I was in this country, I walked past the White House and offered a prayer for the entire Obama family by 1 name. I liken my commitment to that of Aaron or the 2 Hurs and was determined to do such a good job in my role that it would hold him up as he led our nation. Systemic racism is deep, and deeply entrenched in all of our systems, even government. And I heard and experienced some things aimed at him, but received by whoever were his appointees, from the Senate confirmation hearings all the way through my tenure. But I would not waver, nor sleep on my assignment. For this was OUR President. What a privilege. What a Mighty God we serve. Thank you, awesome God, for the privilege to stand with BLACK ROYALTY, and to serve our nation during his administration. May God Bless America! 1

And Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses … (Exodus 4:30) 2

History of Indo-Pak War of 1965. Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed (ret). ISBN 969-8693-01-7 Winter 2017 The Positive Community


"Change if we we wait wait "Change will will not not come come if "Change will notnot come if we wait for other person some "Change will come ifor we wait for some some other some "Change will notperson come iforwe wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've for some other person or some other time.other We are the ones we've for some person or some other time. WeWe areare thethe ones we've been waiting for. We are the other time. we've been waiting for. Weones are the other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the the change that we seek." been waiting for. We are change that weWe seek." been waiting for. are the change that we seek." -- Barack Obama change that we seek." Barack Obama change we seek." - Barackthat Obama - Barack Obama - Barack Obama Wishing Fond Farewell

Wishing Fond Farewell Wishing Fond Farewell to Wishing President Barack Obama Fond Farewell President Barack Obama to to President WishingBarack Fond Obama Farewell as we continue to for Barack Obama asPresident we continue to fight fight for asto continue to fight for towe President Barack Obama progress as we continue toequity. fight for progress and equity. progress andand equity. as we continue to fight for progress and equity. progress and equity.


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UNITED MISSIONARY BAPTIST ASSOCIATION Rev. Dr. Carl L. Washington, Jr., Moderator Rev. Dr. Anthony Lowe 1st Vice Moderator

Rev. Dr. Renee F. Washington-Gardner 2nd Vice Moderator

THE UNITED MISSIONARY BAPTIST ASSOCIATION OFFICERS, PASTORS & CHURCHES Rev. Shepherd Lee Recording Secretary Rev. Geraldine Harris Assistant Recording Secretary Rev. Wayne Williams Financial Secretary Rev. Patricia A. Morris Assistant Financial Secretary Rev. Dr. Darren M. Morton Corresponding Secretary Rev. Darryl G. Ware Assistant Corresponding Secretary Rev. Keith A. Bolden, Sr. Treasurer Rev. Jeffrey Crenshaw Assistant Treasurer Rev. Dr. Sean P. Gardner, Sr. Auditor Rev. Kevin Quarles Chief of Staff Rev. Torrence Robinson Program Chair Rev. Jeffrey Crenshaw Special Assistant to the Moderator



Moderator UMBA HEADQUARTERS: New Mt. Zion Baptist Church l 171 West 140th Street l New York, New York 10030 Office: 212-283-0788 l Fax: 212-283-9069

The Positive Community Special Section

Barack Obama: A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017

L–R: Geoffrey S. Perselay, Esq., Integrity House Board of Trustees chair; Ronald K. Andrews, Integrity House Trustee; President Barack Obama; John A. Brennan, MD, former CEO; and Darrell K. Terry, Sr., MHA, MPH, FACHE, president and chief executive officer, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey

President Obama At Integrity House


n November 2015, President Barack Obama visited Newark’s Integrity House, a non-profit substance abuse treatment facility, as part of his campaign to raise awareness about national criminal justice reform. He was joined by members of the board of trustees including

former president and CEO of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey Dr. John A. Brennan; and Darrell K. Terry, Sr., MPH, MHA, MPH, FACHE, current president and CEO of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

To President Barack H. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama: “


istory will record this as one of the most amazing and well-lit periods of our time. The historical presidency of you being the Honorable President lifted us on every level. We owe a great debt of thanks to our ancestors who fought so hard for our first African-American President of The United States of America. We bless you President Obama and your family as you move into public life. I am glad we were part of this historical moment.” Bishop Donald Hilliard, Pastor Phyllis Hilliard and the Cathedral International Family

Winter 2017 The Positive Community



Celebrates the Historic United States Presidency of

Barack Hussein Obama Term: 2008 to 2016

Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis Chairman

Malcolm A. Punter President & CEO



HCCI 256 W. 153RD ST. NEW YORK, NY 10039 HCCI.ORG • 212-281-4887


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The United Missionary Baptist The United Missionary Baptist The Missionary Baptist The United Baptist The United Missionary Baptist Convention of New Jersey Convention New Jersey of New Jersey Convention Convention of New Baptist Jersey The United Missionary Salutes Salutes Salutes Convention of New Jersey Salutes Salutes

PresidentBarack BarackObama Obamafor for888Years Yearsof Exemplary Leadership, President Barack Obama for Years ofofExemplary Leadership, President Exemplary Leadership, President Barack for8 8Years Years of Exemplary Leadership, President Barack Obama Obama for of Exemplary Leadership, Vision Servanthood, President the UnitedStates States America. Vision Servanthood, asasPresident President ofof the of America. President Barack Obama for 8 Years ofUnited Exemplary Leadership, Vision &&&Servanthood, as of the United States ofof America. Vision &and as President of United States of continued America. Vision &Servanthood, Servanthood, as President of thethe United States ofGods America. We loveand appreciateall allthat thatyou youhave have done and pray Gods continued We love appreciate all that you have done and pray Vision &and Servanthood, as President of done the United States of continued America. We love appreciate and pray Gods love andappreciate appreciate all that you have done and pray Gods continued WeWe love and all that you have done and pray Gods continued blessings uponyou you and your family inyour your future endeavors. blessings upon you and your family in future endeavors. blessings upon and your family in your future endeavors. We love and appreciate all that you have done and pray Gods continued blessingsupon uponyou you and in in your future endeavors. blessings andyour yourfamily family your future endeavors. blessings upon you and your family in your future endeavors.

Convention Convention Headquarters ConventionHeadquarters Headquarters Convention Headquarters 401 Avon Avenue: Newark, NJ 07108 401 Avon Avenue: Newark, NJNJ 07108 401 Avon Avenue: Newark, 07108 401 Avon Avenue: Newark, NJ 07108 Convention Headquarters “EXCITED ABOUT UNITED” “EXCITED ABOUT UNITED” “EXCITED ABOUT UNITED” Convention Headquarters “EXCITED ABOUT UNITED” 401 Avon Avenue: Newark, NJ 07108


Robert L. Curry Rev.Rev. Robert L. Curry Rev. Robert L. Curry

Rev. Robert L. Curry Convention President Convention President Convention President

Convention President Rev. Robert L. Curry Rev. Robert L. Curry Convention President

Convention President

Reflections on Meeting President Obama BY CRAIG WILLIAMS


he “first black” is a construct of the 20th Century that has survived into the new millennium evidencing the ongoing journey of black America from bondage to the highest seat of leadership. Reflecting on my personal experiences with President Obama as his second term in office wound down brought many thoughts and emotions to the surface. I, like many African Americans, swelled with pride as I witnessed his improbable rise from standout junior senator to inevitable presidential victor in 2008. I wouldn’t say that I supported him blindly on the basis of some tribal loyalty, but the prospect of bearing witness to the first black presidency was certainly motivation for me to engage in the political process in a way that I hadn’t until his run. I am a writer and my experience watching and supporting Obama’s candidacy occurred concurrently with the experience of writing and publishing my debut novel, The Olympian: An American Triumph. The parallel that emerged between him and my subject, Dr. John Baxter Taylor, Jr., was profound and inspired me to anticipate his success when many still doubted Obama’s chances. Dr. Taylor was the first-black Olympic gold medalist. His journey as the son of freed slaves through an Ivy League education, then on to personal achievements of an academic, professional, and athletic nature seemed to foreshadow what I was witnessing unfold in American politics. It was in 2010, as Obama was campaigning in support of local politicians in the Philadelphia area, that I first made his acquaintance. I had published my book only several weeks prior and was eager to give him a copy with the hope of communicating my sense of the cyclical nature of history. My anticipation was tremendous. Obama had emerged as someone I admired greatly and contemplating what to say and how to say it generated substantial thought. I was among a relatively small group of sponsors who were summoned to a separate room to meet him at a fundraiser. What transpired as he made his way through the room was at once surprising and refreshing; he was warm, engaging, and down-to-earth —far beyond my

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expectations. He noticed the book under my arm and asked, “What’cha got there?” Immediately all of my prepared remarks went out the window and a brief, but impactful, conversation unfolded that I greatly appreciated. He confided that in pondering the first black Olympic gold medalist “. . . many people would think that was Jesse Owens.” I agreed. He thanked me for the book and as he moved on to the next person I was impressed that I managed to teach perhaps the smartest person I’d ever met something. I received a letter a few months later thanking me again for the gift with words of encouragement to “keep up the good work.” I sincerely appreciated the personal touch recognizing that I was one of thousands of people with whom he had similar exchanges. I was privileged to meet the President once more during his re-election bid. I was pleasantly surprised—he remembered me! I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to witness and participate in his historic achievement and contribution to our country. Aside from the special and personal nature of the honor, what his presidency has truly meant to me is that for the first time I’ve felt inclusion in those words “our country,” fully and completely. His presidency has had an impact on America that history will appreciate more deeply as time passes and I thank him for it. Craig Williams is an author and entrepreneur, and is president of Pride Enterprises, Inc.

Shiloh Baptist Church A Place of Peace - Where Jesus is Lord and People are Loved!”

Shiloh Baptist Church Shiloh Baptist Church Shiloh Baptist Church officers and Shiloh Baptist Church Shiloh Baptist Church Shiloh Baptist Church Shiloh Baptist Church Place of -Peace - Where Jesus is Lord andPeople People are Loved!” “A Place of Peace - Where Jesus is Lord and are Loved!” ace of“APeace Where Jesus is Lord and People Love the entire congregation offerare sincere “A “A Place of Peace Where Jesus is Lord and People are Loved!” “APlace Placeof ofPeace Peace---Where WhereJesus Jesusis isLord Lordand andPeople Peopleare areLoved!” Loved!”

congratulations to President Shiloh Church officers and ShilohBaptist Baptist Church officers and Shiloh Baptist Church and Barack H. Obama, First Lady, Shiloh Baptist Church officers and Shiloh Baptist Churchofficers officers and the entire congregation offer sincere the entire congregation offer sincere the entire congregation sincere the entire congregation offer sincere thecongratulations entire congregation offeroffer sincere Michelle Robinson Obama, and the off Shiloh Baptist Church to President congratulations to President congratulations to President congratulations to President congratulations to President H. Obama, First Lady, entireBarack Obama administration for 8 Barack H. Obama, First Lady, Barack H.H. Obama, First Lady, the entire congregation of Barack Obama, First Lady, Barack H. Obama, First Lady, Michelle Robinson Obama, and the Michelle Robinson Obama, and the years of outstanding leadership of Michelle Robinson Obama, and the Michelle Robinson Obama, and the Michelle Robinson Obama, and the entire Obama administration for 8 entire Obama administration for 8 congratulations entire Obama administration for 8 to Pre entire Obama administration for 8 these United States of America. entire administration years of outstanding leadership years of Obama outstanding leadership of of for 8

Barack H. Obama, Firs these stars Unitedcontinue States of America. MayMay your to shineObam Shiloh Baptist Church Shiloh Baptist Church Michelle Robinson Fourth Street, Plainfield, New Jersey 07060 Shiloh Baptist Church your stars continue to shine Shiloh Baptist Church May your stars continue to shine 515 West Fourth Street, Plainfield, New Jersey 07060 May your stars continue to shine 515 West Fourth Street, Plainfield, New Jersey 07060 May your stars continue to shine 515 West Fourth Street, Plainfield, New 07060 brightly and may you continue )754-3353 (office) (908)754-9152 (fax) 515(908)754-3353 West Fourth Street, Plainfield, New Jersey Jersey 07060 Shiloh Baptist Church brightly and may you continue (office) (908)754-9152 (fax) brightly and may you continue (908)754-3353 (office) (908)754-9152 (fax) brightly and may you continue (908)754-3353 (office) (908)754-9152 (fax) entire Obama administra May your stars continue to shine brightly and may you continue (908)754-3353 (office) (908)754-9152 (fax) 515 West Fourth Street, Plainfield, New Jersey 07060 to grow influence and stature to grow inin influence and stature to grow in influence and stature to grow in influence and stature to grow in influence and stature Serving the Plainfield Community for over 100 brightly andand may you continue (908)754-3353 (office) (908)754-9152 (fax) Serving the Plainfield Community for over 100 years! years! nationally globally! Plainfield Community for over 100 Serving the Community for over nationally and globally! years of outstanding lead Serving the Plainfield Plainfield Community foryears! over 100 100 years! years! nationally and globally! nationally and globally! nationally and globally! to grow in influence and stature The Leadership Team of Shiloh Baptist Church The Team of Shiloh Church Serving the Plainfield Community forBaptist over 100 years! TheLeadership Leadership Team Shiloh Baptist Church Team of ofJames Shiloh Baptist Church these United States of A nationally and you! globally! Chair, Deacon Davis adership TeamThe of Leadership Shiloh Baptist Church Shiloh salutes Chair, Deacon James Davis Chair, Deacon James Davis Shiloh salutes you! Chair, Deacon James Davis Chair, Trustee James Timmons Chair, Trustee James Timmons Chair, James Chair, Trustee James Timmons Shiloh salutes you! TheDeacon Leadership TeamDavis ofThorpe, Shiloh Baptist Church Chair, Trustee James Timmons Rev. Sheila L. Assistant Pastor Rev. Sheila L. Thorpe, Assistant Pastor r Rev. Sheila L. Thorpe, Assistant Pastor rr Rev. Sheila L. Thorpe, Chair, Trustee James Timmons Chair, Deacon James Assistant Davis Pastor Shiloh Baptist Church Shiloh salutes you! r May your stars continue Chair, Assistant Trustee James Timmons v. Sheila L. Thorpe, Pastor rth Street, Plainfield, New Jersey 07060 r Rev. Sheila L. Thorpe, Assistant Pastor r brightly and may you c -3353 (office) (908)754-9152 (fax)Nations” “The Church By United Nations” “The Parish Parish Church By The TheBy United Nations” “The Parish Church The United “The Parish Church By The United Nations” “The Parish Church By The UnitedofNations” Celebrating Over 150 Years Ministry to grow in influence and Church By The United Nations” “The Parish Church By The United Nations” Celebrating Over 150 of Ministry “The Parish Church By The UnitedYears Nations” Celebrating Over 150 Years of Ministry nfield Community forYears overof100 years! nationally and glob Celebrating 150 Ministry Over 150 YearsOver of Ministry Celebrating Over 150 Years of Ministry years of outstanding leadership of years ofUnited outstanding leadership of these States of America. years of outstanding leadership of these United States of America. these United States of America. these United States of America.

Shiloh Baptist Church

“The Parish Church By The United Nations”

rship Team of Shiloh Baptist Celebrating Over 150 Years ofChurch Ministry hair, Deacon James Davis air, Trustee James Timmons heila L. Thorpe, Assistant Pastor

Shiloh salutes y



Rev. Dr. A. Edmonds, Pastor Rev. Rev. Dr. Cornell Cornell A.A. Edmonds, Interim Pastor Dr. Cornell Edmonds, Interim Interim Pastor   Rev. Dr. Cornell A. Edmonds, Interim Pastor Elder Elizabeth Birkby, Clerk of Session Elder Elizabeth ofInterim Session Interim Elder Elizabeth Birkby, Clerk of Session Rev. Rev. Dr. Cornell A.Birkby, Edmonds, Pastor Pastor Dr. Cornell A.Clerk Edmonds, nd Elder Elizabeth Birkby, Clerk of nd Street   Session Pastor   East 42 Street 310 East 42 Rev. Dr. Cornell A. Edmonds, Interim Street 310310 East 42 Elder Elizabeth Birkby, Clerk of Session Elder Elizabeth nd Birkby, Clerk of Session nd

New York, New York 10017 310 East 42 nd Street New York, New York 10017 New York, New York 10017 Elizabeth Birkby, Clerk ofndSession Street 310 A. East 42 Rev.Elder Dr. Cornell Edmonds, Interim Pastor nell A. Edmonds, Interim Pastor 310 East 42 Street (212) 697-3185 New310 York, New York 10017 nd (212) 697-3185 (212) 697-3185 East 42 Street Elder Elizabeth Birkby, Clerk of Session New York, New York 10017 New York, New York 10017 lizabeth Birkby, Clerk of Session (212) 697-3185 310 East 42ndYork Street10017 New York, New (212) 697-3185 (212) 697-3185 310 East 42nd Street New York, New York 10017 (212) 697-3185 Congratulations to President Barack Obama for eight (212) 697-3185 ew York, New York 10017

Congratulations to President Obama for Congratulations President Barack Obama forineight eight of positive and historicBarack leadership ushering a (212)years 697-3185 Congratulations to President Barack Obama for eight Congratulations to President Barack Obama for eight blessed time of recovery, hope, and change. years of positive and historic leadership ushering in years Congratulations of positive and historic leadership ushering in aafor eight to President Barack Congratulations to Barack Obama for eight Congratulations toPresident President Barack Obama for Obama eight years of positive and historic leadership ushering in years of positive and historic leadership ushering in a a blessed time of recovery, hope, change. blessed time of recovery, hope, and and change.   years ofof positive and historic leadership ushering in  a years positive and historic leadership ushering in a years of positive and historic leadership ushering   blessed time of recovery, hope, and change.   in a blessed time of recovery, hope, and change.   to Presidentblessed Barack Obama for eight time of recovery, hope, and change.   blessed time of recovery, hope, and change.   blessed time of recovery, hope, and change.  

  and historic leadership ushering in a       of   recovery, hope, and change.

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


Michelle Obama: She Will Continue to Walk in Beauty BY R.L. WITTER


omehow I doubt that Lord Byron was dreaming of a woman like First Lady Michelle Obama when he penned She Walks in Beauty in 1814. Sure, he may have admired a woman of cocoa hue with dazzling eyes and a figure that put Venus de Milo to shame, more reminiscent of today’s Venus Williams than the famed marble statue.

But I can’t fathom Lord Byron or any white man of his time imagining a black woman embodying the beauty, grace, and eloquence he lauds in his most famous piece. However, the words seem to have been written expressly for our fabulous Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama. She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes; Thus mellowed to that tender light Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

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One shade the more, one ray the less, Had half impaired the nameless grace Which waves in every raven tress, Or softly lightens o’er her face; Where thoughts serenely sweet express, How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow, But tell of days in goodness spent, A mind at peace with all below, A heart whose love is innocent! Not since Jacqueline Kennedy has the world stood up and taken such notice of an American First Lady. The youngest woman to hold the title in more than 50 years, Michelle Obama broke the mold of the First Lady of the United States of America. While often noted for her style, elegance, and flair for fashion, Mrs. Obama is the second First Lady (Hillary Clinton being the first) to hold a post-graduate degree, and the only First Lady of the 44 preceding her and the one following, to have earned two Ivy League degrees (from Princeton and Harvard, respectively). An exquisite blend of intellectual, fashion icon, fitness advocate, and First Mom, Obama overcame early and ongoing criticisms to become one of the most beloved First Ladies in history. This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering the road she traveled and the obstacles she overcame to reach the White House with her husband. Where most Presidents and First Ladies have come from a background of wealth and privilege, Mrs. Obama was raised by blue collar parents in a Southside Chicago bungalow home. As if financial challenges weren’t enough, she also faced the pain and indignity of racism and discrimination —challenges no other First Lady has faced, let alone surmounted. Despite her husband having been elected the first African-American President of the United States of America, racial strife and overt disrespect sought to hamper her efforts and dampen her spirits. When she posed in a sleeveless dress, showcasing beautifully sculpt-

ed arms that touted her commitment to physical fitness and healthy eating, she was met with criticism and disdain. To her detractors it was considered unseemly for the President’s wife to have shown so much skin; her admirers were enamored with both her tasteful boldness and those perfect biceps. Mrs. Obama or “FLOTUS” (First Lady of the United States) as she was often called, went on to become nothing short of a fashion icon, making fashion superstars of the mostly young, racially diverse, up-and-coming designers whose clothes she decided to wear. She also brought some of her own down-to-earth style to the White House as she wore reasonably-priced and massproduced pieces from accessible brands such as J. Crew and White House/Black Market. FLOTUS could wear a $150 dress and not only make it sell out in mere minutes, but make it look like a million dollars. Upon her debut of a new hairstyle with bangs, magazines touted bangs as the hottest look of the season. And when FLOTUS decide to grow out her bangs, all of a sudden the style was considered passé. While some First Ladies were content to choose china patterns and epitomize the “hostess with the mostest” at State dinners and galas, Mrs. Obama aspired to do more, and she succeeded. During her first term, she started her Let’s Move campaign to get American children to exercise and decrease the incidence of childhood obesity, which had risen to epidemic proportions. She planted a vegetable garden at the White House and invited schools to bring children to help maintain and harvest the garden while learning about nutrition and continued on next page

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


MICHELLE OBAMA continued from previous page

healthy food choices. She then brought her better food choices to American schools to help kids eat more nutritious meals for both breakfast and lunch. During the same time period, FLOTUS also partnered with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and Second Lady of the United States, to support military families under the banner of Joining Forces. While politicians and pundits talked about American veterans and the challenges they and their families faced, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden worked tirelessly to improve their lives through initiatives to get returning veterans priority job placement, educational opportunities, and wellness access with a focus on PTSD and the stress military family members face both during deployments and upon soldiers’ return. Another project close to Mrs. Obama’s heart was Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative aimed at helping adolescent girls attain a quality education that empowers them to reach their full potential. This program targeted and inspired women and girls both domestically and around the world to strive for education and aim for success. In partnering with various programs and people, Michelle Obama opened the White House to hundreds of thousands of everyday people who likely never imagined themselves visiting the White House, let alone meeting the President and/or First Lady. Millions of little brown girls stood in awe as for the first time in their

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lives, someone who looked like them and to whom they could genuinely relate, held the prestigious title of First Lady, but remained grounded enough to spit a few bars in an ode to higher education, beat Ellen DeGeneres in a push-up contest, best Jimmy Fallon in a fitness competition, sing a Beyoncé song and rap with Missy Elliot on Carpool Karaoke, and visit military bases and schools around the country to lift spirits and thank Americans for their service, triumphs, and efforts. There was so much more that Michelle Obama brought to both the White House and the Office of the First Lady. Beyond her memorable looks and inspirational, unforgettable speeches, Mrs. Obama embodied an attitude of fun when possible and business when necessary. The care and grace with which she raised two lovely daughters in the world’s largest fishbowl are nothing short of both legendary and phenomenal. As she leaves the White House and moves on to the next phase of her already incredible life, we’ll always remember Michelle Obama as our First Lady. And we’ll cherish and hopefully embody the sage wisdom she gave us during the stressful and often disheartening days of the 2016 presidential election: “When they go low, we go high.” Keep rising to the highest levels of intellectualism, integrity, and elegance, FLOTUS. Your ascension is at once miraculous, inspiring, spectacular, and breathtaking.


Thank You President Barack Obama for

Eight Years of

Faithful Leadership

Community Baptist Church of Englewood 224 First Street Englewood, NJ 07631 Phone: 201-568-6369 Fax: 201-568-3512 Reverend Dr. Lester W. Taylor, Jr., Senior Pastor

& Salute, Thank and Appreciate The Legacy of President Barack Obama & The Nation's First Family

As They Complete Their Historic Eight Years of Service, Dignity, Honor Pride & Inspiration


Continued from page 80 Because of the physical and mental abuse perpetrated upon us by my mother’s male companion, my two-year-old brother and I were separated and placed in the custody of the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. We never again lived together or with our mother, nor did we ever experience fraternal bonding with two brothers fathered by our abuser. Immediately when I laid eyes on Mother Dr. Sarah Obama, my thoughts flashed back to Grandmama Opal and her strength of character to overcome adversity, tragedy, and trauma and still produce family lineage and legacy. I was staring at the East African incarnation of my mom’s mom. Mother Dr. Sarah Obama is the founder of the Mother Sarah Obama Foundation and I have pledged my commitment to discover institutional resources for her in America and throughout the world, to aid her in improving physical and mental health outcomes for children in Central Kenya, especially girls. Mother Sarah Obama is indeed a role model for young girls and women in East Africa and around the world. So there is now an eternal link between South Central Los Angeles on the West Coast of America and Alego, Kenya on the East Coast of Africa. Although my late grandmother never knew my adopted grandmother, I believe that one day they will meet in heaven!

Newark School of Theology

L-R: Rev. Nicholas A. Johnson, Rev. Douglas Bendall, and Rev. Deacon Peter Sabune


n Thursday, December 15, 2016, Newark School of Theology (NST) hosted a Christmas program at Trinity and St. Phillips Cathedral in Newark. Rev. Douglas Bendall, PhD, NST’s founder and president, delivered keynote remarks about the real meaning of Christmas.

420 West 145th Street, New York, New York 10031

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


Top Five Barack Obama Basketball Moments

By Ryan Anderson


e all know that Barack Obama loves basketball. The 44th President of the United States has said he fell in love with the game at the age of 10. Obama won a high school state championship as a guard while playing for Punahou School in Hawaii in 1979. He has been known to fill out March Madness brackets, play a few pickup games, and even talk trash to NBA superstars on the court. Here is the countdown of my top Barack Obama Basketball moments. Go to to see the videos


Obama Hits a Three Pointer on His Visit with Troops

While running his Presidential Campaign in 2008 Senator Obama visited troops in a gym located in Kuwait. As he shook the troops’ hands and thanked them for their service, Obama thought it’d be a good idea to get a few shots up. Loosening up, the U.S. Senator from Illinois, warned the crowd that he might not hit his first shot but would make one eventually. The loosely buttoned polo shirt and khaki-appareled future president wound up and let his shot rip from what looked to be more than 20 feet and drained the three-point attempt. The charm and charismatic vibe seemed to be a preview of what would be one of the smoothest presidents this nation has ever seen.


The Infamous “Looks Like a Foul but We’ll Keep Going” Game

If you have never seen our President lace ‘em up, look no further than this rare footage of Senator Obama dominating his opponents in a Kokomo, IN pickup game in 2008. He takes the court in his white kicks and black sweatpants like a true old school baller and puts up a stat sheet stuffing game against fellow pickup players. In one play down the stretch, Obama takes it to the rack while losing the ball without stoppage in play after what looks to be clear contact, and hits an up and under layup. “Looks like a foul but we’ll keep going” can be heard by the play by play announcer in the youtube upload during the play. Senator Obama proceeded to hit the game-winning two-point shot and led his team to a 15-5 victory. Obama finished with 6 baskets along with numerous assists and rebounds to complete an all-around performance.


Obama’s Game of Horse with Clark Kellogg at the White House

In the season of miracles, March Madness was alive in the White House. CBS’ Clark Kellogg paid President Obama a visit to talk college basketball while playing a little game of H-O-R-S-E or P-O-T-U-S in this case. The President came out struggling. However, the slow start did not slow down trash talking from POTUS. As the two exchanged college basketball picks, work ethics, and favorite moments, POTUS caught fire. Hitting numerous shots to seal the deal, the President’s trash talk never seemed to cease. Obama credited Kellogg for letting up and missing a few shots to generously let him win the game. “I guarantee you, Clark missed a couple of those shots on purpose,”

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Obama said, adding, “But it was only because he didn’t know that he was going to lose” Obama added. Kellogg clearly underestimated his opponent and failed to realize you can’t give the President that kind of room for a comeback. He’s clearly kicking himself after that one.


President Obama Meets Team USA Basketball in 2012

In the summer of 2012, President Obama met with both the men’s and women’s U.S Olympic Basketball teams. Hugs and daps were exchanged between the President and NBA superstars including Lebron James and Kobe Bryant in the team locker room. Obama even harmlessly made fun of Anthony Davis, who was a rookie at the time he joined Team USA Basketball. He showed extreme confidence in the men’s basketball team and wished them luck as they took off to London to compete for the Gold Medal. The President then paid a similar visit to the women’s team. With the same laid back and playful approach, he shared a basketball story about Vice President Joe Biden’s granddaughter, Maisy Biden with the head coach of the women’s team, Geno Auriemma. He goes on to brag about how great an athlete she is and speaks highly about her work ethic and attitude. He also tells Coach Auriemma to keep an eye out for her and jokingly tells him that he will one day recruit her. He also wished the women’s team the best of luck as their journey to the gold medal began.


For His 49th Birthday, The President Treats Himself to a Pickup Game with the Pros

How cool is it to become President of the United States of America and have all your friends over for a game of basketball? Well, President Barack Husein Obama did that in 2010 for his 49th birthday. At Fort McNair, in Washington DC, he played the most epic game in presidential pickup basketball history. Invited guests included Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher, LeBron

James, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Bill Russell, Etan Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Maya Moore, and David West. Because the media was not allowed to view the game, there is no available video coverage. The game was played before an audience of wounded vets and was said to be a fun atmosphere full of trash talk. Our number one moment in Obama basketball history combined integrity along with gratitude for the wounded soldiers who have fought for the United States, a moment that will be forever cherished by those men and women.

To watch the Obama basketball highlights, go to and enter the following titles in the site’s search box.


Barack Obama drains 3-point jumper on first try in Kuwait


Barack Obama playing Basketball Game. AMAZING FOOTAGE


President Obama Plays HORSE with CBS' Clark Kellogg


President Barack Obama Team USA Basketball meeting with Anthony Davis and Lebron James –- YouTube.flv

Winter 2016 The Positive Community


Celebrating a Great Achievment! The Obama Years: 2009-2017 There Are No Term Limits in Our Hearts

Emmanuel Baptist Church

279 Lafayette Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11238 Phone: 718-622-1107 Fax: 718-622-3343 Email:

Muriel Goode Trufant & Rev. Anthony L. Trufant

President Barack Obama President Barack Obama Obama First Lady Michelle First Lady Michelle Vice President JosephObama Biden Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden Vice President Joseph Biden As we say farewell to the 44th POTUS , FLOTUS and the First Family, we don’t say goodbye because we know that their work is not done. We thank them for serving our country with and Honor. We thank them for two terms of scandal free service. Dignity, Leadership, Integrity As we say farewell to the 44th POTUS , FLOTUS and the First Family, we don’t say goodbye Moreover , we thank them for providing a continued stream of hope, optimism and a vision to because thatStates their with workcountries is not done. We thank themWe for thank servingthem our for country with reconcilewetheknow United around the world. demonstrating Integrityagainst and Honor. thank them for forth two terms of scandal free service. Dignity, and determination massiveWeopposition to put an agenda to advance courageLeadership, freedom liberty and equity forproviding all those that reside instream the United States. Moreover , we thank them for a continued of hope, optimism and a vision to

reconcile the United States with countries around the world. We thank them for demonstrating Lastly, POTUS We thank you for your service and we look forward to working with you in the and determination against massive opposition to put forth an agenda to advance courage second part of your journey to make America the country that we all know it has the potential to be. freedom liberty and equitymany for of allusthose that reside in the United allowed to believe in possibilities again.States. For some , you and the First Your presidency Family represent a dream that they thought would never be realized.

Lastly, POTUS We thank you for your service and we look forward to working with you in the Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder,that President & CEO, JohntoE.make America the country we all know it has the potential to be. second part of your journey The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) Your presidency allowed many of us to believe in possibilities again. For some , you and the First Family represent a dream that they thought would never be realized. John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO, The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ)

Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden On behalf of a grateful nation, the Board of Directors, Members and Staff of AACCNJnation, On behalf of the a grateful Thank you for your the Board of Directors,Leadership Members and and your Sacrifice Staff of the AACCNJ for the past eight years

Thank youJanuary for your 2017 Leadership and your Sacrifice for the past eight years

John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO Hosea Johnson, Chairman of the Board Marcus Dyer, Chairman of the Foundation Board 379 West State Street, Trenton, January 2017 NJ 08618 609-571-1620 John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO The AACCNJ performs an essential role in the economic viability of New Jersey. As Hosea Johnson, Chairman of the Board affirmed in its mission statement, the Chamber seeks to economically empower and sustain African American communities, and businesses with direct outreach programs, Marcusentrepreneurship Dyer, Chairman the Foundation Board thereby facilitating and freeof enterprise activity. The AACCNJ serves as a proactive advocacy group with a 501(c) 3 tax exemption, which is shared by the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

379 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618 609-571-1620

The AACCNJ performs an essential role in the economic viability of New Jersey. As affirmed in its mission statement, the Chamber seeks to economically empower and sustain African American and businesses with direct outreach programs, Wintercommunities, 2017 The Positive Community thereby facilitating entrepreneurship and free enterprise activity. The AACCNJ serves as a proactive advocacy group with a 501(c) 3 tax exemption, which is shared by the National Black Chamber of Commerce.




eporters are known for dreaming of plum assignments, getting stationed at some exotic outpost, running an international bureau, or even catching a one-on-one interview with one of the top world leaders. And if you are really lucky maybe you can get invited to fly with the president on Air Force One. Well, that dream came true for seven fortunate black reporters, including yours truly on July 17, 2009. I was absolutely stunned when I was offered the opportunity, and then I waited on pins and needles hoping nothing would interfere with this once-in-a-lifetime assignment. After the general formalities of checking credentials and clearance at the White House, we waited in the James Brady Press Briefing Room, where Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s press secretary, conducts his sessions. One by one the other reporters arrived, excited to be flying high with Obama. Derek Dingle, the editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise, was the first of the six to greet me as they shared memories of working together in the past. Then Pamela Gentry of arrived with her salad, next was April Ryan of American Urban Radio, and then Roland Martin—who is everywhere on television, including TVOne and CNN— showed up with luggage, possibly indicating he was bound for other parts after the flight to New York and the NAACP centennial convention at the Hilton Hotel. Cynthia Gordy of Essence and Kevin Chappell of Ebony/Jet were the last to arrive and Corey Ealons, Communications Director at the White House, gathered

When Kevin Chappell mentioned disparaging comments by Michael Steele, chair of the Republican National Committee, Obama said, “I think Mr. Steele should focus on the Republican Party.” 104 The Positive Community

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us and read the orders of the day—we had only one question each with no follow-up during our brief interview with the president and we were not to interrupt each other. With that, we were led to vans and spirited out to the base where Air Force One dominated the tarmac. There were some comments among ourselves about which door on the plane we would enter since we were not part of the regular press pool that travels with the president. April Ryan began to spell out things for us since she had flown once before with Obama. “I think we’re going through the front of the plane,” she guessed. She was right, and we marched up the red carpet and into the corridors of the huge 747. Once aboard and secured in our own personal section of the plane, we had some time—almost an hour— before the president arrived, so we decided to tour the massive White House with wings, as one of my colleagues blessed it. “Get your questions together because this is not a long flight,” Ealons instructed. We were told that we had an exclusive roundtable interview with President Obama, and soon we were escorted to his conference room where he was as accommodating as the commodious surroundings.

Obama believed that the main problem confronting small and minority businesses was not so much the lack of capital, despite its critical importance, but the overall dismal shape of the economy. For more than twenty minutes Obama fielded a range of questions. When Kevin Chappell mentioned disparaging comments by Michael Steele, chair of the Republican National Committee, Obama said, “I think Mr. Steele should focus on the Republican Party.” What the president chose to focus on at the moment was entrepreneurship and urban affairs, “and we must particularly target communities most in need.” Equally important to the Obama administration is the issue of healthcare, and he told Cynthia Gordy that “it is critical that we close some of these gaps in healthcare for all Americans, but particularly for blacks and Latinos,” where the incidence of HIV/AIDS is disproportionately high. As the veritable flying White House touched down, Obama elaborated on healthcare reform in response to a query from Pamela Gentry concerning the impact of his plans on African Americans and the single-payer option. “We don’t have a final bill yet,” he began, “and as I’ve said before, there are countries where single-payer plans have worked well, but we have a tradition of an employerbased health care system…if people are happy with their healthcare, we don’t want to change it. But for those who don’t have healthcare because their employer doesn’t offer it, then they have an option,” Obama added. “And we are confident that the bill we produce will provide a level of subsidy that will guarantee affordable healthcare for all Americans.” With the NAACP on his agenda, I wanted to know the extent to which he would deal with race relations, reminding him of a recent comment by Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP’s board. While Obama’s daughters can fly on Air Force One, little black girls in the suburbs of Philadelphia are banned from a swimming pool, Bond observed. “Obviously, this is a reminder that because of my election that racism is no longer an issue in America, and that is not true,” Obama asserted. What needs to be done to eradicate the racial disparity, he continued, promising to address this issue during his speech at the NAACP, was “to improve substandard schools . . . to focus on economic parity, economic development, and access to higher education.”

Derek Dingle keyed his question to the condition of small businesses and to what degree they could expect support from the Obama administration. “First of all,” Obama said, “we are focusing on small businesses already. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has increased its guarantees in terms of lending and it has been much more aggressive in trying to fill the gap as private lending contracted.” He recounted a recent meeting with minority automobile dealers to discuss their plight. “And the SBA is one of the primary tools to make sure those minority dealers are able to get the money they need to operate a show room.” It was a point that was clarified by Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor, who attended the roundtable. Obama believed that the main problem confronting small and minority businesses was not so much the lack of capital, despite its critical importance, but the overall dismal shape of the economy. Foreign policy and Africa were among several issues posed by April Ryan, and the president listened intently. “In terms of foreign policy, that’s one of the reasons I just came back from Ghana,” he stated, “and that was to focus attention on the fact that Africa was not just a side note in our foreign policy, but a central concern of our administration.” The encouragement of economic development and good governance are among some of the key points in providing aid to African nations, Obama stressed, and he mainly reiterated a policy he outlined during his speech before the Ghanaian parliament. Roland Martin had the final question and he touched on the issue of vouchers and education, which the president agreed was the most important issue for the African American community. “If we can close the achievement gap, then a big chunk of the economic inequality is diminished,” Obama noted. “We have got to get our kids up to speed. Now, how do we do that? Better teachers, greater accountability, more resources combined with more reform.” He then invoked his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and applauded his push for more aggressive reforms. We had been on the ground for fifteen minutes and gradually he was surrounded by his aides, beckoning him for departure to the next stop in New Jersey and then onto the NAACP where much of what he shared with us would be revisited with gusto at the Hilton. Herb Boyd is an American journalist, educator, author, and activist. His articles appear regularly in the New York Amsterdam News. He teaches black studies at the City College of New York and the College of New Rochelle. Winter 2017 The Positive Community


Eiďż˝ t Baptist Church of South Orange

Impacting the World

Rev. Dr. Terry Rlcha ady NaDeen Richardson and the entire First Baptist Church of South Orange Would like to thank President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for 8 incredible years of service to our country. Thank you for being the best Commander and Chief and greatest President in American History.


ou guided our nation with strength, grace, and humility. You inspired us to do more to impact our communities. You challenged us to fight for a better future not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors. You prayed with us. You proved that every child with a dream is worthy of living their dream. You consoled us in times of great sorrow. You laughed with us in times of great happiness. You raised us up in the eyes of the world. You restored our nation’s promise to millions who had lost hope.

You were our President. Thank you.


ou guided our nation with strength, grace, and humility. You inspired us to do more to impact our communities. You challenged us to fight for a better future not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors. You prayed with us. You proved that every child with a dream is worthy of living their dream. You consoled us in times of great sorrow. You laughed with us in times of great happiness. You raised us up in the eyes of the world. You restored our nation’s promise to millions who had lost hope.

You were our President. Thank you.

Paid for by Murphy for Governor, One Gateway Center, Suite 1025, Newark, NJ 07102

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


The Positive Community Special Section

Barack Obama: A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017

Dear President Obama: Dear Mr. President: All I have to do and say is that I hope you are reading this and thank you for your service. It would take forever to list all your accomplishments and the things you did for your country. You will forever be known as a great man that served our country. It is hard to believe that your 8 year term is over; I wish it could go on forever. People can probably tell you were going to be a great man from your JD. I can tell it was hard to get that. You are a very hard-working man and I believe you will continue your excellence. You also made history by becoming the FIRST African-American president ever. If somebody was just learning about you, they would be amazed by your work. You are a true peacemaker too. You were the FIRST president to win the Nobel prize, while serving as president. You were the FIRST president to visit a prison. I can go on forever about how many things that were FIRST to do. I guess that is it Mr. President. We all hope you can stay longer. There is one last thing I need to write to you: Don’t worry, I am sure Mr. Donald Trump will do good for our country.

Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Obama: I'm so upset that you aren't going to be the leader of our country any more. Being the first Black president was such an accomplishment and it really inspired me. You have done so much for the United States and I can honestly say that I wish you wouldn't leave the office. You have done so many great things, such as in 2011, when you ordered Special Forces to raid the secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where the terrorist leader was killed and alQaeda documents were discovered. Since January 20, 2009 you’ve been our president. Now this January 20th 2017, you will be our president no more. I think you, as president, were simply amazing. You have had ups and downs but nothing stopped you from doing what you had to do. You have a beautiful family and I wish you guys the best when you get out of office. Now that Donald Trump is becoming president I'm not sure what you're going to be doing. But, no matter what, you are still going to be my president. You are a great representative for this country. I'm so proud of you for everything that you accomplished in 8 years. I appreciate your service as my president. Sincerely, Kailah L. Eighth Grade

Sincerely, Charles B. Fifth grade

Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Obama: I've always loved what you've done for this country for the past 8 years. You've always showed what being a real responsible and respectful leader truly is. You will be dearly missed by all of the people of the United States. While being president, you've changed everything that we didn't expect to happen. For example, health care for elders, and making peace with other presidents to make sure our country is a better and safer place for everyone. I always loved you as a president and an important role model to our country. You inspire other people including me to just be yourself and to put your mind to anything that you want to do in life. Mrs.Obama is a really important role model too. She is important to African American women and influences others about life and why you should believe in yourself and never give up on anything. You've always been the one to keep trying, even when times are tough. And as the First Lady, I think that you've been successful. I will dearly miss her a lot as well as you, President Obama. No matter what and who runs this country, you'll always be my favorite president, leader, and role model. As with Mrs.Obama and your two wonderful and fashionable daughters, I hope when you leave the office that you will always remain helpful to our country whenever we need you. I wish you and the rest of the Obama family a very good farewell and I hope to see you again.

Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Obama: Hello! My name is Zaniyah. I am from Newark NJ. I live in a house with my sisters, my baby sister’s brother and my baby sister’s dad. I am writing this letter to you and your wife to show my appreciation to all that you did. I am writing this letter because I’m going to miss you and your wife. I appreciate you for taking great and well care of our country and we really want to thank you for always achieving and celebrating the United States of America. I just would like to let you know if something ever happens to you, I would always be by your side and praying for you. We want to thank you for your commitment to creating the most open and accessible administration in history. I wish you a good life and luck. Sincerely, Zaniyah 6th Grade

Yours truly, Iyana B Eighth Grade Scholar

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The Positive Community Special Section

Barack Obama: A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017

Dear Obama Family:

Dear Obama and Family: Hello! My name is Toure and I am 7 years old. I am in the second grade at Marion P. Thomas Charter Select Academy. I will miss you and your family. I want you to be safe. I want you to show good sportsmanship to other people. I want you to still be President, but it is not going to happen. I learned a lot from you like being kind to Trump and Hillary Clinton. I like your dog’s names. Your family is nice, they are respectful to us, cool. I want you to have a nice house. My grandma said you will have a nice house and live your life. Thank you for everything, Mr. Obama. I want you to be cool, have fun, and I like how you let us get healthy food. I want you to be cool Mr. President. Have fun. Bye Bye and can you come to the school? Please, please, please can you?

Thank you for rules that you made that kept us safe. Also thank you for keeping us happy when you were the President. You really were a great president and person when you lived in the White House. I hope you get a nice job that you like after you leave the White House, since you will not be our president any more. You did a really great job and I am happy you were our president. From Sanaa Second Grade

Love, Toure Second Grade

Dear Obama Family: I feel sad for you but you were my favorite President. I am writing you this letter so you are not sad when you move out of the White House because now you have to find a new home and a new job. I am sure Mrs. Obama will help you and keep you happy. Have fun with your family when you are all together. Please visit the White House when Donald Trump is there because I feel like you could give him good advice because you did such good job as President. Thank you for everything you have done by keeping our country safe and keeping me and my family safe. I will never forget you. From, Nadia Second Grade

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


The Positive Community Special Section

Barack Obama: A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017

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Barack Obama

A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017

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The Positive Community Special Section

Barack Obama: A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017

President Barack Obama attends the Sandy Hook interfaith vigil (December 16, 2012) President Barack Obama attends the Sandy Hook interfaith vigil (December 16, 2012)

Praying with A.M.E. pastors

Photo: Vincent Bryant


During worship services at Tabernacle Baptist Church, Newark NJ 2008. L-R: Rev. Perry Simmons, Abysinnian BC, Newark NJ; Rev. Ron Christian, (deceased Oct. 2015) Christian Love BC, Irvington, NJ; Senator Barack Obama, Rev. Tracy Brown, Ruth Fellowship, Plainfield, NJ; US Senator Rober t Mendez; Rev. Calvin McKinney, Calvary BC, Garfield, NJ and Re v. Jonathan Whitfield


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The Positive Community Special Section

Barack Obama: A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017

Young Filmmakers A Girl’s Right to An Education Harlem Students Win at White House Student Film Festival

Student Filmmakers highlighted: first person fourth row, Matthew Smart; second person second row, Nathalie Cabrera; third person second row, Nicoles Rosario; fourth person third row, Justin Rivera


Girls’ Right To An Education has won an Honorable Mention at the 3rd Annual White House Student Film Festival. This marks the second trip to the White House in two years for the students of the Digital Media Training Program in Harlem (DMTPH). The afterschool journalism program is conducted at the A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in New York City on the campus of City College. The ceremony was hosted by President Barack Obama at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Sunday, October 2, 2016, and followed by screenings at the South By South Lawn Festival on Monday, October 2, 2016 on the south lawn of the White House. Six student filmmakers who made the 3-minute film traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the festivities. The idea for the story developed out of the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls in 2014 by Boko Haram. In April of 2016, the students filmed a rally at the United Nations Church Center to publicize the fact that, two years later, 218 of the girls were still missing. They were stunned that Boko Haram was against secular education for girls and after learning that, worldwide, 62 million girls are not

in school due to issues stemming from religion, custom, safety, poverty, and lack of adequate bathroom facilities for girls, the students were inspired to examine the issue of girls’ education around the world. The 3-minute film profiles three non-profit groups that are working to better the lives of girls: Pathfinders Justice Initiative, Girl Be Heard and She’s the First. The students hope that the film will promote equal access to education for girls. The theme for this year’s films was, “Imagine the world you want to live in.” First Lady Michelle Obama made a special appeal for films dealing with girls’ education around the world. Winners were selected from 700 entries from K through 12th-grade students from around the country, as well as Peace Corps volunteers from around the world. The West Harlem Development Corporation, Columbia University, and the New York City Department of Education provide funding for the DMTPH. Visit to see the winning film, meet the student filmmakers, and learn more about the Digital Media Training Program in Harlem (DMTPH). Winter 2017 The Positive Community


From the Desk of

From the Desk of

Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10)

Charles B. Rangel, Congressman (Retired) Upper Manhattan, NYC


s a Member of Congress, I have had the tremendous honor to meet with President Obama on multiple occasions. In 2015, I welcomed President Obama to Newark during his national tour on criminal justice reform. That same year, I traveled with the President as part of a congressional delegation to Africa. In 2013, I thanked President Obama in person for helping New Jersey get much-needed Hurricane Sandy aid. And I was privileged to work with the President to designate March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. These are just some of the memories of President Obama that I will always carry with me. In my interactions with the President, I have always been deeply impressed by his composure, his affability, and his deep knowledge of and commitment to the issues affecting working families—the same qualities that have helped make him one of the greatest presidents in history. Over the past eight years, President Obama has consistently displayed coolness under fire, and he has set out an ambitious agenda and a vision that says everyone in America deserves an opportunity to succeed. The President’s resolve has been matched by a record of success.Despite constant efforts by Republicans to derail his presidency, President Obama has secured a number of significant accomplishments that have made our nation much better off. From saving the economy to rescuing the auto industry, President Obama has achieved real progress for the American people. Consider the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to the law, 20 million people have gained health insurance. At the same time, the legislation has helped reduce health disparities by investing in community health centers and providing preventive services at no cost. But an important part of President Obama’s legacy also is about the intangible. He has been a source of inspirational leadership and hope for millions of Americans, including many African Americans who thought they would never live to see an African-American president. In other words, President Obama’s presidency is important symbolically to America and to the entire world. Countless young African-American girls and boys who dream of running for president are now more inspired to achieve that dream. They know—and the world knows—that being African American is no longer a barrier to the presidency. It is my hope that President Obama continues to speak out and to inspire the American people, especially younger generations, after he leaves office. During his tenure, the President has been instrumental in shaping younger Americans to be more inclusive, to be more committed to equality, and to be more dedicated to progressive values and issues, from climate change to economic fairness. As we aspire to achieve progress for all Americans, and as the younger generation takes their seat at the table, we will need the President’s wisdom and moral leadership to help us solve the problems of the 21st century. So I hope he will continue to offer his advice to elected officials, progressive organizations, and Americans across the country on how we can work together to advance our vision and withstand challenges that come our way. President Obama has said that “the path that this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag, and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back.” Well, I would like to thank President Obama for moving us forward. Although America may zig and zag, although it may veer off course, it is thanks to leaders like him that this nation continues to progress and that it remains a source of inspiration for the world.


here is only a handful of leaders that I have come across during my 46 years of service in the United States Congress that I would put in the same category as our 44th President, Barack Obama. I am filled with immense pride as I reflect on how far we have come and what we accomplished in the past eight years, and while there is still a great deal of work to be done, Iam hopeful for the future. My entire career in public service I worked to improve the lives of working families. As such, one of my key legislative achievements is the Affordable Care Act. As its primary sponsor, it was an honor to work with President Obama as well as Leader Pelosi to bring this landmark piece of legislation into law. The President’s unwavering will to push it through Congress has provided health insurance to millions of people who previously were not covered. One watershed moment during our tenure was when I joined President Obama for his historic visit to Cuba in March of 2016. Having been a staunch advocate of lifting the embargo since 1993, I would have never imagined that I would be travelling to Cuba with our own sitting President to meet with President Raul Castro in effort to open new doors between our two nations. I was in Havana when the Presidents announced their plans to chart a new course in our relations and could not be more pleased to see the progress that has been made since. This past summer in our own backyard, we were able to advance cultural exchanges with the Cuban people during the Harlem Meets Havana festival hosted by the Harlem Chamber of Commerce. This is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship. When I marched in Selma led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis in 1965, a world where a black man could be President of the United States seemed unfathomable. Today, young black boys and girls across the country dream of a future when they too can be President. I feel fortunate not just to have witnessed history, but to have served our country during his entire presidency. I ran my final Congressional campaign in 2014 so that I could leave office as President Obama was leaving office. That time has come. I may be retiring from Congress, but I am not retiring from the struggle, and I know Barack Obama is not either. The past eight years have not been without their challenges and we know the next few years will not be easy. However, I know we will keep fighting to keep moving America forward.

Barack Obama, left, welcomes Charles Rangel, center foreground, and other Congressional leaders into the Oval Office, the workplace of the president of the United States in the White House in Washington, D.C., in 2009. Photograph by Pete Souza/The White House

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Patricia A. Morris Funeral Chapels, LLC

Congratulations President Barack H. Obama For your service to humanity ! You may no longer occupy that house, But you are not through marching for justice ! Thank you for being the agent God used To save my life through the Affordable care act ! My family is grateful ! My church is grateful ! The community I serve is grateful ! Your labor was NOT in vain !

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Obama at the National Action Network Convention

National Action Network’s 2011 Convention


ev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network (NAN), enjoyed a very friendly relationship with President Obama over the years. Above are photos of President Obama’s visit to the National Action Network Conference in New York City. National Action Network’s 2014 Convention

Winter 2017 The Positive Community


The Positive Community Special Section

Barack Obama: A Presidential Journey | 2009–2017

Rutgers 250th Anniversary Commencement on May 15, 2016


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“God has used our first family to point America to a more execellent way. Thank you for your love!”

THE UNION BAPTIST TEMPLE Church Family & Pastor Albert Morgan

God’s Mailman

S. Pine & Martin Luther King Jr. Way P.O. Box 683 Bridgeton, New Jersey 856-451-6054


Contemplating the Presidential Legacy of Barack Obama


ebster’s of the

Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary English Language partially defines

“legacy” as: “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor . . .” I am analyzing President Obama’s legacy within the context of this definition. I write this column in December 2016, while President Obama is still in office. Neither God nor a prophet, I cannot predict what that legacy will be. Instead, I put forth what I think Obama’s presidential legacy should be, based mostly on Christian values. Early in the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in chapters 5 through 7 of the Book of Matthew, Jesus Christ stated: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”—Matthew 5:9 (NRSB) I anticipate that peacemaking efforts will be a significant legacy of the Obama presidency. A relatively current example is the Obama administration’s effort to reestablish harmonious relations between the United States and Cuba. Fidel Castro’s communist revolutionary army overthrew Fulgencio Batista’s Cuban dictatorship in 1959, and relations between the United States and Cuba have been strained or worse during most of the approximately half-century since. Recently, however, negotiations involving the Obama administration, the Pope, and the Cuban government have resulted in more peaceful relations between the two countries. This, hopefully, will be a legacy of the Obama presidency. Another significant peacemaking achievement was last year’s signing of the Iran nuclear deal, also called the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” The U.S. has eased economic sanctions on Iran, and, in exchange, Iran has limited and/or dismantled aspects of its nuclear weapons program. According to the New York Times, this agreement has advanced the West’s nonproliferation agenda, and has “prevented the United States from employing military responses.” Hopefully, this agreement will become a legacy. Last month, 76 national security experts signed a report urging President-elect Donald Trump not to scrap the Iran nuclear deal. They argued that the threat of war in the Middle East has been reduced by the agreement.

On the domestic side, all being well, a legacy of the Obama presidency will be the Affordable Care Act, which is intended to make healthcare accessible to Americans of limited means. The following is excerpted from the 25th chapter of Matthew. (I suggest that you read or re-read the entire chapter, for broader context.) “…I was sick and you looked after me…” —Matthew 25:36 (NIV) “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord,…When did we see you sick…and go to visit you?’”—Matthew 25:37-39 (NIV) “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” —Matthew 25:40 (NIV) Efforts to make healthcare affordable to all Americans began decades before the Obama administration. In the late 1970s or early 1980s, I heard Vernon Jordan, who back then headed the National Urban League, discuss the concept at a gathering of employees of a major corporation. During the 1990s, President Bill Clinton’s administration pursued the concept; Hillary Clinton was a key person in that pursuit. So to call it “ObamaCare” is misleading, in that it suggests that Obama invented the idea of affordable healthcare. Nonetheless, affordable healthcare finally became reality during President Obama’s presidency. So, we can add the implementation of affordable healthcare as a legacy of President Obama’s administration. On another domestic note, Obama was the first President of the United States to emerge from the Black Church. When he first ran for office, he was a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, a large, activist congregation in Chicago. Trinity’s pastor at that time was the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, who also preached at churches around the United States, including other activist congregations, such as St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York, Brooklyn. I suspect that Obama’s activist approach to the Presidency generated from, or at the very least was influenced by his involvement with an activist church. As he ran for his first Presidential term, “change” was a repeated key phrase in his campaign speeches. I hope that another Obama legacy will be church congregations, including predominantly black congregations, generating national government leaders who strive for Christ-centered change. Winter 2017 The Positive Community 121


The Last Word


Vol. 17, No. 1

REFLECTIONS ON A SNAPSHOT OF MY PRESIDENT 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 Marc Williams

Contributing Writers Mwandikaji K. Mwanafunzi g.r. mattox Patricia Baldwin Rev. Theresa Nance Glenda Cadogan Helene Fox Rev. Dr. Joanne Noel Photographers Bob Gore Wali A. Muhammad Seitu Oronde Rev. Dr. William L. Watkins, Jr. Darryl Hall Vincent Bryant Hubert Williams Brian Branch Price Karen Waters Art Direction & Layout Penguin Design Group Peter Gillo The Positive Community Corp. 133 Glenridge Avenue Montclair, NJ 07042 973-233-9200 Fax: 973-233-9201 Email: Website: All contents © 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.

122 Winter 2017 The Positive Community


s I took the opportunity to reflect upon the time I almost met then Senator Barack Obama in the doorway of a ladies’ restroom, I chuckled with amusement and held my breath in awe. It happened in a New York City hotel lobby in July of 2008; and it was indicative of both the type of person Barack Obama was and the type of President he would be. This was a man who after speaking to an audience of hundreds and before traveling to another speaking engagement, took the time to respond to the semi-desperate calls from a woman restricted to that restroom because of his security team and protocol. The incident happened long before Facebook Live and tweeting every moment of every day, so it’s not as if he had to worry about how it might look to the press or social media if he hadn’t accommodated me. He took a few moments of his valuable time to smile, sign autographs, and deliver the message that our time and support were both valuable and appreciated to him. As the years of his two terms unfolded, I saw this same consideration modeled time and again as he bent over to let a little brown-skinned boy touch his hair and marvel at the fact that the President of the United States of America’s hair felt like his, feigned capture as a tot dressed as Spider-Man pretended to shoot webs at him, complimented a toddler dressed as Super Man’s muscles, and made silly faces with seemingly hundreds of children and babies. White House Photographer Pete Souza captured almost 2 million photos of President Obama between 2008 and 2017, and it seems that hundreds, if not thousands capture the spontaneous joy that seemed to erupt across the faces of people around the world when they were in the presence of President Obama. The way he tended to “dap” black men rather than shak-

ing hands with them, reminded us that he knew the struggle of our fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, cousins, nephews, husbands, and lovers. Seeing crying babies calmed almost instantly by his touch, and white-haired ladies touch his face as they smiled and hugged him, spoke to his effortless connection with people from every walk of life. Not every photo boasted that million-watt smile, though. President Obama also shed many tears during his eight years in office. From the Newtown, Connecticut shooting of 20 six and seven year-old students to the massacre at Mother Emmanuel AME in Charleston, SC—our President wasn’t afraid to show his human side and remind our country and the world that while he was the most powerful man in the world, he was still human; a man of flesh and bone whose heart ached just as much as ours did, perhaps more. This is a man who never lost his cool in the face of unprecedented disrespect and criticism. After being raised to understand that a black man had to be twice as good to get half the recognition, he found that even after achieving the highest office in America, twice as good wasn’t good enough to stave off the attacks on his character, his intentions, and even his religion. But nevertheless, he persevered and rose to every occasion with decorum and aplomb perhaps beyond any ever displayed by any other politician. As I look back upon my snapshot of this man who not only changed American history, but changed the fabric of America by becoming our first African-American president, I am filled with pride and awe. Regardless of anything that happens after January 20th, 2017, Barack Obama was our first black President of the United States. And for me and millions of others around the world, he’ll always be our President.

O BAMA Columbia is proud of President Barack Obama, Columbia College class of 1983. His historic achievements reflect the highest ideals of a University devoted to the enduring mission of creating new knowledge, developing future leaders and serving our nation and our world.

Barack Obama on Columbia’s Morningside Campus for National Service Summit, September 11, 2008 Photo: Eileen Barroso

Thank You to President Obama for delivering the 250th Anniversary Commencement Address at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and for choosing Rutgers University–Newark (inset) as a stop on his national tour to promote improvements to the criminal justice system. As he concludes his presidency, we thank him for honoring Rutgers with his visits and for helping us mark our milestone anniversary.

Winter 2017 Obama Tribute  

A tribute to the first African-American President of the United States! From his humble beginnings to his meteoric rise and throughout his h...

Winter 2017 Obama Tribute  

A tribute to the first African-American President of the United States! From his humble beginnings to his meteoric rise and throughout his h...