Thursday, February 14, 2008

Aretha Franklin - The Queen of Soul Still Reigns

My cousin Ralonda and I got a chance to attend one of the BEST concerts of all times. Tell me if you can guess what song this is -
"What you want? Baby I got it! What you need? - you know I got it! All I want you to do for me..."
The second song that makes me sway back and forth is - well, try and guess it. It starts out with, "I got a phone call from my sister Carolyn. She said, Gotta find me an Angel..." Oh my goodness! Then she sang 'My Funny Valentine' and 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', just to name a few. Yes, you guessed it!
I just heard Aretha Franklin sing those songs LIVE, just an hour or so ago, at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles(NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE), to a multi-cultured crowd, completely jam packed audience. People were standing up and dancing in the isles. She even did a few new songs that are on her newest album. I can't wait to buy it.

She was excellent!

Aretha Franklin is a great American Icon, and she was in our midst this evening, and we all showed her how much we appreciated her Soulful sound.
Speaking of which, the Good Roland Bynum and his wife Carolyn, along with Jacquie Stephens, were sitting to my left. Roland Bynum is a true Professor of musicology. He is also Smokie Robinson's nephew.
What a great mentor and a community activist in the LA area. Both he and Jacquie Stephens make sure that the community at large, is engaged in conversation relating to current events that are taking place every day. Along with Dominique DiPrima, who hosts 'Front Page' every morning(an excellent talk show that encourages one to "Free their minds"and to remember that knowledge is power), positively represent KJLH Radio - 102.3 on your FM dial(
Thank you Thomas Owens, for truly letting your word be your bond.
What an amazing Staff over at KJLH Radio. Stevie Wonder, not only are you an American Icon, you are a brilliant man. The world is a better place because of your contributions - Globally. Believe that.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Allensworth, CA: An all Black Community

Colonel Allensworth was a man with a vision. He actually created the first and only all Black township called Allensworth, CA in 1908.

Yesterday, Shirley and I took a very comfortable ride on an Amtrak train, to Allensworth Historical Park( for the day. It was like a coming home, or family reunion. People came from everywhere, and we swopped stories of our families, food, children dancing and having potato sack races and all kinds of games and activities for everyone. Every nationality was there, and it was so nice. It reminded me of a time, not so long ago, when WE loved each other...
Ms. Hackett was born in the house that we visited yesterday(;
She took us all on a tour of the property.
(The first school in Allensworth was taught by her Mother and Aunts back in 1909.)
Ms. Hackett, and others, took the time to re-educate the young and old.
I have adored her for years. She said to always strive for higher ground.
You know what I mean?
She's having a book signing event May 17, 2008, so get your Amtrak tickets(Please contact Mr. Victor Carter, (661) 633-1577 or at he can tell you what code to give Amtrak, so that they will stop at the trainstop in Allensworth,CA. Otherwise, I kid you not, the train will not stop. Thanks Amtrak for accommodating us!

Try and make it to Allensworth, CA., for the book singing event! You won't be sorry...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Black History Tour of Los Angeles Feb 2, 2008

Dr. Shepherd was kind enough to reach out to the Community and take 6 bus loads of people of all walks of life, from 3725 Don Felipe Dr., Consolidated Realty - to some of the most interesting places throughout Southern California. It was very nice to know that in 1845, the last Californian Governor under Mexican rule was Pio de Jesus Pico - an African-Mexican. We went down to Olivera Street and read the names of those who were amongst the founding families of Los Angeles - LOS POBLADORES. Children and people young and old were gathered there at the sight of the plaque that lists the names of the founding families. It also lists their ethnicity. We also went by the three block area that African Americans had to live in from 1890-1905. The area is in the Temple District. It was very interesting... We visited Sugar Hill/West Adams District, Marvin Gayes' home where he met an untimely death. We then drove past the first, second and third Black Fire Stations and the First African Methodist Episcopal Church (2270 S. Harvard Blvd.)We then drove by the former houses of Ethel Waters (1919 S. Harvard Blvd.), Johnny Otis(2077 S. Harvard Blvd.),

Hattie McDaniel (1910 S. Harvard Blvd.) and Louise Beavers (1911 S. Harvard Blvd.)

It was so nice to see how Black Hollywood lived during the 1920's-40's. (Check out the book on Hattie McDaniel's life, 'Hattie McDaniel:Black Ambition, White Hollywood', Jill Watts, Author)

Shirley Smith told us all about the Black Saints that are buried here in LA, and showed us the first Catholic Cathedral in Los Angeles. She's a Docent at the very nice new Cathedral down town.

We also went down on Weller Street, and area that Black folks used to shop and hang out back in the 1910-1930's. We went by Bridgette " Biddy" Mason's dedicated plaque/wall. Biddy Mason was (Biddy Mason Wall - USC Dornsife) brought here from Texas for a visit with her slave master. With the help of several people, she hired an Attorney and fought for the right to remain here in California, as a free person. After the judge heard her story, he freed her and her daughters.
She purchased property in what is now downtown Los Angeles, and became one of the wealthiest women in Los Angeles. She helped feed the poor, heal the sick and helped birth children(Biddy Mason studied Midwifery, and carried a medical bag, because she was a bonafied healer, and helped so many) as a Mid-Wife.

The next time that you're in the downtown area, I dare you to look up Biddy Mason!
(The Biddy Mason Wall is located at 333 S. Spring St., LA, CA)

Thank you Dr. Sheperd, Shirley and Pat for inviting me on such a lovely, educational journey in Los Angeles.

Friday, February 1, 2008

California African American Museum Exhibitions - Jan 31 - June 1, 2008

Oh my, my, my. What a timely exhibit - 'The African Presence in Mexico - From Yanga to the Present. Who Are We Now? Roots, Resistance, and Recognition and Common Ground'.

Everyone should go and see this empowering exhibit. Please take the time to see what people can accomplish if they work together. Visit their website: ...