Monday, December 29, 2008

Uptown Inaugural Events & Information

CLICK on "Red" Event Titles
to access complete information on events!

will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.

We are the ones we've been waiting for."

Barack H. Obama - Inaugural Ceremonies
44th President of the United States

Through Tuesday, January 20, 2009
‘A New Birth of Freedom’—2009 Inaugural Theme

Barack H. Obama - Inauguration Ceremonies
Live Screening: Schomburg Center

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Obama Inaugural Poet, Elizabeth Alexander
Born in Harlem, 1962

Barack H. Obama Lived Here
339 East 94th Street

East Harlem (El Barrio)
Barack H. Obama, CC'83 - Inauguration Ceremonies
Live Screening: Columbia University

11:00am - Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Inauguration of a DREAM:
A Celebration of Choice, Voice & Democracy in Harlem

The largest Presidential Inauguration event in Harlem!
10:30 am - Tuesday, January 20, 2009
369th Regiment Armory

Jumbotron Viewing of Obama Inauguration
Adam C. Powell State Office Bldg. Plaza

10:30am - Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Adam C. Powell State Plaza

Barack H. Obama - Inauguration Ceremonies
Live Screening: Shepard Hall, City College

11:30am - Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Billie's Black, DC and Back!
Dinner & Round Trip to Obama Inauguration

Monday, January 19 through Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Billie's Black Bar/Lounge/Restaurant
Round Trip NYC/DC

Inaugural Day Celebration
All Day/AllNight: Hudson River

Lunch: 11:00am, Dinner: 5:00pm & Live Music: 11:00pm
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Hudson River Cafe

Inauguration Day Party & Ball
All Day/All Night: Mobay Uptown

8:00pm - Ball
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
MoBay Uptown

A Lenox Lounge Celebration for the Inauguration
America's First Black President - Barack Obama

8:00 pm
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Lenox Lounge

Live Jazz Inauguration Celebration
7:00pm until 11:00pm - Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Zip Code

Obama "Harlem" Inaugural Party
Hosted by Broadway's Brenda Braxton!

8:00pm - Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just Lorraine's Place
A Real Neighborhood Obama Celebration!

10:00am - 4:00pm - Tuesday, January 22,2009
Just Lorraine's Place

Celebration of the Inauguration of Barack Obama
6:00pm - 9:00pm
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pizza Party Restaurant

Inauguration Day Party
Chew & View:
La Fonda Boricua

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day Party
Chew & View:
Gran Piatto d'Oro

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Special "OBAMA" Sandwich
East Harlem: Ferny's Deli House

Now Available
1490 Madison Avenue

The Historic Campaign
With author Deborah Willis

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe

The Historic Campaign in Photographs

Through February 28, 2009
Schomburg Center

OBAMA Online:
Official Inaugural Store

Through February 1, 2009

Brenda Brunson-Bey of Tribal Truths
Obamawear & Inaugural Celebrations

Through February 1, 2009
Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz
Memorial and Educational Center

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Learning Tolerance
by Michael Henry Adams

They will not learn, they will not learn,
They will not see the scorn their actions earn,
Nor empathize, or even show concern for others
Also wistful to be free.
Fine fellows, much like them, or you or me!
Who laugh and cry, who love and die, who yearn...

Teaching our children to get along, with us,
each other and strangers,
is perhaps a parent’s hardest but most urgent task.

When an older child wants the same toy a littler brother is already happily playing with, what can one do? As he’s bigger, he takes it. The toddler cries to be sure, but not out of resignation. He s determined to retake what he feels is rightfully his.

Anguished threats, “I'll tell”, are heedless. So predictably, he hits, he scratches, he bites. Drawing blood, nonetheless he’s no match for his stronger sibling. His bigger brother, grown fed up by the persistent taunting, brandishing the toy, casually strikes the “hysterical” child. Without having meant to, the blow puts out the right eye of the "baby" whose arrival usurped all he had had. “He‘ll never see out of that eye again”, doctors say.

Who’s to blame? Can your sons continue to love each other, can they hope to live in peace? How has the 'accident' affected their sister? What do relatives or the neighbors think? If anything, what might you do, to make things alright again?

Finding our way to world peace is no less an imperative than solving our often complex domestic disputes. It’s also no easier.

OK, so Hamas started it. Now what? Either today or tomorrow, will more Israeli air strikes or the introduction of ground troops do anything at all to bring about greater security in the Middle-East?

As an African American, without either condoning their violent action or absolving them from responsibility for the present strife, I feel great empathy for the besieged Gaza Palestinians. A

Harlemite, and historian, a long-time fervent integrationist, now branded a racist, I have a difficult time placing greater, or even the majority of the blame, with those suffering most of the injury and most of the deaths.

How does that work, that it’s always supposed to be the poor, the oppressed, the attacked, the weak and neglected, who are at fault for our own affliction? Why is it that we without resources, jobs or even a political voice, are the ones most condemned for our obstruction, our racism, our terror?

Three or four centuries ago, Spanish and English colonist felt sure it was Native Americans who were uncivilized. Initially welcoming and helpful, soon they were dismissed as savage combatants, perpetually in pursuit of blood-lust. Yet just look at the outcome. The Indians were decimated. Today they retain not even one-one-thousandth of their richly endowed, totally appropriated former “homeland”.

Similar are Africans. Sure, warring tribes practiced slavery long before encountering Europeans. But, until the fateful involvement of Whites, slavery was hardly the mammoth, utterly brutal, multinational fulcrum of profit it became.

Certainly no African ever ask to be placed in bondage, to labor here for someone else, or dreamed of bequeathing to their children, grandchildren and their children, so dire a destiny.

To Germans, Nationalist-Socialist, Jews, irrespective of class, skill or accomplishment, were a malevolent plague. As such, their eradication became a goal of greater importance than establishing a one -thousand year Reich, dominating the world. Finally, for Adolph Hitler and other fanatical Nazis, killing Jews became a mission above and beyond even survival of the German volk.

Believing hatred to stem, at least in part, from the hater’s guilt for his exploitation of others, Hitler’s Jewish persecution is incomprehensible. Demonizing his victims, he made them effective scapegoats for every ill in the entire world. But apart from this ploy to gain political power, little else was attempted to utilize subjugated Jews on either a practical or logical basis. Invariably, even when employed as slave laborers, the goal of death superseded productivity.

It’s this degree of unambiguously self-destructive contempt that makes the Holocaust chillingly frightful. So does its place in the recent past, little more than a decade before my birth. It’s hard indeed to dispute t hose who contend that this was the ultimate horror of modern times: ample validation, along with a centuries old legacy of violation, for establishing a Jewish nation-state.

Nazi Germany was a regime of unspeakable brutality, implemented by citizens as famed for their civility as for their highly developed and highly advanced cultural identity. Allying time-honored cruelty with the most up-to-date technology of torture and murder, it effected countless casualties, many, educated people who read the same books that I have, who loved the same music, who watched and enjoyed some of the same plays and movies, too.

Although I know I’m not supposed to think so, the m ore distant and less unrelentingly merciless Middle Passage, as a result, evokes for me a far lesser sense of dread.

For how many African slaves in America were ever maltreated or sadistically tortured for amusement sake, with no consideration whatever, of the material consequence of their impaired or lost productivity? Some were, for a fact, but comparatively very few. Slavery, you see, was an aspect of America’s free enterprise system. Contrasted with the Holocaust, it was not all that far removed from the conditions some workers endure today.

Moreover, very many of us appreciate human nature well enough to understand that, given a chance, with no threat of disapproval from our family or peers, many would contentedly own slaves today. Assured an easy existence, with others to work to provide us with community, prestige and a luxurious life-style, able to leave our children in capable hands while we partook of pleasure , sometimes in the company of young, fit, lovely attendant s who couldn't say no, which of us might demure?

As for helping to effect a Holocaust however, most feel that there’s no question as to whether or not we would act righteously. This is what gives the novel and movie The Reader such profound relevance.

As the last of Hitler’s willing executioners and hapless victims approach their life’s end, it’s all the more crucial to be reminded of the enormity of all that happened and the commonplace, even legalistic, way in which it occurred. Far from trivializing the German atrocity, as some critics claim, showing the humanity and sympathy of a Nazi is a powerful way to teach.

When an illiterate former death-camp guard unashamedly confesses to letting prisoners burn to death in a locked church, she maintains it was her duty. They were her responsibility, she explains, and unlocking the church during the upheaval of an Allied air raid, would have meant certain escape. "What”, she poignantly beseeches the court and us, “would you have done in my place?”

We feel certain we know the answer, but do we really?

Occasionally, humankind’s inhumanity is such that people voluntarily count themselves among the oppressed. Easily able to pass for White, as a boy civil rights activist, Walter White "rejoiced that he was Colored!" Envious White Atlantans were trying to set his family’s house afire. One feels reasonably assured that White eventually learned his mistake.

While it’s true that tyranny helps to make more virtuous, this is only due to a greater lack of opportunity to misbehave. Some, once liberated, even come to vie w oppressing others as a sign of equality or a demonstration of self-defense.

Just as wrong-headed is the equation of a group’s ability to withstand hardship and misery, and a relevant quotient of valor. How sad to read of Rabbinical students, pondering, with remorse, whether or not they and all other Jews are, or will be seen to be, culpable in the swindles of Bernard Madoff? With undue idealism, some friends of mine, non-Jews, even insist, that following the Holocaust, 'enlightened' by sorrow, Jews ought unfailingly to treat Palestinian freedom fighters with far greater consideration.

If The Reader convincingly suggests that, Hitler notwithstanding, all Germans are not evil, that even all bad Germans were not entirely bad, doesn’t Mr. Madoff, like Michael Milken, indicate as well that all Jews aren’t automatically all good either?

But let’s face it, lacking basic empathetic understanding for one another; people fail routinely to do as much as they could to make the world better. Nothing less will ever matte r, not if we truly desire significant change.

Saying, “never again”, demanding improved schools, universal health care and affordable but decent housing, we simply must include everyone. Being forced out of Park Avenue, Park Slope or China Town, then turning around to further gentrify Harlem, is no different than what was done to the Indians.

“Thank goodness that, good, bad or indifferent, some people, sometimes, muster the wherewithal to do what they can to make a difference in life.”
Earth Kitt mused last summer.

“We are mighty fortunate to be encouraged recently, by the inspirational and positive message of Senator Barack Obama”, she added.

Only, in singling out Obama for praise, this legendary song stylist, who died from cancer early on Christmas morning, might just as easily to have been referring instead to her own exceptional behavior.

It was January 18, 1968. President Kennedy and Malcolm X have both been slain. In April Dr. King will die. Robert Kennedy’s candidacy for president, much like Barack Obama’s, is seen as a beacon of hope in a sea of troubles. But Kennedy’s murder is mere months away too. America’s beleaguered, Black ghettos are in disarray. Some are even in flames.

So what was Earth Kitt expected to say?

Fresh from her triumphant portrayal of the seductive, sensually growling Cat-woman on TV’s Bat-man series, sex-kitten Kitt, whom Orson Wells had called, “the most exciting woman in the world!…”, was invited to lunch with fifty other ladies at the White House. Their purpose was to bring attention to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s proposals to combat crime in urban areas.

But when Mrs. Johnson innocently asked the star, What makes American youth so disaffected?, Kitt hadn’t hesitated for a second in answering. It amounted, in fact, during the Vietnam War’s height, to a reprise of the 'shot heard around the world.'

“You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed…They rebel in the street. They will take pot.; They will get high. They don’t want to go to school because they’re going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam… ”

This was the outpouring of one mother’s anguished outrage over war. It would cost her plenty too, including a decade-long spot topping the entertainment industry’s black list.

As an historian, sometimes I wonder, are any Black people today the same brave folks we used to be? Faced with the challenges of our forebears, would we be as capable of standing tall, of speaking truth to power? Black, White or any other race, have we, any of us, any hope at all, in the 21st Century, of ever emulating the courage of Medger Evers, Bay ard Rustin or Eartha Kitt?

In these days, when so few are willing to risk speaking up, notwithstanding all our current turmoil, it's Eartha Kitt’s role as an anti-war activist that’s won her a place in the history of American civil rights. Wow, imagine, the power of such stirring words emanating from one so delicately-made and exquisitely turned-out, a woman of mixed American heritage! What better proof, either in a group, or even one at a time, in the USA, promoting peace is an option open equally, to all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hillary "Camp"
The Staircase of the White House...

this is the staircase
of the White House...

One only has to recall Tina Fey and her recent dead
on jabs at Sarah Palin to appreciate the art of a well crafted imitation and its power to amuse. A quick search on Youtube reveals no shortage of others aspiring to Tina Fey's skill.

Below are two camp and amusingly personal efforts
at Carol Burnett like take-offs of the film, "Sunset Boulevard" and its famed character Norma Desmond, performed in the guise of Hillary Clinton.

Film Classic: Sunset Boulevard, 1950

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Al Sharpton & Caroline Kennedy
Go to Lunch in Harlem

Another Kennedy
looks for Harlem's support!

By JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – The Rev. Al Sharpton took Caroline Kennedy to lunch Thursday at a famed Harlem soul food restaurant as she continued her quest to join her uncle in the U.S. Senate. Kennedy smiled as she and the civil rights activist made their way through a throng of media and into Sylvia's, whose walls are lined with photographs of visiting politicians including the Clintons.

"I come at this as a mother, as a lawyer, as an author, as an education advocate and from a family that really has spent generations in public service," Kennedy told reporters after lunch. "I feel this commitment, and this is a time when nobody can afford to sit out. And I hope that I have something to offer."

The late President John F. Kennedy's daughter acknowledged Wednesday she's seeking to be appointed to the Senate seat held by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to be secretary of state.

Kennedy was asked what she would need to do to prepare herself for the post, which has attracted the interest of at least a dozen Democratic officials including her former relative by marriage, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

"I have, you know, quite a lot to learn, but I feel like I bring a lot with me, as well," Kennedy said.

She was also asked why she was plunging into politics now, after spending most of her life carefully cultivating her privacy.

"These are issues that I care so much about and I understand that, really, I have been trying to work on them as a private citizen and in the position that I have," she said. "But really, to solve our problems, I think government is the place where people need to come together."

Kennedy's emergence as a contender has generated both buzz and controversy. She comes from a Democratic dynasty but has never held public office, and some Republicans and Democrats have criticized her lack of experience.

Democratic Gov. David Paterson has said he won't make an appointment until Clinton is confirmed. The governor confirmed Kennedy's interest in the seat on Monday, the same day she reached out to Sharpton in a telephone call.

After speaking to Kennedy, Sharpton released a statement saying he disagreed with those who say she isn't qualified to be U.S. senator.

He said he had invited her to dine wtih him at Sylvia's this week, reminding her that he took Obama there during his campaign "so it's a good luck stop since he did all right."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Odetta, Folk Legend Dies at 77

Rosa Parks, the woman who started the boycott
of segregated buses in Montgomery, Ala., was once
asked which songs meant the most to her.

She replied,
"All of the songs Odetta sings."

Published: The New York Times/December 3, 2008

Odetta, the singer whose resonant voice wove together the strongest songs of American folk music and the civil rights movement, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 77.

Odetta, who lived in Upper Manhattan, had been admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital three weeks ago with a number of ailments, including kidney trouble, Mr. Yeager said. In her last days, he said, she had been hoping to sing at the presidential inauguration for Barack Obama.

In a career of almost 60 years, Odetta sang at coffeehouses and at Carnegie Hall. She became one of the best-known folk-music artists of the 1950s and ’60s. Her recordings of blues and ballads on dozens of albums influenced Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Janis Joplin and many others.

Odetta’s voice was an accompaniment to the black-and-white images of the freedom marchers who walked the roads of Alabama and Mississippi and the boulevards of Washington to end racial discrimination.

Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger led to the boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Ala., was once asked which songs meant the most to her. “All of the songs Odetta sings,” she replied.

One of those songs was “I’m on My Way,” sung during the pivotal civil-rights March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. In a videotaped interview with The New York Times in 2007 for its online feature “The Last Word,” Odetta recalled the sentiments of another song she performed that day, “Oh Freedom,” which is rooted in slavery: “Oh freedom, Oh freedom, Oh freedom over me/ And before I’d be a slave, I’d be buried in my grave/ And go home to my Lord and be free.”

Odetta Holmes was born in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 31, 1930, in the depths of the Depression. The music of that time and place — particularly prison songs and work songs recorded in the fields of the Deep South — shaped her life.

“They were liberation songs,” she said in the interview with The Times. She added: “You’re walking down life’s road, society’s foot is on your throat, every which way you turn you can’t get from under that foot. And you reach a fork in the road and you can either lie down and die or insist upon your life.”

Her father, Reuben Holmes, died when she was young, and in 1937 she and her mother, Flora Sanders, moved to Los Angeles. Three years later Odetta discovered that she could sing.

“A teacher told my mother that I had a voice, that maybe I should study,” she recalled. “But I myself didn’t have anything to measure it by.”

She found her own voice by listening to blues, jazz and folk music from the African-American and Anglo-American traditions. She earned a music degree from Los Angeles City College. Her training in classical music and musical theater was “a nice exercise, but it had nothing to do with my life,” she said.

“The folk songs were — the anger,” she emphasized.

In a National Public Radio interview in 2005 she said: “School taught me how to count and taught me how to put a sentence together. But as far as the human spirit goes, I learned through folk music.”

In 1950 Odetta began singing professionally in a West Coast production of the musical “Finian’s Rainbow,” but she found a stronger calling in the bohemian coffeehouses of San Francisco. “We would finish our play, we’d go to the joint, and people would sit around playing guitars and singing songs and it felt like home,” she said.

She moved to New York in 1953 and began singing in nightclubs like the storied Blue Angel, cutting a striking figure with her guitar and her close-cropped hair, her voice plunging deep and soaring high. Her songs blended the personal and the political, the theatrical and the spiritual. Her first solo album, “Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues,” released in 1956, resonated with an audience eager to hear old songs made new.

Mr. Dylan, referring to that recording, said in a 1978 interview with Playboy, “The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta.” He said he heard something “vital and personal,” and added, “I learned all the songs on that record.” The songs included “Muleskinner Blues,” “Jack o’ Diamonds” and “ ’Buked and Scorned.”

“What distinguished her from the start,” Time magazine wrote in 1960, “was the meticulous care with which she tried to recreate the feeling of her folk songs; to understand the emotions of a convict in a convict ditty, she once tried breaking up rocks with a sledgehammer.”

That year she gave a celebrated solo concert at Carnegie Hall and released a live album of it. Eight years later she was on stage there again, now with Mr. Dylan, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and other folk stars in a tribute to Woody Guthrie, which was also recorded for an album.