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Freedom Friday

Thank the Lord it is Friday!

In honor of Black History Month, check this out from Fonzworth Bentley.  It’s called Fireside Chat. 

This summer, Fonsworth was hanging out in the hot spots of DC.   Being in his presence, he seemed very down-to-earth.  This brother proves that he has style, and most importantly, substance. 

Get Some Culture

I attended the first screening for the Nollywood Film Festival.  I recommend getting there early, because seats go fast.  Once the seats are gone, no one can enter the building.


Nigerian cinema, or “Nollywood,” has become one of the largest film industries in the world. Documentaries and feature films highlight the production values and narrative content of this cinema on the rise. 

In Nollywood Lady (2008, 52 min, English subtitles, directed by Dorothee Wenner), Peace Anyiam-Fibresima — an impresario of showbiz and an impassioned spokeswoman for the thriving and innovative African film industry — is the “Nollywood Lady.” An ex-lawyer, producer, filmmaker, and the founder and CEO of the influential African Academy of Motion Pictures, she is reshaping the way Africans see themselves—and how the world sees Africans. Sharing her vision for transforming preconceptions about Africa and African images with filmmaker Dorothee Wenner, Anyiam-Fibresima takes viewers on an all-access tour to film locations, markets, and sit-downs with Nollywood professionals in the vibrant production hub of Lagos. Rounding out this insider’s primer to a dynamic $250 million industry are several clips from the more than 1,500 direct-to-video, mostly low-budget, culturally distinct and immensely popular Nollywood films produced each year.

Discussion with Peace Anyiam-Fibresima follows screening.

@National Museum of African Art

Lecture Hall, Sublevel 2

950 Independence Avenue SW


Screenings are every Thursday during Black History Month.

We Cre8 History

Everyone is invited to learn about black history through the oral tradition of storytelling.

 The district’s newest venue for arts and humanities, Cre8 Space Studio Gallery will host several African-American historical figures for a 2-day exposition of storytelling, music, dance and fun entitled “We Cre8 History”.

Emmy Award winning journalist, Jeff Kamen will present raw and touching stories of his experiences on the front lines of the civil rights war of the 60’s.

National Society of Black Engineers Executive Director, Carl B. Mack recaps on key components of black history in an electrifying “Black History… The Right Way!!!”

Vibrant and powerful works of art by award-winning photographer Jonathan French, and previous Youth Artist of the Year painter Moe will be showcased.  Both artists, who are local to the tri-state area, will share their personal “Journey of an Artist” stories.

The weekend kicks off on Friday February 19th from 6pm to 8pm, featuring a presentation tailored for kids and family enjoyment.

Saturday February 20th  from 8pm to 10pm, geared more towards adults, will wrap up with a private reception. Light refreshments will be served at a cash bar after both events.

@Cre8 Space Studio Gallery, 1314 9th St NW

Washington, DC 20001

Mt. Vernon Square Convention Center Metro

Admission is FREE.

For the complete agenda and artist bios, go here.

Tuskegee Airmen & John Hope Franklin @The National Archives Experience

The National Archives is hosting two great events in honor of Black History Month this week.

A panel discussion and film screening celebrating the achievements of America’s first African-American military airmen.

Moderated by Dr. Rex M. Ellis, associate director of curatorial affairs, Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture, the discussion is scheduled to include Lt. Gen. (ret.) Russell C. Davis, current president of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., and several surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Also part of the program will be a screening of Wings for This Man, an 11-minute film produced in 1944 by the Army Air Forces and narrated by Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

@ The National Archives, Constitution Ave. NW [between 7th & 9th St.]

William G. McGowan Theater

Washington, DC 20408

Metro: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter

Begins at 7PM



The ninth edition of From Slavery to Freedom by John Hope Franklin and Evelyn Higginbotham has been revised to reflect the most current scholarship on African-American history.

This program will focus on the legacy of John Hope Franklin and this award-winning work. Joining the discussion will be Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, co-author of From Slavery to Freedom; Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero; and John Franklin, son of John Hope Franklin. A book signing will follow the program.

Wednesday, February 18, 2010

@ The National Archives, Constitution Ave. NW [between 7th & 9th St.]

William G. McGowan Theater

Washington, DC 20408

Metro: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter

Begins at 7PM


Does Anyone Believe in Black History Month Anymore?

Black History Month is on the chopping block..AGAIN.  *smh*  Every year, Black people have to justify why we think it is important to celebrate and acknowledge our history.  Even some of our own tend to think that Black History Month is outdated.  I really want to know why people think Black History Month is irrelevant, or unwilling to celebrate their race (there is only one race– the human race) culture?  To me, what makes America so great is the ability to be an American, and to embrace your unique culture.

I guess many people believe since Black people have made it, there is no need for Black History Month.  For the most part, we have assimilated into the American culture.  We hold elected positions, lead Fortune 500 companies, own television stations and are millionaires.  I tend to think that Black History Month has less to do about our ability to make money, and more to do about knowing who we are and that we have the capability to achieve our aspirations.  Furthermore, the State of Black America reveals that the majority of Black people still haven’t made it, and continue to face inequalities within education, healthcare,  justice system, economic opportunity and civic engagement.

In the world we live in today, more than ever, we need to focus on our positive heritage.  When I look at the skewed images of Black culture depicted within the media, Black History Month is imperative.  Black culture has been “ghettoized”.  It has been debased to the entertainment and amusement of others.  Black culture is so much more than this.  Black culture consists of our faith, politics, African lineage, art, music, dance, literature, language, attire and cuisine.  I am not saying that the images of Black people should only look like the Huxtables.  I AM saying that there needs to be balance.  Learning about Black history allows us to counteract the less than favorable depictions of Black people around the world.  The rich diversity that exists in our culture is deep and beautiful, and our great leaders are inspirational.  From Queen Hatshepsut, Olaudah Equiano, Joseph Cinque, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Patrice LumumbaMark Dean, Patricia Bath, and the list goes on.  And let’s make it more relevant.  Who was the first person in your family to graduate from college?  What family member opened a business? What family member worked in the civil rights movement, locally or nationally? Who served on the PTA or ran for office in your family’s hometown?  Black history is all around us, and it is being made daily.

However, when it comes down to it, each of us are ultimately responsible for teaching ourselves and each other about our culture and heritage. How do you teach your children about their culture and heritage?  What traditions– family or cultural– do you practice?  At times, I think people assume with our access to resources and technology that children know their culture and history.  This is not necessarily the case.  Besides, talking to your children about their culture, and sharing stories about their family is priceless.  It provides a sense of identity, pride, self-love and confidence.

My parents believed in the importance of Black history and education.  However, they knew they couldn’t do it alone, and the schools were not going to help.  So from the age of 12 to 14,  my mother loaded me and my siblings into the car every Saturday morning to attend a Saturday school called Project Academic Excellence, fondly known as PAX.  It was founded by Dr. Norman Marcere.  Dr. Marcere understood there was a correlation between academic achievement and self-esteem.  It was very similar to the “Self-Esteem through Culture Leads to Academic Excellence” curriculum, or better known as “SETCLAE”, created by educator, author and activist, Dr. Jawaaza Kunjufu.  Dr. Kunjufu  developed this curriculum to teach children about their heritage to increase their self-esteem and the power to excel.  At first, it wasn’t easy getting up early in the morning, and to top it off, miss my Saturday morning cartoons.  However, after awhile, I began to look forward to Saturday school (after all, I was a nerd :) ) PAX began with an opening assembly.  Dr. Marcere greeted us, and lead the singing of the National Black Anthem.  From 9AM to Noon, we attended a math class, english class, Spanish class and a Black history class.  This experience gave me extra support to become a better student and to feel good about myself.  It fueled my passion to succeed.

I believe that every American should take pride in their culture, and learn about other cultures.  I love learning about different cultures.  The more I understand, the more similarities that I find such as belief systems, traditions and values.  And it only reaffirms my own culture.  When we nurture common values and mutual respect of people from other cultures, we cultivate a global community.  Each culture has a richness, and one isn’t better that the other.  Each culture should be equally appreciated.

So join me in celebrating Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March, Asian American Month in MayHispanic Heritage Month in September and October and any other culture you would like to learn more about.


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