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Ayanna Pressley

SEPTEMBER 2018 –  America is still the land where wonders never cease. Last week, WGO reported about Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s upset victory over three white millionaire rivals in his quest for the Florida Governor’s Mansion.

On September 4, Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley defeated 10-term Congressman Michael Capuano in a primary race.   Like other progressives, Pressley, 44, got little respect from the Black political establishment – like the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative John Lewis, nor former MA Governor Deval Patrick – who supported Capuano, himself a progressive. Her platform is Medicare for all, stricter gun control, expanding subsidies to low-income families. She won 58.9% of the vote.   She runs unopposed in November, becoming Massachusetts’ first Black congresswoman.   The Collective PAC supports Black elected officials with Black agendas.

Why Pressley? The Chicago-born firebrand was raised by her mother, attended Boston University before getting a job as an aide to Congressman Joseph Kennedy and as a political director to Senator John Kerry. She talked candidly about dysfunction, her absent father and as the survivor of sexual assault, which she believes better prepares her to help people who lived through trauma and other struggles. She argues: “The people closest to the pain should be closest to the power.” Her campaign mantra was: “In the Age of Trump, change can’t wait.”   Her supporters are Blacks, women and college students.

ARTS CORNER

Portrait of Randy Weston
by Chester Higgins, Jr.

MUSIC:   Pianist extraordinaire Randy Weston, 92, died on September 1 at his home.   The Brooklyn-born music virtuoso, son of a Virginia mother and a Panamanian father, Frank Edward Weston, who was a ardent follower of Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association. His dad donned his walls with pictures of ancient African kings and talked obsessively about Africa.    Weston studied classical piano and was an accomplished composer. Categorized as a bebop pianist, he displayed his music depth and range with his first CD, “Cole Porter in a Modern Mood.”  Weston always underscored the connections between American jazz and blues and the music of Africa with his memoir, “African Rhythms.”    One friend lamented: “Randy was the last of the great jazz pianists. He traveled to 18 African countries, then moved his music career from NY to Morocco in the 60s. His music mentors included men like Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins and Billy Strayhorn. The NY Times obit headline reads: “Randy Weston, Pianist Who Emphasized the African Roots of Jazz is Dead.”  Funeral Arrangements: Wake September 9,   Frank Bell Funeral Home 536 Sterling Place, Brooklyn. Homegoing   Service, September 10:   View 3-4 pm, Service 4-7 pm Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, 112 Street, Harlem.

FINE ARTS: The Skoto Gallery presents CIRCULAR JOURNEY III, an exhibition of recent works by Jamaican-born fine artist Bryan McFarlane, from September 6 to October 20.   His work displays his “commitment to the exploration of color, form and abstraction as means to expand the boundaries between art and consciousness.” Born in Portland, Jamaica, a descendent of Maroons, he earned an MFA at the Massachusetts College of Fine Art, he is a Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Massachusetts. The gallery is located at 529 West 20th Street, Manhattan. [Visit skotogallery.com]

The June Kelly Gallery presents “Lisa Mackie, Here, Then and Now Installation,” which opens September 6 and runs through October 9. She earned her MFA in Painting and Printmaking at the University of Wisconsin.   Her works are included in public and corporate collections at the Baltimore Museum, Brooklyn Museum, National Museum (Botswana), National Museum (Poland), Citibank (NY) and PepsiCo (NY).   Located at 166 Mercer Street in Manhattan, the gallery is open 11 am to 6 pm, Tuesday to Saturday. [Visit Junekellygallery.com]

The DORSEY Gallery’s new exhibit, COLOR SENSATION, showcasing works by Emmet Wigglesworth, Jerry Barry and Jide Ogo, runs from

September 9-23. Gallery is located at 553 Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn. [Visit lpdbrooklynarts@gmail.com]

NEWSMAKERS

RIP: Ozro Thaddeus (O.T.) Wyoming Wells, 87, died last week.   Born in Jim Crow North Carolina, he was the son of Mary and Bishop WyomingWells. A Class of 1953 Morehouse man, he earned a law degree from Boston University. After serving in the US Army Signal Corps, he relocated to NY, where his storied life unfolded.  A formidable litigator, he was recognized as one of America’s leading attorneys in civil rights and in criminal defense.   The former president of the National Bar Association was admitted to the bar in NY, Massachusetts and the US Supreme Court.   His clients included Miles Davis, Bumpy Johnson and CORE, a civil rights organization. He was a Watergate advisor and a Richard Nixon military delegate to Germany, an Omega Psi Phi member, and a Guardsman.   A memorial service is scheduled on September 22 at 10 am at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.

 FALL PREVIEWS

CEMOTAP (Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People) hosts a Donald Trump discussion, moderated by Dr. James McIntosh, with legal scholar Dr. Gloria Brown Marshall who will evaluate him from a constitutional perspective, and media pundit Playthell Benjamin who evaluates him from a psycho-historical perspective on September 22 at 2 pm at the CEMOTAP Center, located at 135-05 Rockaway Boulevard, South Ozone Park, Queens, NY. Admission is free. [Call 347.907.0629]

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will host its 48th Annual Legislative Conference, September 12-16 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.   The CBCF Conference is the leading policy conference with a focus on issues pertinent to African-Americans and the global Black community. More than 70 public policy forums are scheduled. [Visit CBCFINC.ORG]

Andrew Holness

The American Caribbean Maritime Foundation (ACMF) will host its first Anchor Awards Benefit Gala, under the patronage of Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, at the NY Yacht Club on October 18. Distinguished honorees are three leaders in the global maritime industry:  Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International; Roland Malins-Smith, Seafreight Line, Ltd; and Rick Murrell, Saltchuk Resources and Tropical Shipping.   Gala proceeds will support Jamaican-based Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) scholarships and infrastructure development.   Founded in 2016 by Geneive Brown Metzger, former Jamaica Consul General in New York, the New York-based ACMF is a nonprofit which combats poverty and joblessness by tapping into the unlimited resources of the maritime industry.      [Visit ACMFDN.ORG]

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A Harlem-based management consultant, Victoria is reachable at Victoria.horsford@gmail.com.