WHAT’S GOING ON

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Calvin Butts

FEBRUARY 2019

This year is the 400th Anniversary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. February ushers in Black History Month. The Centennial Celebration of the Harlem Black Renaissance began last November and will be recognized for two years, ending October 2020. Writer/poet/activist Langston Hughes’ 118th Birthday Anniversary soiree will be held on February 1.   The NYS Association of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus hosts its 48th Annual Conference on February 15-17. This year, willy-nilly, is emerging as the year of the American Woman!

Stacey Abrams

The Democratic Party’s rising star, lawyer/entrepreneur Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate, will deliver the Democratic response to Republican President Donald Trump’s “State of the Union” address on February 5.

The 2020 US Presidency is the prize which titillates Democrats across the land. Oval Office hopefuls like US Senator Kamala Harris have hit the ground running. Last Sunday, she addressed an enthusiastic crowd, 20,000 strong, in California. She sounded charismatic, articulate and focused. US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been working Iowa. Senator Bernie Sanders has joined the race. Senator Hillary Clinton has not ruled out a third presidential run. Howard Schultz, Billionaire Starbucks founder, announced that he’d run as an independent because the DNC has drifted too far left. Wouldn’t an independent candidate bolster a Trump second term? Billionaire Mike Bloomberg, former NYC Mayor, has been eyeing the presidency as a Democrat.

NEW YORK

The NYS Association of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislators will host its 48th Annual Legislative Conference from February 15-17 at the Hilton Albany, 40 Lodge Street. Weekend calendar includes the 48th Scholarship Dinner, a Crafts & Business Expo, The Black Party and Latin Jazz Night. It is a session frequented by people of assorted political pedigree and by Corporate America. It is the venue to meet NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, maybe Cuomo and definitely Gillibrand. For more info and reservations call 518-455-5347.

HARLEM: Assemblywoman Inez Dickens presents the Charles B. Rangel Leadership Awards Dinner at Mist Harlem, 46 West 116th Street, on Thursday, January 31 at 6:30 pm. Honorees are Barbara Atkins, BID 125; Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, Abyssinian Baptist Church; John Catsimatidis, Red Apple Group; Maria Cruz, ARCO Management; and Lloyd Williams, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce. For reservations call 212.531.2858 or e-mail: gaby@dynamicsrg.com.  

BUSINESS AFFAIRS

           A new Africa-themed restaurant, TERANGA, headed by internationally renowned Senegalese chef/restauranteur Pierre Thiam, opens on February 1 at THE AFRICA CENTER, 1280 Fifth Avenue, at 110th Street, Harlem, along the northern border of Museum Mile.

According to the WSJ and the realdeal.com, unconventional mortgage loans are making a comeback, a national trend. Lenders issued $34 billion of these loans in the first three quarters of 2018, a 24% hike above the same period in 2017. Loans are aimed at buyers unable to provide legitimate written proof of income.    

HBCUs UPDATE

HBCUs: Bennett College, a four-year liberal arts college for Black women, an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) based in Greensboro, North Carolina, must raise $5 million by February 1 in order to maintain its accreditation and remain open. Founded in 1873 as a coeducational school for newly emancipated slaves, Bennett remained coed until 1926. To date, Bennett has raised $2.7 million, including $1 million last week from the Papa John’s Foundation and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, each of which donated $500,000.  Can the UNCF and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund donate monies to keep Bennett College afloat? [Visit Bennett.edu/standwithbennett]  

Black billionaire Robert Smith donated $1.5 million to Morehouse College, the all-men’s HBCU headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

ARTS/CULTURE/HISTORY

The year 2019 is the 400th Anniversary of the Atlantic Slave Trade, one of the greater tragedies of the modern period. Commemorative events are planned across the African Diaspora world. The Schomburg Center presents the Harlem Chamber Players’ 11th Annual Black History Month Celebration in the Langston Hughes Auditorium on February 28 at 6:30 pm, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard. “This concert commemorates the 400th Anniversary of the importation of the first Black slaves to America and features two world premiers by the noted African-American composer Adolphus Hailstork.” Concert musicians are pianist David Berry, violinists Ashley Home and Curtis Steward, violinist Amadi Azikiwe and cellist Wayne Smith. Concert will be free and open to the public and RSVP is required. [Visit harlemchamberplayers.org]

LITERATURE: Writer/poet Langston Hughes’ 118th Birthday Anniversary will be celebrated at the Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, on February 1 at 6 pm. Evening includes an exhibit preview, reception, program and dancing. Reservations are necessary.

MUSIC: Minton’s Playhouse and the Positive Community will co-host Positive Music Jazz Masters Series from February to June 2019 at Minton’s, 206 West 118th Street, Harlem. The series begins on 2/4 at 6 pm and will feature Kenny Barron, TS Monk III and Nikara Warren.  [Visit mintonsharlem.com]

Naomi Campbell

FASHION: The recent Parisian Fashion Week eclipsed the concurrent DAVOS Economic Summit in Switzerland.  Black seems to be the new preferred color for Fashion Week models, contracted by Europe’s top fashion houses.   Valentino’s haute couture line featured 60 models, 40 of whom were Black. Naomi Campbell modeled in the Valentino Show, Vuitton men’s collection was rife with Black models. Wonder if Ghanaian-born British Vogue magazine Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful and Ghanaian-American Virgil Abloh, Men’s Creative Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton, had anything to do with European fashion houses’ new color preferences of chocolate models??  

Stateside, we have Harlem Fashion Week (HFW), an offshoot of NY Fashion Week, which launches its 6th season next month. Founded by fashionista mother/daughter team Tandra Birkett and Yvonne Jewnell, HFW replicates the drama and glamour elements of NY Fashion Week with a focus on Black established and emerging designers and models uptown.   HFW opens 2/13 with a Designer Meet and Greet. February 16 is the HFW presents Honoree Reception and its Runway Show at the Museum of the City of NY. On March 2, the HFW Symposium, at the Harlem State Office Building, 163 West 125th Street, recognizing Black Fashion Legends, Trailblazers and Groundbreakers. [Visit Harlem Fashion Week on YouTube]

NEWSMAKERS

Charles Weldon

RIP:   Charles Weldon, 78, has died.   Veteran actor and the creative director of the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) for the last 13 years, starred in theater and film. A truncated list of his theater credits include: “The River Niger,” “Great MacDaddy,” “A Day of Absence” and “Birdie Blue.” A Charles Weldon Memorial will be held at the Pershing Square Signature Theatre, located at 480 West 42nd Street, Manhattan, on February 24 at 7:30 pm. RSVPs necessary.

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A Harlem-based management consultant, Victoria can be reached at Victoria.horsford@gmail.com.