Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Arts and Culture

When James Baldwin left America and moved into a comfy home in the South of France several decades ago, he did not aim to start a war.

But that is  the situation these days. About two decades after Baldwin died of stomach cancer at age 63 in his home in the South of France,  a white, female American novelist in Paris is raising funds to buy Baldwin’s six-acre home, convert it into a writers’ retreat, and dedicate it to the writer who wrote about many controversial topics during his lifetime. The problem is she does not have the blessing of Baldwin’s family, who mainly live in Baltimore where Baldwin grew up.

On the one hand, Baldwin’s niece Alisha Karena-Smart asked,  “Who gets to represent James Baldwin’s legacy and who gets to speak about who he was?”

On the other hand, the white female writer, who wants to turn Baldwin’s home into a type of shrine, moved to the South of France, and exercised squatter’s rights by living in Baldwin’s dusty home for a week or so, in an effort to buy the property, “I cannot believe I have the privilege to be alive at this moment on earth when James Baldwin’s house is in danger and I happen to have the skills and temperament to do this work,” said Shannon Cain, a novelist.

This means  while Baldwin’s relatives and a handful of mostly white writers fight over the home where Baldwin lived and died, the structure still does not even have a plaque with his name. The wing where Baldwin lived was torn down a few years ago. The remaining two houses on the property are in disrepair; the once expansive gardens are unkempt. Still, a local real estate developer wants to buy the plot that the Baldwin family lost control of more than a decade ago, and construct  apartment buildings and a swimming pool on the site.

Cain, who described how she squatted in the house, suffered, and now plans to   draw a salary from the fund-raising, said, “A successful nonprofit needs a professional running this place.”

While Baldwin had a habit of looking  surprised, even flustered in old, Black-and-white newsreels that often spoke of  raical angst. Baldwin grew up as the son of a Baltimore minister. His mother remarried, moved to New York and remarried.

His stepfather was cruel. Baldwin, an  expatriate African-American novelist, was only 24 when he left New York with just $40 in his pocket. The chain-smoking writer who scribbled on a yellow legal pad died of stomach cancer at age 63. He lived in the house in Paris with his Swiss lover, Lucien Happersberger,

Now a local developer wants at least 9 million euros (about $9.5 million) for the property, according to news reports. Several African-American artists who have recently visited Baldwin’s home are saying, “You can’t take this from me.”

The mayor of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Joseph Le Chapelain, who signed the building permit last year, said the project was out of his hands. “It’s a private company,” he said. “The city has no power over it.”

But what would Baldwin say about his home today?  He worked for a short while with the railroad, moved to Greenwich Village,and worked for a number of years as a freelance writer. He published his first novel, “Go Tell it On The Mountain,” in 1953.He created  moving prose and even appeared on the cover of Time magazine. And while he held parties for many famous people at his Paris home, he never bought it.

The property has been acquired by a real estate developer who plans to demolish what’s left of the house, subdivide the land, and build luxury villas.

Currently artists  aim to  spur a general realization of the house’s value, and restore it, before the bulldozers destroy what is left of it and the garden.  In January 2015, Harlem named a site after Baldwin. The site is located between E. 128th St. and Madison and Fifth Avenues.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

Oxon Hill, MD
While married to the D.C. sniper, John Allen Muhammad, Mildred Muhammad was intimidated into silence about the domestic abuse she suffered. Her 2009 memoir, Scared Silent, was widely acclaimed, and she now returns with the follow-up.

I’m Still Standing: Crawling Out of The Darkness Into The Light covers the compelling events during and after the conviction and execution of her former husband. Through the eyes of their embattled mother, we learn what was going through the minds of the three young children as they learned their father was going to be executed for his crimes in the October 2002 sniper killings that took place in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. 

I’m Still Standing is a gritty, raw, and emotional account beginning with Mildred’s choice to turn to isolation as a way of protecting herself and her children. As she triumphs over the external and internal systems putting her in a place of fear and isolation, Mildred Muhammad’s story glows with resilience, strength and faith in God. Now she can say with confidence, “I’m still standing!”

Author, speaker, advocate and survivor, Mildred Muhammad has risen to become a voice for other victims and survivors, especially for the 80% who do not have physical scars to prove they are victims.

She has received many awards such as a Special Commendation presented by the Office on Violence Against Women, the Maya Angelou Still I Rise Award, the Shirley Chisholm Woman of Courage Award and the Redbook Strength & Spirit Heroes Award, as well as multiple awards from the military community.

Available online everywhere and at the author’s website:

Three major bands will share headline duties at the annual UMOJA Festival on Saturday, May 27 at Portsmouth Pavilion.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

The Stylistics had 12 straight Top-10 hits, and their debut album was the first to ever produce six hit songs. From Philadelphia, the band’s hits include “You Are Everything,” “Betcha By Golly, Wow,” “I’m Stone in Love With You,” “Break Up to Make Up” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New.” Of all their peers, the Stylistics were the smoothest and sweetest soul group of their era.

The Delfonics’ unique style of singing and their patented dance steps capture the fancy of popular music followers both Black and white, making them a stellar attraction at rock concerts, theaters and on the night club circuit. Their breakthrough song “LA LA Means I Love You” began a steady string of hits including, “You Get Yours I’ll Get Mine,” “I’m Sorry,” “Break Your Promise” and “Ready Or Not.”  “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time” won a Grammy for the top Soul hit of 1970.

The Manhattans are recognized for their timeless romantic ballads. They had eight songs in the R&B Top 10 between 1973 and 1978, with the composition “Kiss And Say Good Bye” going to #1 on both the R&B and Pop Charts in 1976 and placing in the top five in England and Australia. “Shining Star” made it to #5 on the Pop Charts, staying on the charts for 14 straight weeks.  Other hits include: “One Life to Live,” “There’s No Me Without You,” “Don’t Take Your Love,” “Hurt,” “I Kinda Miss You,” “It Feels So Good to Be Loved So Bad,” “We Never Danced to a Love Song,” “Am I Losing You,” and “Crazy.”

Tickets go on sale Friday, April 21 at 10 a.m. at the Pavilion Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations, charge by phone at (800) 745-3000 or purchase online at

Hello and welcome to the Tidewater Bridge Unit (TBU).
Opening Leads at Notrump – Quiz. The bidding has been: 1NT – 3NT. What do you lead when you hold:

1. ♠ A986 ♥ QJ95 ♦ 82 ♣ 875
2. ♠ Q972 ♥ 75 ♦ K2 ♣ A8763
3. ♠ QJ107 ♥76 ♦ K3 ♣ AJ1064
4. ♠ 72 ♥ QJ1073 ♦ K72 ♣ A82


1. Lead the ♥Q, the top of the broken sequence.

2. Lead the ♣6, fourth from your longest and strongest suit. You hope partner has help in clubs and declarer doesn’t have many clubs so you can take your long tricks.

3. Lead the ♣10 from the interior sequence. The ♠Q would also rate as a good lead. However, after you push out declarer’s ♠A and ♠K, you may win only one or two tricks. You hope the clubs will give you three or four tricks.

4. This is an easy one – lead the top of a sequence.

Winning Pairs
April 11, 2017
Section A Game

Delores J. Burney – Rosemarie
Adrienne Ivory – Barbara Whitfield
Olethia Everett – Lawrence Owes
Grace W. Setzer – Betty L. Warren
Aldis Raymond – Lillye Holley
Wilma Horne – Cindy Burrell-Jones
Gloria Maddux – Elva N. Taylor

Winning Pairs
April 12, 2017
Section A Game

Aldis Raymond – Leon C. Ragland
Oneida Lacey – Rosemary Whitehurst
Barbara Whitfield – Adrienne Ivory
Jennifer Douglas – Lawrence Owes
Delores J. Burney – Gloria Maddux
Olethia Everett – Wilma Horne
Lillye Holley – Harold M. Kiefer


Tuesday, Apr. 25
Cooke-Suburban Bridge game
10:45 a.m. – 3 p.m.
$4 – $5

Wednesday, Apr. 26
Bon-Ton bridge game
10:45 a.m. – 3 p.m.
$4 – $5

June 2
ABA Nationwide Game
Norfolk, Virginia

August 17 – 26
ABA Summer
National Tournament
Lombard, Illinois

September 15-17
TBU Grade “A“ Game
Chesapeake, Virginia

All activities, unless otherwise noted, are located at the Berkley Senior Center, 925 S. Main Street, Norfolk, Va.
For additional information on classes, games, or tournaments, please call Delores Burney at (757) 321-0825 or Lawrence Owes at (757) 553-2601.

When L. Frank Baum published his classic novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in 1900, he likely had no idea that the subsequent 1902 Broadway musical adaptation, “The Wizard of Oz,” would one day receive frequent productions featuring exclusively African-American casts. The latest local rendition, jointly staged by Norfolk State University and the Virginia Stage Company, is a colorful, inspired “The Wiz,” blessed with a conspicuously gifted cast.

Staged at the historic Wells Theater and co-directed by the VSC’s Patrick Mullins and NSU’s Anthony Stockard, this “Wiz” is decidedly afro-centric, sweetly laden with subtle African and African-American themes, manifested in scenic designs, choreography, and make-up. A towering African mask predominates the Wiz’s lair and numerous performers’ faces are painted in a fashion that harkens back to tribal Africa.

And then there’s the talent, the directors having elicited performances rich in expressive African-American colloquialisms and culture. The cast delivers, giving naturalistic performances to wholly fantastical characters. Prominent amongst them of course are Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion.

Alana Houston, who splits her studies as a senior at Elizabeth City’s Northeastern High School and a freshman at NSU, makes for quite an endearing and alluring Dorothy. She is at once appropriately starry-eyed, feisty and compassionate. This young woman can also really belt out a tune.

Though the Scarecrow had been suspended on a post for quite a long spell, he appears to have found fleet feet amazingly fast, only stumbling a time or two. Still, Matthew Jackson’s portrayal of the affable, charismatic straw man remains true. You like him instantly.

While Jonathan Cooper’s Tin Man may have initially gone wanting for oil, you sensed he had found a fully charged battery eons ago. His performance is entirely electric, lightning especially having taken up residence in his tap shoes.

As the comical, rotund cowardly Lion, Darius Nelson is choice, his comic timing impeccable. The actor enjoys his assignment and it shows.

Jackson, Cooper and Nelson are all also talented vocalists and excel in their individual numbers. When they join Houston for the popular “Ease on Down the Road” and “Who Do You Think You Are,” however, you feel they are taking a journey beyond that which throws their characters together.

Other notable performances include NSU senior Meredith Noel as Addaperle, Broadway veteran Laiona Michelle as Evilene, and NSU junior Indya Jackson as The Wiz. The statuesque, seasoned Michelle is deliciously evil, sensuality reeking. She is commanding and you love to hate her and hate it when she disappears. Departing senior Noel continues to show extraordinary range. She appears comfortable in any skin and adapts to character like a chameleon.

Mullins and Stockard cast against type by using Indya Jackson in a traditionally male role. I have seen other females portray the great and powerful Oz. It can be a risky enterprise, demanding that the audience dare to greatly suspend belief. Jackson is truly a gifted performer, but she was hampered somewhat by audio challenges that taunted her opening number. It’s certain to improve.

“The Wiz” is generally performed on a stage much larger than the Wells proscenium offering. Yet, the directors have effectively captured the magic that the production demands, packaging it in a sensory feast of color, sight and sound and a huge cast, much too large to mention all here, uniformly dedicated to having you join them on their wonderful journey to Oz. The production continues through April 30.

By Terrance Afer-Andersn
Arts and Culture Columnist

The Virginia Arts Festival will present Brooklyn-based dance company Urban Bush Women (UBW) in the world premiere of Hair and Other Stories on Saturday, April 22 at 8 p.m. at the Attucks Theatre.

Urban Bush Women’s Hair and Other Stories addresses how one’s self-image is formed through perceptions of family, history, identity, and values. This often humorous, sometimes poignant, always compelling piece combines dance with storytelling, and builds on conversations with the audience.

The new work has roots in the past: Hair and Other Stories grows out of a 2001 multi-media piece exploring race, gender, and cultural identity. “With the original work, we set out to explore the place of hair in women’s lives, and its relationship to ideas about beauty, social position, heritage, and self-esteem,” says Urban Bush Women Artistic Director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

In keeping with UBW’s core value of community engagement, the company hosted “Hair Parties” in private and public spaces, which not only provided performance material, but also created a framework for dialogue that went beyond the performance itself. The topic of hair offered a “way in” to issues like race, social status, gender, sexuality, and economics.

“It was a story that would not let me rest,” says Zollar, who notes that the issues that arose in the creation of Hair Stories persist, as does the need to continue the conversation. So she decided to write a new chapter.

The company is polishing the new work in a process that will take them from their own studios in Brooklyn to the historic Attucks Theatre in Norfolk, where they will put the finishing touches on the world premiere.

It’s an opportunity that Virginia Arts Festival Artistic Director Robert Cross finds intensely exciting, and one in keeping with the Festival’s own mission. “To present this bold company for the first time in a space like the Attucks Theatre, which echoes with so much artistry and history – that’s a chance of a lifetime,” says Cross.

Tickets are $20-$35, available online at, by phone at (757) 282-2822 or at the Virginia Arts Festival box, 440 Bank St., Norfolk (10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday).

The Chesapeake – Va. Beach Links, Inc. will host “Making A Praise Connection” on Saturday, April 29, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Chesapeake Conference Center.

This non-denominational Inspirational event will feature as guest speaker TV Judge Mablean Ephraim who is best known for her roles in Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, and as the former presiding Judge on FOX TV’s “Divorce Court”  for seven seasons.

Today, she can be seen as the presiding judge of Justice with Judge Mablean which airs in broadcast syndication Monday-Friday in major U.S. media markets, Canada, South Africa, and Australia, covering a range of court cases related to life and the law.

Judge Mablean, who is a member of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ and member of the Executive Board of the Women’s Department – COGIC, attributes her success in life to God, her parents, her family, and close friends.

The proceeds will support scholarships for deserving students and community service projects.

For tickets and more information, contact Chapter members.

About 200 guests gathered at the downtown Slover Library on Saturday night, April 1 for the inaugural Metallic Gala showcasing original fashions by African American designers. The event was hosted by the Friends of the Norfolk Public Library and was a fundraiser for literacy services and multicultural activities presented by the city’s library system. Metallic Gala was produced by Mikasa La’Charles with Ron Cooke and Patricia Rountree and featured the colorful and creative designs of seven persons from the local area, Richmond and Washington, D.C. Each designer’s collection displayed custom garments for both men and women in either black, white or any metallic hue (gold, silver, bronze, etc.).

On Saturday, March 25, 2017, two progressive organizations were at Norfolk’s Booker T. Washington High School for a program highlighting dialogue on education issues from youth perspectives.

XQ Institute, an organization dedicated to rethinking high school in America, and Youth Speaks, the convener of the Brave New Voices Network and the country’s leading youth spoken word and literary arts organization, presented Brave New Voices #RethinkHighSchool 2017.  The Norfolk program was part of a 20-city tour.

Local representation included the young people of Teens With a Purpose who hosted a performance and panel highlighting key issues in education in Norfolk and Hampton Roads as the opening event for 11th Annual PHAT Conference.

Rethink High School is designed to provide the opportunity for current, and recently graduated high school students to give their input on how to make high school better.
Young people in attendance reimagined school and spoke out and were heard by other students, teachers, administrators, legislators, community leaders and youth in Norfolk and from all around the country.  “In history, the architects of transformation have always been the young.  #RETHINKHIGHSCHOOL is their united blueprint for change,” said  Deirdre Love, Executive Director of Teens With a Purpose.

A youth poet, Devon “Imagine” Carter of Maury High School, identified the suspensions rate and referrals to law enforcement agencies as one of the areas that need rectification. U.S. Department of Education data analyzed by the Center for Public Integrity show that Virginia schools in a single year referred students to law enforcement agencies at a rate nearly three times the national rate.  

Earlier in March, Teens With a Purpose, conducted writing workshops for Juveniles in the Norfolk Detention Center. Their voices and poems were produced and performed so they too were a part of the conversation.  

The teen town hall gave youth the ability to address the issues, but equally important, reimagine high school in a way that is innovative and specific to this community’s needs. A panel comprised of both youth and adults were asked to respond to the poems with one question in mind – What are you going to do about it? Panelists included Delegate Daun Hester, Michael Berlucchi – Community Engagement, The Chrysler Museum & President, Hampton Roads Pride, Dr. Ronald Holloman – Assistant Principal, Hampton City Schools, Tamele Hobson – Lawyer and students from Norfolk, Suffolk and Chesapeake.

Some suggestions that were made include building community gardens on vacant city lots to improve the quality of the food provided to students, eliminating Study Packets, including more current events and history classes that reflect the student populations and providing more student feedback to the administration.

 The 20-city tour began in Washington, DC and traveled to Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA and New York, NY. before its stop in Norfolk. It will continue through June 2017 in the following cities and is open to the public and press: Baton Rouge, LA, St. Louis, MO, Boston, MA, Flint, MI, Tucson, AZ, Des Moines, IA, Nashville, TN, Houston, TX, Sacramento, CA, Asheville, N.C., Lancaster, PA, and Seattle, WA.

The following lesson is presented to enhance your play of the hand ability and assist you in successful bidding of and making your contract. Analyze the hand. Record your answers. Compare your responses to the answers provided below.
Can you make the contract? North (N) and South (S) are in a 4 Spade Contract. South is Declarer, North is Dummy, and West has the opening lead.

♠ K43
♥ KQJ2
♦ 764
♣ 432

West East
♠ 976 ♠ 108
♥ 987 ♥ A1063
♦ K1082 ♦ QJ9
♣ J97 ♣ Q1086

♠ AQJ52
♥ 54
♦ A53
♣ AK5

1. How many points in each hand?
2. How many tricks have you contracted to take?
3. What should West lead?
4. After South wins the opening lead, what is the plan?


1. N=9 points; S=18 points; E=9 points; W=4 points
2. 10 tricks
3. ♦2—fourth-best from the longest and strongest suit )
4. (A diamond lead by West will knock out South’s Ace and expose two losers in that suit. Because South must also lose the ♥A, South can’t afford to lose any more tricks. Unfortunately, South has a third-round club loser. If South plans to draw trumps in three rounds [or four is necessary] and then play hearts, eventually discarding the losing club on a high heart, the plan is flawed. If South pulls three rounds of trumps and then plays a heart, the opponents will surely duck the ♥A on the first round of the suit. When the opponents win the next round of hearts, South will be cut off from dummy, with no way to get to the established heart winner. Here’s the plan: after South wins the opening lead with the ♦A, cash the ♠A and play a low heart to dummy. If the opponent with the ♥A ducks, play a trump to the Queen and play another heart. The opponents will win and cash their diamond winners, but the ♠K is still in dummy, a vital entry to the good heart.)

Winning Pairs
March 29, 2017
Unit Game

Lawrence Owes – Barbara Whitfield
Olethia Everett – Wilma Horne
Harold M. Kiefer – Elva N. Taylor
Oneida Lacey – Jennifer Douglas

Happy Birthday To:

Otha Wright – April 15th


June 2
ABA Nationwide Game
Norfolk, Virginia

August 17 – 26
ABA Summer
National Tournament
Lombard, Illinois

September 15-17
TBU Grade “A“ Game
Chesapeake, Virginia

All activities, unless otherwise noted, are located at the Berkley Senior Center, 925 S. Main Street, Norfolk, Va.

For additional information on classes, games, or tournaments, please call Delores Burney at (757) 321-0825 or Lawrence Owes at (757) 553-2601.

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