The music, the smiles, the beautiful costumes, the bands marching up and down the streets, the copious amounts of food & drink, the steel drum performers and the cool island tunes blaring . . . this is the essence of the Caribbean carnival. Although this jovial occasion may appear simplistic in execution, there is a rich history of pride, resilience and triumph embedded in these celebrations. Popular in West Indian countries, such as Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, carnival is as much about self-expression as it is about showing ancestral pride.
So, as a carnival enthusiast, what do I do when I can’t make it to the Spice Island, the Pearl of the Antilles or the Land of the Hummingbird for my Caribbean carnival fix? I experience the Caribbean […]
As a teen, I led a black history trivia team. Weeks of cramming facts about the great African Americans initiated my obsession for saluting the men and women who sacrificed to make all of our lives better. I describe my vacations or jaunts as a chance to “touch” the history makers.
I search through a book titled Day Trips from New York City and grab my bright red moleskine to sketch out a list of notable persons connected to certain destinations. A few summers ago, I trekked to Hudson Valley’s stately Kyuit, the John D. Rockfeller Estate and Phillisburg Manor, a 300-year-old property that pays homage to the enslaved Africans who lived there by maintaining a garden of vegetables and herbs. Like the North Star, key words point me toward […]
In 2002, at the age of 63, my grandmother, Marion James, embarked on a cross-country Amtrak train ride, from Los Angeles to Newark, NJ, with my father to spend her final days surrounded by family. Here, my father gives a first-person account of their emotional three-day journey — and how her dying wish changed his life forever.
I moved to LA from New Jersey to help out Mommy when her health started to decline. When I got there, she was sluggish — didn’t have the get-up-and-go she used to. A van picked her up almost every day to take her to doctor appointments. But, despite not feeling well, she would always manage to have my favorite meals — spicy spaghetti and meatballs or a juicy homemade hamburger — ready for […]
Where there is no vision, people will perish. — Dr. Bernice A. King, January 20, 2014
I arrived before 9:30 AM, and Ebenezer Baptist Church was already flooded. I struggled to find one of the last seats left, in the last center row. I spent my first twenty minutes just breathing in the atmosphere. I saw local grandparents with their grandchildren, dignitaries like Representative John Lewis in reserved seating, and Bernice A. King, CEO of the King Center, sitting at my twelve o’clock. She looked like a perfect fusion of her father, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and mother, Coretta Scott King. It was a surreal experience, and I was left wondering why it had taken me so long to get down to Atlanta for a commemorative service. After all […]
The Roaring Twenties ushered in a prosperous time when jazz flourished, and modern young women known as “flappers” wore flashy attire and popularized boisterous dances like the Charleston. Of note, during this post-World War I era, the Pullman Company, whose founder George Pullman, designed the sleeping car in the 1880s in Chicago, earned the distinction of being the largest single employer of African American men. Both proud and professional, these men were known individually as the Pullman Porter, the concierge of first class passenger rail service. These refined men of service took on the responsibility of overseeing sleeping cars (a railroad car with accommodations for sleeping). This included “making down” berths (bunk beds) at night and “making up” berths into seating in the morning, assisting passengers with their luggage […]