Alvin Ailey Kicks Off Year 50

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The ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER celebrates 50 years as one of America’s cultural ambassadors to the world, one of its enduring arts legacies. American Express presents the Alvin Ailey Dance season , under the Artistic Direction of Judith Jamison and associate director Masazumi Chaya

[What's Going On]

It is official, on December 1, President-elect Barack Obama nominated his national security team, which is eclectic and diverse.

It includes US Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, retains his title; Former judge and Deputy US Attorney General, Eric Holder as Attorney General, which is a first for an African American; Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano, as Secretary of Homeland Security, which, I believe, needs to be restructured; Dr. Susan Rice, former U.S Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, as Ambassador to the UN, a first for an African-American woman. Obama restores that post to Cabinet level; and General Jim Jones, USMC (Retired) former Allied Commander in Europe as National Security Advisor.

Two days later, Governor Bill Richardson was nominated Commerce Secretary. He will no doubt work closely with Obama’s Treasury and the Economic Advisory Team announced last week team. Bronx Boro President Adolfo Carrion is rumored to be on the Transition team’s HUD Secretary short list. Surprisingly, no intelligence chiefs were identified in the initial Obama security lineup.

Life for Barack Obama is as good as it gets aside from minor irritations by NJ lawyer Leo Donofrio who has petition the US Supreme Court challenging Obama as a legitimate US citizen because of his Kenyan dad’s place of origin. Same legal nut also maintained McCain’s citizenship because he was born in the Canal Canal Zone, then a US possession.

Hillary Clinton’s elevation to Secretary of State focuses the spotlight on NYS Governor David Paterson, who names her replacement. His lips are sealed about long or short listees. He confirmed that he would not name himself to the post. Possible Clinton successors list is colorfully diverse with names such as NYS Senator Bill Perkins, Congresswoman Nydia Valezquez, and NYS Attorney General Andrew Cuomo being bandied about.

Life for Barack Obama is as good as it gets aside from minor impediments like the NY lawyer Leo Donofrio who has petitioned the US Supreme Court to challenge Obama as a legitimate US citizen because of his Kenyan dad’s place of origin. Same legal nut also argued that McCain was ineligible to be president because he was born in the Canal Zone, then a US possession. Donofrio wants to defer the Electoral College vote on December 15, which in effect makes Obama the most powerful man on the planet, effective January 20!

The Obama inaugural is already a big business phenom in progress. It made the cover of last week’s NYT and was the subject of a Sunday, 11/30 NYT Travel section piece. There are 90,000 rooms, from affordable housing to high-end lodgings at hotels, homes, campsites, from Philadelphia to Williamsburg, VA for inaugural travelers. Visit, Travel, "A Strategy for the Big Day" by Michelle Higgins,;;,, and

The Obama Victory gift that does not stop giving in humanitarian ways. For example, an African American, Virginia-based businessman Earl Stafford, accepted the J.W. Marriott Hotel’s $1 million build-your-own-ball offer, which includes 300 rooms, four suites, $200,000 in food and drink and a premier site to view the Pennsylvania Avenue Inaugural Parade route. He ran with the ball on November 5; and he prepared to spend another $600,000 for a January 19 Dr. MLK Day breakfast, a luncheon and two 1/20 balls at the hotel.

Stafford’s Inaugural Gala is for America’s rich and famous, but for its disadvantaged, people who are terminally ill, wounded soldiers and the socially and economically indigent. The cost of gowns and tuxedos for attendees and hired beauticians will be a part of the Stafford Foundation’s package. The National Urban League and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies will assist Stafford with the invitation list. The son of a Baptist minister, an USAF vet who gets chills when he hears the National Anthem, Stafford, founder of UNITECH, a company which provides weapons simulation systems to the military, told the Washington Post. "We have gotten away from the core values that made America great." Read full story in 12/4 WAPO, "The Benefactor Of The Ball; Va. Man Spends $1 Million on Inaugural Package For Disadvantaged; The People’s Inauguration."

The empress of Daytime TV business mogul/philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, announced that she and her audience will be an eyewitness to history. Her show will broadcast from DC for a week to cover the inauguration and related events. Her first DC show will air on Dr. King’s birthday.

I learned via Africa/African-American Diaspora grapevine that the Kenya Embassy to the U.S. and the Corporate Council on Africa are organizing a black tie Grand Inaugural Ball for Africans in America on January 20, which will held at the palatial Marriott Gateway Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia, a stone’s throw from D.C. The Marriott Gateway’s ballroom accommodates 1000 guests. Inaugural ball tickets are priced at $200 per person and are probably sold out while you read this info. Hosting a 2009 President Inaugural Ball is a first for African emissaries, in the history of the U.S. republic. Why the Kenya Embassy host? Kenya is President-elect Barack Obama’s paternal homeland.

Closer to home in NYC, a more cerebral event, sponsored by the family and friends of Dr. Mtulu Shakur, billed as the GREAT DISCUSSION/DEBATE IN HARLEM, THE OBAMA ELECTION, WAS IT GOOD FOR BLACK PEOPLE? will convene on December 14 at 3 pm at St. Mary’s Church at 521 West 126 Street, between Amsterdam and Old Broadway. Moderated by psychiatrist James McIntosh of CEMOTAP, panelists include James Turner, Cornell University, NO; Dr. Leonard Jeffries, CUNY, YES; Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz, NBPP, YES; Author Marimba Ani, NO; Viola Plummer, December 12 Movement, YES. Dr. Adelaide Sanford, Dr. Clinton Crawford and Black Star News publisher Milton Allimadi, Nana Camille Yarborough, Dr. Donald Smith are new recruits to the panel. Admission is free. Let the fireworks begin as this disparate group of African-American and African scholars weigh in on America’s 44th President, an African American. As far as debates go, it doesn’t get any better than this motley group! Where else would you get this disparate collection of Black thinker gratis? For more info, call 718.322.8454 or email

THE HARLEM BUSINESS ALLIANCE hosted is 28th Anniversary Awards Gala on Wednesday, December 3 at Columbia University’s Low Library Rotunda, 116 Street, between Amsterdam and Broadway, from 7-10 pm.

The 2008 Awardees were the Honorable David Paterson, NYS Governor, Deborah Wright, CEO Carver Bancorp; Sheena Wright, President of the Abyssinian Development Corporation; and Bob Slade, Bob Pickett, and James Mtume, KISS-FM co-hosts of the OPEN LINE SHOW. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, CEO of the HipHop Summit Action Network is event keynoter; and Marvell Scott, MD, WABC-TV Medical Director of Performance Health is event MC.

The ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER celebrates 50 years as one of America’s cultural ambassadors to the world, one of its enduring arts legacies. American Express presents the Alvin Ailey Dance season , under the Artistic Direction of Judith Jamison and associate director Masazumi Chaya, at Manhattan’s City Center on West 55 Street, between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue, in Manhattan, which begins its month-long run on December 5.

The MORRISANIA DOLL SOCIETY presents a Black Doll Show and Sale at the Harlem Landmark Gallery at 467 West 144 Street, west of St. Nicholas Avenue, on December 6, from noon to 6 pm. The offerings will include a variety of unique antique, vintage, mass produced and fine art Black dolls. Founded in 2000 to bring Black doll collectors and artists together, the MORRISANIA DOLL SOCIETY preserves the history and culture of African American doll making. For more information call 917.655.8531 or email

On December 10, FROM 6- 8 pm, the Hue-Man Bookstore on Frederick Douglass Boulevard on 124 Street, will host a book signing celebration for YOLELE! RECIPES FROM THE HEART OF SENEGAL. Unlike your traditional book signing, food and wine sampling are part of the evening’s festivities. Lovingly written by Senegalese chef/restaurateur Pierre Thiam, founder of Brooklyn’s popular African eatery and entertainment hub, Le Grand Dakar, YOLELE! celebrates a multiplicity of food traditions - Senegalese, West African, Middle Passage, and New World Creole. YOLELE! is a wonderful Christmas/Kwanzaa gift, which retails for $21.95. Moreover, you can taste a bit of Brooklyn’s Senegalese fare in the heart of Harlem.

HCCI (Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, a consortium of about 100 Harlem based churches, committed to a holistic neighborhood change) hosts its 11th annual LIGHTS OF HOPE TREELIGHTING CEREMONY, on December 11 at the Jackie Robinson Park and Recreation Center, 146 Street and Bradhurst Avenue, Harlem, from 5-7 pm. A celebration of lights, hope, food and fellowship, it’s one of my favorite Harlem holiday pleasures. Admission is free, but Light of Hope donations are greatly appreciated. Join HCCI executive director Lucille McEwen and her staff at their LIGHTS OF HOPE community gala. For more info, call Lights of Hope Hotline at 212.281.4887, X121.

Trombonist/composer Craig Harris’ GOD’S TROMBONES, a musical performance piece, adapted from the James Weldon Johnson 1927 Harlem Renaissance classic of the same title, a compendium of poems, based on inspirational sermons by itinerant Black preachers, directed by Avery Brooks, will be presented at the Harlem Gatehouse at 150 Convent Avenue at 135 Street, on the CCNY campus, on December 5, 6,7. Tickets are $30. Use code WTGCHS for a 20% discount. For more info call 212.281.9240, X19/20.

Milton Allimadi and his Black Star News BSN recently hosted its Annual Dinner Awards Gala and celebrated the Obama at Harlem’s tony event space, the Nubian Heritage Room. The BSN honorees – all business, media and community leaders - identified for their commitment to excellence include Robin Verges, Sr. VP Rubenstein Associates; Deputy Manhattan Borough President Rosemonde Pierre-Louis; Voza Rivers, Executive Director of the Harlem Arts Alliance; David Lipscomb, VP Sovereign Bank; Jared McAllister, Daily News Columnist, Kenneth Theobalds, VP, Governmental Affairs Entergy Co.; Gregory Joseph, Deputy Director S.H.A.R.E; Amsterdam News Managing Editor Nayaba Arinde and Columnist Herb Boyd; Marcia Sells, SVP Columbia University; Desiree Dancy, NY Times, VP Diversity and Inclusion; Lesley Pinckney, Essence Magazine; Shirley Jenkins, Municipal Credit Union; and to the family of the late Andy Cooper, founding publisher of the City Sun newspaper, whose widow Jocelyn accepted the award accompanied by her daughter and grandson. The acceptance speeches were rife with info that colors New York City Black history , which I hope was videotaped.

BSN publisher/editor Milton Allimadi, the Uganda-born, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism alum, whose writer credits run the gamut from the City Sun to the NYT , was a gracious and informative host who doubled as the GALA master of ceremony. About 200 partygoers attended the BSN Awards festivities, many of them are Harlem paparazzi and cognoscente like Dr. Lenora Fulani, former Harlem BUF businessman Kermit Eady; WHCR Radio host Jeanne Parnell, businessman Fritz McLymont and Network Journal editor Rosalind McLymont.

They wined and dined on a sumptuous Buffet spread appealing to carnivores and vegans alike. People table hopped and networked with facility. Entertainment was provided by Cuban Chico Pons and his multicultural quintet, whose mellifluous, pulsating salsa rhythms were redolent of traditional Congo party music.

The Awards Gala was an elegant Pan African evening, one of the best this fall. In closing Mr. Allimadi indicated that plans were afoot for a BSN Inaugural Party in DC. The spirit of the Obama victory coupled with his audacity of hope permeated the evening.



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