Call Me Senator Burris

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[What’s Going On]

Happenings and going-ons around New York and around the nation.

MAN OF THE WEEK: Last week the question confronting Roland Burris was “to be or not to be” the next Illinois U.S. Senator.

It now appears that Burris, 71, who was the first African American former Illinois Attorney General, recently named by Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich to replace Obama, will be seated by the Senate despite the initial diss by Democratic leader Harry Reid.

Reid had refused to see Burris on Capitol Hill because he did not have appropriate papers signed by Illinois Secretary of State. A day later Burris got an audience and a photo-op with a more conciliatory Reid. It was good to see Burris on Capitol Hill with a testosterone phalanx of Black advisors, two of whom were, Rhodes Scholar and former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke and Tim Wright; others were Black Caucus members.

Eminently qualified, Burris holds a JD from Howard University Law; in addition to Illinois Attorney General, he was once the Comptroller.

Burris’ Senate presence insures at least one Black in that chamber. Burris’ attorneys have a long-term strategy which includes initiation of a federal lawsuit if the Senate refuses to seat him. African Americans across the nation are studying this new federal government wrinkle: the U.S. Senate vs. Roland Burris standoff.

What a difference a week makes when the Senate Democrats and the media centered all of their attention on Burris as a Governor Blagojevich nominee who was ipso facto tainted, failing to consider his impeccable credentials.

At press time, the Illinois legislature began Governor Blagojevich impeachment hearings. Burris had to testify at the hearings and said that he told a Blago insider during the summer of 2008 that he was interested in Obama’s soon-to-be-vacated seat.

2008: Year In Review: Barack Hussein Obama was elected 44th President of the US on November 4, 2008, a first for an African American. He nominated Eric Holder as Attorney General, another first for an African American. The AG’S office dates back to early days of the U.S. republic and Susan Rice as US Ambassador to the UN, a first for a Black woman.

New York State gets is first African American Governor, David Paterson, when then-sitting Governor Elliot Spitzer was forced to resign after a scandal involving prostitutes. Senator Malcolm Smith of Queens, an African American, is the new New York State Senate Majority Leader. To win their support I wonder what Smith offered the three renegade Democratic State Senators – Ruben Diaz, Pedro Espada, Jr. and Carl Kruger - who wanted to derail his leadership bid.

It was mentioned that they will all head committees. The NYS Senate ratio is 32 Democrats to 29 Republicans. The NYU Law School Brennan Center has presented the results of its study “Still Broken,” which concludes that the NYS Legislature is among the nation’s most dysfunctional.

Harlem resident Bill Thompson, the New York City Comptroller, announced his interest and candidacy in the 2009 Mayoral race. Does he have what it takes? A former Wall Streeter, ex-president of the City’s Board of Education and a committed public servant with his fingers on the pulse of the city, he has what it takes.

Thompson poses a real and credible threat to Mayor Michael Bloomberg who plans to run for a third term, after recently muscling the City Council into scrapping the term limits law. Energetic, tactical, and intelligent, Thompson has already raised more than $5 million to wage this Herculean mayoral battle. Can he win? Yes, he can.

THE YEAR AHEAD: Where will NYS Senator Bill Perkins, the first NYC politico to support Obama’s presidential bid, report to work; Albany or DC? It now seems like a foregone conclusion that Caroline Kennedy will replace Hillary Clinton as a U.S. Senator. When will the stream of allegations leveled against Congressman Charles Rangel in the news media end?

The January 3 New York Times ran a conflict of interest story about Congressman Rangel support of legislation about tax breaks legislation which would benefit uber insurer AIG, which committed $10 million to the Charles Rangel CUNY Center.

BLACK ENTERPRISE: If fitness tops your New Year’s TO-DO list, then you must visit the Harlem-based CURVES, a women’s gym and fitness studio, located at 274 W 145 Street and Eighth Avenue. CURVES franchisees Janette Seraile and Pennell Somsen offer an unbeatable holiday membership special: $30 for the first 30 Days, when you mention the NY Beacon. CURVES is a machines-only regimen which focuses on weight loss and muscle tone solutions to health and fitness. Call 212.281.8821

CMEB4UGO is an internet ladies handbag and accessory business, headquartered in Harlem, owned by veteran e-commerce African American entrepreneur Paul Phillips. Bags and purses are available at competitive price points and holiday discounts. If handbags which are different, fashionista stylish, and cutting edge tickle your fancy, visit before visiting the local mall and/or department store. It can become addictive home shopping.

Linda Bailey Walker is founder/CEO of CUSTOM BEVERAGE SOLUTIONS, a division of Morgan Walker International, which offers water, soda, champagne, wine and sparkling cider and other drinks with consumer’s logo/label. Customized for all occasions, the Custom Beverage Solutions inventories BLING H20 Limited Edition and a new product, Commander-in-Chief drinks: water, wine, champagne. For inquiries and orders go to or call 212.608.0032 for your next special event.

Brooklyn boutique and art gallery HARRIET’S ALTER EGO, hosts its closing sale on Saturday, January 10, with a grandiose party with music and refreshments. All merchandise, including lots of spring apparel, will retail at $30 or less. Harriet’s Alter Ego is located at 293 Flatbush Avenue. RSVP at

The ABYSSINIAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ADC, and the HARLEM BUSINESS ALLIANCE, HBA, will present three cutting-edge Business Workshops this month, which will be held at the Harlem ADC offices at 4 West 125 Street, 3rd Floor. The two-hour workshops begin at 6:30 pm are titled Techniques In Marketing Strategy, on January 14; Effective Internet And Email Marketing, on January 21; and Alternative Financing For Your Business, on January 28. To make reservations for the free workshops, call Lawrence King at 646-442-6584 or email

2008 TRANSITIONS: Jazz trumpeter FREDDIE HUBBARD, 70, died on 12/29. He played and collaborated with other masters such as Miles, Monk, Cannonball, Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Herbie Hancock, a month after suffering a heart attack. A FREDDIE HUBBARD Memorial will be held on Saturday, January 10 at 1 pm, at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, located at 132 West 138 Street. Musical tributes will include performances and remarks by Killer Ray Appleton, Louis Hayes, Javon Jackson, Jeremy Pelt, Melba-Joyce, Phil Ranelin, Larry Ridley, James Spaulding, TC the Third, Terrell Stafford, McCoy Tyner, Buster Williams, Reggie Workman and many other still to be confirmed. Reverend Calvin Butts will officiate. For more info, email

Many loved ones joined the ancestors in 2008 such as vocalists Isaac Hayes Eartha Kitt, Miriam Makeba, and Odetta; filmmaker St. Clair Bourne; writer/actor Clayton Riley, actor Bernie Mac; Elaine Thompson and Victor Gobern; Obstetrician and Gynecologist Meredith Sirmans; music industry legends such as Dr. George T. Butler Jr., Sr.VP Columbia/Sony Records, Motown’s Chief Jheryl Busby and P.R. wiz Bob Jones; Oakland Tribune co-publisher Nancy Maynard; Harlemites Elise White, 99, Carol’s mom, Schomburg Plaza patriarch Charles Poteat, 76, Eddie’s dad; and journalist/community activist Cheikh Omar Ahmed.

ARTS AND CULTURE CALENDAR: Reverend Dr. Suzan Johnson (Rev Sujay) Cook’s HARLEM HALLELUJAH!, an hour-long nondenominational worship service at the Apollo Theatre, at 253 W 125 Street, on Sundays at 11 am, is a welcome addition to Harlem’s multiculturalism. Great Gospel, Moving Messages, Divine Dancing, faith and fellowship, all part of the HARLEM HALLELUJAH! menu as is Reverend Jesse Jackson, guest clergy, who joins Rev Sujay on Sunday January 11. Author of the book LIVE LIKE YOU ARE TOO BLESSED TO BE STRESSED, Rev Sujay is the first woman chaplain with NYPD and is the pastor of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Baptist Church. For more info, visit or call 718.231.1033.

Laurence Holder’s music/bio theatre piece, MONK, as in Thelonius, starring Rome Neal, completes its limited engagement at the Nuyorican Poets Café at 236 East 3 Street in Manhattan on January 11. An 2008 Audelco Awardee, MONK owes much of its magic to its music director, jazz great Bill Lee. For reservations, call 212.465-3137.

The Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People, CEMOTAP, and the Family and Friends of Dr. Mutulu Shakur return to Harlem’s Salem United Methodist Church on Sunday, January 11 as sponsors of another debate IS THE BIBLE GOOD FOR BLACK PEOPLE? YES OR NO. Debate roster notables include Salem’s Sr. Pastor Reverend Allen Pickney; Omowale Clay of the December 12 Movement; Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council; Attorney Joseph Mack, new testament scholar; Inez Baron, NYS Assemblywoman; Reverend Conrad Tillard of Brooklyn’s Nazarene Congregational Church He was formerly known as Minister Conrad Muhammad; Dr. James Conyers; Dr. Rosalind Jeffries, art historian and Kemetic Scholar. A panel of Elders and Youths add to the debate, including Jitu Weusi, founder of the Uhura Sasa School; Marimbi Ani, educator/author of “Yurusu”; Minister Yusef Hafeez Muhammad of Mosque #7; Betty Dopson, CEMOTAP co-chair; journalists Playthell Benjamin and Bob Law; youth poetess Autumn Ashante and her dad Batim Ashante, warrior/educator; and Ollie McClean, a former Congressional candidate. Dr. James McIntosh, African-American psychiatrist and CEMOTAP co-chair, will reprise his role as debate moderator. For more info, contact 347. 531.8936.

Beloved comedian and syndicated radio host Steve Harvey dons the cover of Jet Magazine’s January 19-26 double issue, which coincides with the launch of his first book, a women empowerment primer titled ACT LIKE A LADY, THINK LIKE A MAN: WHAT MEN REALLY THINK ABOUT LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS, INTIMACY AND COMMITMENT. To be sure, this title is provocative and promises invaluable content. The incorrigible, thrice-married Harvey knows a thing or two about the subject.

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