carib 1356-202x300Caribbean Fever Irie Jamboree Music Festival has announced the official line-up for the International-themed opening night of the three-day festival, a premier celebration of Caribbean cultures, cuisine, fashion and musicThe event is scheduled to take place during Labor Day Weekend on Friday, August 30 through Sunday, September 1, 2013 at the landmark Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, New York.  Iconic artists from the French-speaking Caribbean Diaspora slated to perform on Friday’s “International Night” include Wyclef Jean,Kassav, Tabou Combo and Djakout #1. The festival’s Saturday and Sunday night performances will feature big-name Reggae, Dancehall, Calypso, Soca and World Beat superstars.

As a lead-up to the famed West Indian American Labor Day Carnival Parade in Brooklyn that attracts over three million participants, the Caribbean Fever Irie Jamboree Music Festival will be a highlight of the Labor Day Weekend cultural activities for New York’s vibrant Caribbean-American communities.  The French-Caribbean musical genres of Zouk and Kompa will be taking center stage during the festival’s opening “International Night” with powerhouse performers.

Award-winning and multi-platinum musician and producer Wyclef Jean will headline the opening night’s festivities.  One of the world’s most talented artists, Haitian-born Jean has risen to the top of the American and international music scene over the past two decades as front man of the musical trio Fugees and during his solo career. Jean’s April Showers mix tape was released in April 2013 as fans await his upcoming album The Carnival Begins.  Jean is guaranteed to electrify the Caribbean Fever Irie Jamboree Music Festival audience with his eclectic mix of world carnival rhythms, Hip-Hop and Caribbean island vibes.

Hailed for their dynamic concert productions, the 2013 Caribbean Fever Irie Jamboree Music Festival will mark Kassav's return to New York City after two years.  For over 30 years, the beloved show-stoppers have popularized the Zouk-style of music originating from Guadeloupe and Martinique.  With a new album released in May 2013 entitled Sonjé, Kassav’s French Antillean Creole lyrics and beats captivate loyal global fans. The showcase of legendary musicians will also include the original ambassadors of Haitian Kompa music - Tabou Combo. The internationally-renowned band has taken Kompa dance music to new heights as one of the most famous and successful bands from the Caribbean.

The festival will take place over three days (Friday August 30 – Sunday, September 1, 2013). The event will transform the Barclays Center into an explosion of Caribbean cultures such as cuisine, fashion, reggae wear, music products, beverage, books, magazines, flags and other assorted Caribbean paraphernalia will be on display and on sale. The festival is expected to be a media feeding frenzy for the international music press, with coverage expected from journalists from Japan, Europe, Canada, South America, the Caribbean, and various states across the USA.



clemente-sidestreet-1-blog480David González (New York Times) writes about a new sculpture by Maritza Hernández, which now resides at the Roberto Clemente State Park (located on the Harlem River): “Like a bronze god descending from the heavens, Roberto Clemente was gently placed atop a black granite base on Monday morning. [. . .] Clemente—the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder, humanitarian and, some would say, martyr—finally graced the state park in the Bronx that bears his name.” See excerpts with a link to the full article below: “Clemente is home,” whispered Maritza Hernandez, the sculptor who spent much of the past two years crafting the statue. “I can’t believe it.” In Morris Heights? Outside a playground? A slugger from Puerto Rico by way of Pittsburgh? Believe it.

To generations of Puerto Rican New Yorkers, Clemente was the countryman who uplifted them when others shunned them. Clemente showed them, and anyone else who beheld him, pride and majesty on and off the field, breaking baseball records and racial barriers. On Sept. 30, 1972, he reached his 3,000th hit. Three months later on New Year’s Eve, he was killed in a plane crash while taking relief supplies to survivors of a devastating earthquake in Nicaragua. This week, Clemente reached another milestone – becoming what many believe is the first Puerto Rican honored by a statue in a park in New York City. In the Bronx, no less, the center of the known Nuyorican universe. “This is huge,” said Felix Matos Rodriguez, a historian and president of Hostos Community College. “Clearly, not just because of what he did as a sports figure, but because of his humanitarian streak, which was exemplified by his death. There is also an element of Latin American solidarity with him. He is somebody everyone can embrace.”

Frances Rodriguez had recently taken over as administrator of Roberto Clemente State Park when a reporter came by in 2004 asking if the park had a Clemente statue. She thought her staff was playing a prank on their newly arrived boss. They were not. The reporter had been following the footsteps of Jesus Colón, a writer who had wondered a half-century earlier why the city had no statues honoring the accomplishments of a fellow Puerto Rican. The encounter got Ms. Rodriguez to wondering. She consulted with the state parks commissioner and the legal staff, who encouraged her. She explored endowing a foundation to finance the statue and its upkeep. [. . .] Like running a park, which she did with energy, but not much spare time. The project was put on hold – until Rafael Toro visited the park for a domino tournament two years ago. Clemente held a special place in his heart. As a child, Mr. Toro once met the man, still marveling decades later how the athlete’s hand engulfed his, and how his short lifetime of superlatives inspired him. “I looked around and thought there was something missing here,” said Mr. Toro, who is director of public relations for Goya Foods, the tournament’s sponsor. “I saw a picture of him on a wall, but was that all? I asked Frances ‘Is there a statue?’ She told me no, there’s a lack of resources.” The thought nagged at him every time he drove past the park on his way to Goya’s New Jersey offices. “Then I thought, why don’t we do something?” he said. “It’s a no-brainer.” Clemente had done Goya-sponsored baseball clinics in Puerto Rico.

Cristobal Colon – Clemente’s close friend and the man who drove him to the airport the night he died – had been a Goya executive in Puerto Rico. “Also, there’s no statue of a Puerto Rican in New York City,” Mr. Toro said. “And our president is a big baseball fan.” [. . .] For now, Clemente will live by the playground. In time, he will be moved to the park’s entrance. All who enter will be greeted and challenged by his words engraved in granite. “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.” A Puerto Rican man who made a difference even though it cost him his life rests atop that pedestal. The statue – like everything else about him – is slightly larger than life.


Source: Repeating Islands

For full article, see


       "Are All Americans Criminals Because of the Way We Treat Black Men in America?" 
                                           (One of the Best Speeches of the 21st Century- Philip Jackson)
new jim Crow
"This speech by Professor Michelle Alexander is one of the best speeches of the 21st century,"according to Dr. Philip Jackson, director of theBlack Star Project inChicago.  "This speech is in the dynamic tradition ofspeeches by Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela andPresident John FitzgeraldKennedy. This is a speech that should be studiedby every student inAmericafor content, form, delivery, historical research and political veracity." Dr. Jackson reports on the speech and the book:
Additionally, Professor Alexander's book is a bible for understanding the actions and policies of America in relationship to race and incarceration over the past 50 years.  Every high school and college student in America must read the great book--The New Jim Crow!  And every adult in America should watch this video. Alexander reminds us of "Harriet Tubman, Ella Baker and Ida B. Wells!  She is a freedom fighter and a movement builder!
To listen to Attorney/ Professor Alexander's Must-Hear speech, Click here!
"The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Dr. Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face." (
 michelle new jim crow           
To join the movement to end the New Jim Crow in America, you can:  
  • Host a reading circle for The New Jim Crow book at your church, community center, high school or college
  • Communicate with your elected officials about ways to changes laws that sweep Black men and boys into the criminal justice system
  • Mentor youth in juvenile detention facilities
  • Visit inmates in prisons and jails (men and women)
  • Work to get records expunged for the formerly incarcerated
  • Welcome returning citizens (from prison) back to your community
  • Help returning citizens get jobs
  • Council first-time offenders so that they remain crime-free
  • Speak to youth in schools about not becoming part of the criminal justice system
  • Become a court watcher to ensure that Black men and boys are treated fairly by the criminal justice process
  • Write a letter to a jail or prison encouraging men and women who are incarcerated to keep their spirits high 

To become one of the the Servant Leaders in your city planning and directing this effort, please call The Black Star Project at 773.285.9600. They will provide you with an organizing kit that will help you step-by-step to create, manage or support an outstanding New Jim Crow Social Justice Movement program in your city.   



brit ribbon cutRecently the sun shone on the site dedication to celebrate the redevelopment of Raleigh Hall, a Grade II listed building in the heart of Brixton, which will become the UK’s first national Black heritage Centre in 2014. In front of an enthusiastic and buoyant audience of over 250 visitors and participants, the dedication event provided an opportunity to thank long standing supporters, friends, trustees, and funders for their continued commitment and to welcome new constituents to support a project that will promote a greater understanding and enjoyment of Britain’s Black cultural heritage.

The beautiful weather surrounded the crowd, bringing warmth to Windrush Square – which was awash with colour and vibrancy thanks to the steel pan sounds of musician Kyron Akal, who lent a contemporary yet traditional ambience to the proceedings by combining today’s chart hits with conventional Caribbean pan arrangements. Reverend Anita Mckenzie gave a radiant and spiritual address that encapsulated our journey so far, and shared the vision propelling us forward to the centre’s opening in 2014. There were heartfelt and thought provoking dedications by Councillor Lorna Campbell, Chair Dawn Hill, Director Paul Reid, and Patron Colin Jackson who, during his dedication, publicly donated the last pair of running shoes he wore in international competition to the archive. Moments of uplifting celebration were provided by the clever, funny, and heart warming lyrics of poet Malika Booker. director reid

The ceremony closed with musical selections and audience participation led by the Morley College Gospel Choir, and recognition of the presence and endorsement of Dame Tessa Jowell MP and the musician Eddy Grant. However, the key moment during the festivities must be attributed to the ‘Ribbon Cutting Ceremony’, which included not one, but eight valiant stalwarts, who brought a sense of purpose to the ground breaking occasion and made the moment one for the history books. Ribbon cutters included the Leader of Lambeth Council Councillor Lib Peck, Colin Jackson, Dawn Hill, HLF representative Jane Stancliffe, Head of Active Communities for Lambeth Council Charlotte Evans, Dame Betty Asafu Adjaye, artist George ‘Fowokan’ Kelly, and Symeon Brown. The event culminated with invited guests and supporters enjoying refreshments on Coldharbour Lane courtesy of Pat Foster of the Satay Bar and Ord Henry of Market House. Future celebration events leading up to and including the completion of the Black heritage centre will include and embrace our wider community and general public.


Picture: Ribbon cutting. L-R Jane Stancliffe, Cllr Lib Peck, Dame Betty Asafu Adjaye, Symeon Brown, George 'Fowokan' Kelly, Colin Jackson CBE, Dawn Hill and Charlotte Evans. (Photo Credit: Isaac Akwue, aged 11)

(Rt) Black Heritage Centre Director Paul Reid (rt) with Patron Colin Jackson, former Sprint star



brithaiti12Britain has reopened its embassy in Haiti after being absent for nearly a half century, a part of an effort to broaden its diplomatic and business presence in the Western Hemisphere, as reports. The new two-person mission will be housed at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The ambassador is Steven Fisher, who is already the British envoy to the neighboring Dominican Republic. He will continue to live and work in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo.

Britain opened an embassy in El Salvador late last year and another will be reopened in Paraguay in July as part of a push by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to strength British diplomacy in Latin America and the Caribbean. A new British consulate was opened in late 2011 in the Brazilian city of Recife. There was already a full embassy in Brazil's capital of Brasilia and consulates in the leading cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Visiting British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire was on hand for the yesterday ceremony in Port-au-Prince. He also met with President Michel Martelly and other Haitian officials during a two-day trip to encourage bilateral trade and investment. Haiti plans to open a diplomatic mission in Britain in September.

Britain's last ambassador to Haiti, Gerard Corley Smith, left the country in 1962 after being declared persona non grata by dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier. The embassy closed in 1966, the same year that the publication of British writer Graham Greene's novel "The Comedians" added   to worsening tensions with its critical look at the Duvalier government and its secret police.


Source: Repeating Islands

For the original report go to


On Wednesday, June 19, a statue of famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was unveiled in the in the United States Capitol Visitor Center at a ceremony hosted by

Speaker of the House John Boenher.  After escaping slavery, Douglass became a leader of the abolitionist movement and a prolific writer.  District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor

Holmes Norton has been pushing for the statue for years.  All 50 states are represented in the Capitol by a famous person. But not Washington, DC. Douglass will be the fourth

African American to be depicted in the U.S. Capitol complex. The last African American to be unveiled was Rosa Parks (1913-2005).  Her statue is in Statuary hall.  


douglassyoung-495x341 A statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) stands in the Capitol rotunda and a statue of abolisionist Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)

was unveiled in the  the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in 2012. This statue is the third statueor bust of an African American on display in

the U.S. Capitol, representing the more than 600,000 District of Columbia residents, and serves as a tribute to a great Marylander and

civil rights leader.







Original article -


Mrs. Phyllis Kandie

Mrs. Phyllis Kandie was yesterday sworn in as Kenya’s new Minister for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, combining the previously stand alone ministry with, what tourism stakeholders described as ‘very alien bedfellows’, namely Commerce and East African Affairs.

There was wide speculation after the election results were announced, that the new portfolio combination would bundle tourism with natural resources and environment, as after all President Uhuru Kenyatta had to comply with the new constitution of Kenya and reduce the ministries of the previous government from 42 to a maximum of 22.

Having served as chairman of KTB for a while in the past, Uhuru Kenyatta ruffled more than a few feathers when he opted to put tourism into a ministry also looking after the hugely important East African Affairs and Commerce, reducing the tourism portfolio to a mere department inspite acknowledging in his inaugural address and subsequent speeches the importance of tourism for the country.

A very senior stakeholder, for obvious reasons unwilling to be quoted by name, had this to say: ‘We shall have to lobby for a change here. It is an unnecessary effort however because President Kenyatta should have known better, his advisors should have known better. You in Uganda realized that putting tourism with trade and industry in the past was a complete failure and Museveni realized and made tourism a single ministry again. In Tanzania it is Natural Resources and Tourism, again a sensible combination. Now, like under the last government, which was a balloon for job creation reasons, wildlife is held by another ministry, forests are held by another ministry, environment is held by another ministry and yet they are all supposed to be part and parcel of tourism. It is a combination where tourism, instead of working unfettered, now has to compete over resources with Commerce and East African Affairs. The other issue is that the industry wanted to have Balala back who was the best tourism minister we ever had.

He is now in charge of mining, again a strange choice considering his background from the coast where a lot of Kenya’s tourism activity is centred. Few will right now say this but behind closed doors there is concern that in this case Kenyatta and Ruto got it wrong. How will this minister be able to concentrate on Kenya’s most important sector when she has to deal with East African Affairs where there are so many contentious and even explosive issues between member states. How will she give her undivided attention to Tourism when she has to look after Commerce also at the same time. Will she be able to get KTB the budget the industry has demanded for tourism promotion? You can see, there are many issues being discussed here right now and it is all in the interest of propelling tourism to the top of the rankings again’.

Another issue mentioned was the Mrs. Kandie was the only of the 16 candidates presented to the parliamentary vetting committee rejected by majority vote, making it necessary for the full parliament to jump to her defense and vote to accept her, leaving open questions what may have prompted the committee to give her the thumbs down, what they knew and what the public is still to learn. Added information from Nairobi quoted one committee member, the MP for Kigumo Hon. J. Kamau, who apparently was the single voice on the committee voting for Mrs. Kandie at the end of vetting as having said: ‘This woman worked for some of the biggest companies in the private sector. There is therefore no question as to her competence. 

The reason that she did not present herself very well before the committee is not reason enough for us to reject her’, opening the door even wider as to questions over the impression she made when appearing before the committee charged with vetting cabinet secretaries proposed by the president.

What is clear is that Mrs. Kandie, now that she is the substantive minister after being sworn in yesterday afternoon, will have to pull out all the stops to make an impression on the tourism industry’s stakeholders. In addition she needs to be charming her cabinet colleagues who hold affiliated portfolios like natural resources which oversees the wildlife sector, to work hand in hand with her and be supportive of her policies to succeed in giving the tourism sector the funding, and the attention it requires to once again become Kenya’s locomotive for economic growth.

Added the source in closing: ‘She will have her intray marked tourism full to the brim. Mwazo left a mess behind in tourism. The various new tourism parastatals need board appointments which is long overdue and has hampered the work those new bodies have to do. There is need for industry relations to be repaired after Mwazo’s failed fight with the KTB board and CEO last year and so many other things he bungled up. And that is the concern really, will she have all the time for tourism when East African Affairs will keep her busy, when Commerce will keep her busy. Good luck to her, we shall wait and see how the government’s promises to revive tourism will be turned into action’.

For now it is a warm welcome to Mrs. Phyllis Kandie as the crucial 100 first days are now underway, during which she can and must convince those with doubts that she can and will fulfill the high expectations tourism stakeholders have in seeing their own sector excel.

Courtesy of (African Travel Quarterly)


The Adventure Theatre MTC in Glen Echo, MD, recently presented the world premiere musical, Three Little Birds, according to Andrew Gans  for Based on the book by Cedella Marley, the children's musical boasts music and lyrics by reggae legend Bob Marley and will run there until April 14th..

Directed by Nick Olcott and adapted for the stage by ATMTC’s producing artistic director Michael J. Bobbitt, Three Little Birds is described as such: "Ah…yasso nice! Three little birds sing their sweet songs to Ziggy, a very shy child who is happy to see the world from the T.V. in his room. His tricky friend Nansi wants him to get out and enjoy the Island nation of Jamaica. But, Ziggy is afraid of hurricane, mongoose and evil spirits."

The cast includes Jobari Parker-Namdar, S. Lewis Feemster, David John Little, Brittany N. Williams, Ayanna Hardy and Tara Yates-Reeves.

The production also features music direction by Darius Smith, arrangements and orchestrations by John L. Cornellius, II, set design by Joe Musumeci, costume design by Kendra Rai, properties design by Andrea “Dre” Moore, lighting design by Brian Allard and sound design by Neil McFadden.

Three Little Birds is recommended for ages four and older. All performances take place at Adventure Theatre MTC, 7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo, MD. Tickets are $19 each and can be purchased online at or by calling (301) 634-2270.

For the original report go to


kunte Plaque20closeup1“Kunta Kinteh Island: Coming Home Without Shackles” is a documentary produced by Elvin Ross Studios. And from the shores of The Gambia, West Africa Director, Writer, Composer Elvin Ross has literally brought the message home to the youth of the United States. Ross’ educational film tells the story of the legendary African Mandinka Warrior Kunta Kinteh captured and imprisoned on James Island before being shipped as cargo to Americas. The renaming of James Island to Kunta Kinteh Island on February 6, 2011 is documented in the film and brings the legendary story of Roots the television miniseries based on Alex Haley's novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which first aired in 1977, full circle.

Ross’ purpose of the film is to educate the youth of today about the legacy of Kunta Kinteh. His wishes are to assist Albreda Juffureh Primary School in the Gambian village once home to Kunta Kinteh in funding by the sales of the documentary.

While on the set of “Kunta Kinteh Island” in The Gambia, West Africa I got a chance to speak to the film documentarian. “There are some people who don’t believe the story of Kunta Kinteh. Everyone especially the youth need to know what happened” he adds. The positive potential of Ross’
documentary is enormous. He and There was a scream in me raging to get out during the capture scene that took place in Bijilo Forest. Everyone on the set not acting, directing or filming at the time felt the pain of the characters from Kunta Kinteh to his capturers.

Ascendants of Kunta Kinteh, the Kinteh family who live in Juffureh Kunta Kinteh's family village; His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A. J.J. Jammeh President of the Republic of The Gambia; Ben Vereen, who played 'Chicken George' in the original "Roots"; and Singer Jermaine Jackson of the legendary Jackson Five, Jacksons, Jackson Family appear and are interviewed in Kunta Kinteh Island: Coming Home Without Shackles.

Tyler Perry Director/Producer of “Madea” fame and Latin American Journalist Soledad O’ Brien hosted a Red Carpet affair at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. There were and are many screenings to come. We will post it here as we get details. Do check out Kunta Kinteh Island Movie Trailer: .

On Wednesday 20th February 2013 at noon, a blue heritage plaque will be unveiled in South Kensington to honour the American Social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The plaque will be unveiled on Nell Gwynn House, Whiteheads Grove, SW3 which is the site of the former home of British abolitionist George Thompson, who Frederick Douglass stayed with for a time in 1846, while lecturing in London on the horrors of the slave trade.
Organized by the English Heritage approved plaque scheme, the Nubian Jak Community Trust, this will be the first blue plaque unveiled in the capital for 2013. It is likely to be immense media interest due to the fact that the abolition of the slave trade is current box office gold dust with the multi- award oscar nominated "Lincoln" and the equally popular "Django Unchained." The installation date for the plaque is also significant coming exactly 118 years to the day Frederick Douglass passed away. Nubian Jak is being partnered by the American Embassy to do the tribute, and the unveiling will be streamed live to the United States.
The Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea are also supportive of the event, which will include a reception after the unveiling where an exhibition displaying the work of 150 school students from 5 London schools will be shown. The schools have been working with Nubian Jak over the last three months in researching the life and times of Frederick Douglass. 
The venue for the reception will be the new Campbells of London Art Gallery at 35 Thurloe Street SW7, a 3 minute walk from Nell Gwynn House and directly opposite South Kensington tube station. The art gallery will also be formally opened by the deputy high commissioner of the United States Embassy, Her Excellency Barbara Stephenson. The plaque tribute ceremony is open to all members of the public.
NB: After the initial exhibition at Campbells of London Art Gallery, the exhibition of the students will then go on display at the US Embassy in London until 31st March 2013
Date: Wednesday 20th February
Time: Mid-day (12am ceremony start) and 1pm - 3pm for reception
Plaque Ceremony: Nell Gwynn House, Whiteheads Grove, South Kensington, SE3 3AX
Plaque Reception: Campbells of London Art Gallery, 35 Thurloe Street SW7 (Directly Opposite South Kensington tube station)
For more info email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
General Enquiries – Nu Jak Media - 0800 093 0400
Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy Minister Barbara Stephenson said: “This is a magnificent way to honour one of America’s greatest campaigners for equality and civil rights. The plaque will allow passers-by the chance to stop and reflect for a moment on Frederick Douglass’s life and achievements – and encourage them to discover the part British people played in his journey from slave to statesman.””.
Founder of the Nubian Jak Plaque Commemorative Plaque Scheme Jak Beula said: "It is pleasing and appropriate that during the second term of Barak Obama’s presidency, the man who set the president 150 years by being nominated for the position, should be honoured in the UK for his  abolitionist activities and universal stance on human rights!"
Chair of Nell Gwynn House Freehold, Anthony Brown said: It is a privilege to honour the memory of Fredrick Douglass We should pay tribute to all Men (and indeed women) who like him have been so instrumental in achieving the level of freedom and equality regardless of gender religion or race enjoyed by those fortunate enough to live in the modern democracies.Nell Gwynn herself was on of the few who were able to take advantage of the newly won liberty for women to be allowed to act on stage and would no doubt have thoroughly approved of the greater liberties for women achieved thanks to the efforts of Frederick Douglass and his like .”
Managing Director of Campbells of London Art Gallery Wendell Clement Said: "Timing is everything in life and there could not be a better moment to celebrate Frederick Douglass; Barak Obama's presidency, Stephen Spielberg's biopic 'Lincoln' and Quentin Tarantino's 'Unchained'... The history is catching up and we all feel previleged to commorate their momentum with a Nubian Jak blue plaque.”
British historian on Frederick Douglass, Hannah Rose Murray Said: Through his powerful oratory and fiery rhetoric, Frederick Douglass created a sensation in Britain, and it’s fantastic that his experiences are finally recognised with this Nubian Jak Plaque. Hopefully we can begin to understand what Britain meant to him, and it should kick-start an international discussion about Douglass’s time here. More importantly, we should all celebrate the achievements of this great man, a social activist who campaigned for, among others, abolition, suffrage and women’s rights."         
Notes to Editors
1. The Frederick Douglass Tribute is being organised by the Nubian Jak Community Trust, in association with the United States High Commission in London. The tribute forms parts of BHM Celebrations in the US, and the reception will formally open the new Campbells Art Gallery in South Kensington at 35 Thurloe Street. The tribute is also supported by local dignitaries, councillors, members of the public, national and international press and media:  
2. The Nubian Jak Community Trust is the only national BME plaque and sculpture scheme in the UK, and Europe. For more information contact: 0800 093 0400 or +44 (0) 781 733 1107 email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   

congo squareSome tales just cannot be watered down. And Black theatre is where our stories are told. Despite the tendency for Hollywood, Broadway and mainstream theatre to inhibit controversial stories of Black people in favor of crowd-friendly award winners about Black people, Chicago remains a city rife with Black-owned and operated theatre companies to lend authenticity to onstage portrayals of Black life. These veteran and young companies seek to cater primarily to Black audiences who do not mind hearing Black vernacular and actually prefer it, who do not think a hip-hop track soundtrack signals “low-art,” who have a broad view of Africa and who want to see the story of Black legends acted out live before their eyes rather than read about in books. The Black theatre-going audience is alive and well, and no more so than in the city of Chicago.

As childhood home to Lorraine Hansberry, one of America’s most celebrated playwrights, the inheritance of Black greatness in the dramatic arts would seem to be a given for Chicago. Visitors who wish to experience timely dramas played by world-class Black actors owe themselves a visit to Chicago before Broadway, where new and classic productions abound through a vibrant Black theatre community. From musicals to classic plays to “hip-hoperas,” four playhouses in Chicago have a seat waiting for you.


Maat Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre raises the bar among Black theatre companies in America, with its specific concentration on African playwrights and dramatic stories originating on the African continent. It was formed in 1990 by a trio of University of Illinois graduates who desired a cultural and artistic outlet in which to connect themselves and the community around them to Africa. Since then, it has given rise to 26 premieres of main-stage productions and 17 touring shows with one goal in mind: to give the African voice its say on the American theatre stage. It has also produced community publications centered on the arts and hosted art exhibitions of up-and-coming artists. In addition, MPAACT offer dramatic training classes for actors. Plays such as “Trouble the Water” and “Blaxploitation” pushed the envelope of drama.

MPAACT’s meteoric rise as both a local and national contender can be attributed to the content it prefers to feature. Provocative without being exploitative, inclusive without being politically-correct, MPAACT spotlights fresh voices and stories that dazzle audiences with experimental forms, African-dance choreography and African language. Theatre-goers who attend an MPAAC performance can be prepared to explore themes more conservative theatres shun: mental health, suicide, rape, police brutality and queerness.

MPAACT partners with several theatres and playhouses throughout Chicago in order to bring audiences such timely events as African-centered theatre and dramatic adventures.

daiqwan-thumb-168x102-123For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit


Black Ensemble Theater

The name “Jackie Taylor” is synonymous with Black theatre in Chicago. Taylor began the Black Ensemble Theater in a small playhouse on the North Side of Chicago in 1976. Although an actress with early film credits in such classics as Cooley High and later roles in movies such as Losing Isaiah, Taylor yearned to make an impact on Chicago’s cultural history through her own productions that sent out progressive messages and images of Black people. The result was the Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago, which raised $20 million dollars to re-open its doors in a brand new building on Chicago’s competitive North Side theatre district. Taylor still serves as its Founder and Executive Director.

Black Ensemble Theater exclusively presents Black bio-musicals, energetic and boisterous shows that feature at least 18 songs recorded by a living or historical legend. Every seat in the house gets up on their feet during energetic plays that have depicted the lives of Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Dionne Warwick. Its most famous and longest-running show may be The Jackie Wilson Story, which first opened in Chicago and regular runs nationally at such shows as The Apollo in Harlem. . Last Season, Taylor’s conception of a Black woman’s fairy tale came to life with The Other Cinderella,” a show presenting some of BET’s best acting, dance and voice talent.

For information or to purchase tickets, please visit

The Eta Creative Arts Foundation

Chicagoans utter the letters “ETA” and think of far more than a playhouse nestled in the heart of Chicago’s South Side. Incorporated in 1971, Chicago’s ETA Creative Arts Foundation is a distinguished art gallery, weekly jazz stage, dramatic training ground, youth theater school and playwright development workshop. Television stars T’keyah “Krystal” Keymah (In Living Color, The Cosby Show) and film actor Mel Jackson (Soul Food, Living Single) began their acting careers on the ETA stage and in their classes. Co-founder Abena Joan Brown retired in 2011 after 40 years at the helm of the theater, and new president and chief executive Phillip Thomas inherited the mission to produce content relative to a new generation of Black theatergoers aged 20-40. Eta’s home is an expanse of property across from a vacant lot the foundation purchased to build a new home, a multi-level and multi-wing building to serve as Chicago’s Black cultural hub.

The theater is known for its high group sales to local churches and schools, as well as its fine selection of both classic and contemporary plays by nationally-awarded Black dramatists. They have regularly produced the popular play “Checkmates,” written by Ron Milner and starring Paul Winfield and Denzel Washington on Broadway in 1988. But what most sets Eta apart is it inclusion of youth-centered programming onstage and off—with a theater camp each summer, and family-friendly play selections. Eta was also among the first institutions in Chicago to strongly address youth violence in the community, with a 2011-2012 season full of plays that all addressed the theme of community strength and recovery from violence. The new season focuses on class Black plays by such legendary Black authors as Alice Childress and James Baldwin.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit

Congo Square Theatre Company

Quintessential American playwright August Wilson held such admiration for Congo Square Theatre Company, an African-American theatre company he helped guide into creation in 1999, that it was among only 4 entities he designated to receive donations in his honor upon his 2005 death. As a donor, Advisory Council member and even audience member, Wilson recognized the commitment to cutting-edge stories and young Black talent that Congo Square has become known for in Chicago and nationwide. With its name originating from the nineteenth century district in New Orleans known as Congo Square, this relatively new institution has already managed to gain national recognition and stay alive with a seasonal offering of first-produced plays by award-winning young dramatists.

Congo Square is best-known throughout Chicago for its annual production of "The Nativity,"a perfect performance for Black residents and tourists during the holidays. The innovative piece fuses African dance with a telling of the Biblical events of Jesus Christ, while the second act features a journey through Black gospel music. Upon Wilson’s death, the company began the New Play Initiative (NPI), a commitment to attracting, selecting and producing the best never-before-heard Black playwrights in the country. To date, more than two dozen playwrights have seen their dream come true through Congo Square. Most recently, Congo Square produced a stellar city-wide celebration of the life and work of Walter Mosley, with panel discussions at the main Chicago Public Library and a staging reading of Mr. Mosley’s plays. Artistic Director Daniel Bryant selected the theme of identity—“i am”—for the 2012-2013 season.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit

Kalisha Buckhanon is a writer in Chicago. You may visit her at

LindaLinda Antognini has been painting since she was a little girl, creating one-of-a-kind original paintings. She says that she believes that there is no greater gift you can give to another than something made from the heart and soul. “That is just what you will find with my paintings; they are personal and created exclusively for you,” says Antognini.

 “At this moment in my artistic journey, I am creating a series of paintings inspired and interpreted from the powerful music of the late legendary Tupac Amaru Shakur. It is my hope that this will continue to evolve, grow, and strengthen each day. With your help, input, and dialogue we can share Tupac’s essence throughout the world.”

 Antognini is calling this set of paintings: “Project Tupac.” She says that this project is a vision of hers that was inspired by recent personal events that transformed her life. To date, she has painted 12 pictures in her ‘Project Tupac’ series. After listening to his songs for which she said must have been a thousand times, she got inspired to put some of the words and feelings from his music to paint. She intends to create 100 individual works of art, releasing them ten at a time over the next several years. Antognini will debut some of her "Project Tupac" painitngs at the African Diaspora World Tourism Awards in Atlanta April 26th-27th.

1 Tupac Dear Mama copy small“Blending Tupac’s music and passion with my experiences as a woman, artist, and life participant, I labor to bring forward Tupac’s message through oil on canvas original paintings. Listening to each song as you enjoy the visual representations creates an intense personal experience like no other. You can feel the music and passion as Tupac reaches out with his strong voice. Each painting is unique, dynamic, and a personal work in progress,” she explains. “I am actively engaging in various communities to help move forward Tupac’s commitment to his community.”

Antognini has lived from east coast to west coast and in Italy for eight years studying and appreciating art all the time. She has traveled most of Europe, with wanderlust and awe. Painting has been in her life the entire time. You can find her art in homes throughout the U.S. and Europe. For more information, visit




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