Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Great Day for a Swim - Hannah Atkins Pools are Open!

Today is a great day for a swim! The Hannah Atkins pools (adult and kiddie) are open! I stopped by the grand opening of the Memorial Day weekend pool opening, along with Charles McRae, my Democratic running mate for the 3rd Ward city council. We said hello to Finn, the Dolphin,* and the children began coming in immediately. The lifeguards were on deck, and the water was crystal clear. Due to the recent tragedy, patrols in the area have been beefed up. I spoke with Officer Andrew Crawford, who is on patrol today. The weather is warm, the sky is blue, and the water looked great--when I left for another commitment, the kids were splashing around and swimming gleefully. Popcorn, cold water, and icy Popsicles are being served, and the first 50 children to arrive will receive free swim goggles! Enjoy this beautiful day!

*Don't worry about Finn on this warm spring day--he is outfitted with an air conditioning unit in the headpiece, and a cooling vest--he said he felt just fine!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Strong and Effective Leadership from the Column A Democrats

This is just a quick blog post before I go out to a number of activities and events that have been scheduled for today. We are attending as many events as possible, if given enough advance notice and preparation.  Charles and I have been out and about for the past several weeks with our message of strong leadership and effective advocacy for the residents of Plainfield. At our numerous "Meet-and-Greets," and as we are out walking with the rest of the Column A Democratic Team, we are greatly encouraged by the positive feedback we have received from you, the people of Plainfield. I look forward to meeting you at today's activities, as well as at the others which are scheduled for this week. We are just about two weeks away from the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, June 7.

See you on the campaign trail!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

REDUX: Black Lesbian Playwright and Activist Lorraine Hansberry

This is a re-post from 3 years ago--commemorating the birth of one of our great American writers and thinkers--the late, great Lorraine Hansberry.

I want to acknowledge the life and legacy of black lesbian playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry, who was born on May 19, 1930. She died of cancer in 1965 at the age of 34, but left a lasting legacy in the form of her artistic contributions as well as her political writings (too many to name here). To start your immersion into Hansberry's aesthetic, I would suggest that, in addition to reading the original play of A Raisin in the Sun and watching the 1961 film version (the classic and superior version), you look at To Be Young, Gifted, and Black, the posthumously released collection of writings that was turned into a play and film, respectively.  

Required reading would be the essay written by her dear friend, James Baldwin, titled "Sweet Lorraine." I have a copy of the film, which was directed by Michael Schultz for WNET Playhouse back in 1972 and which stars Ruby Dee, Blythe Danner, Al Freeman, Jr. (who died just last year) Lauren Jones, and Barbara Barrie. The film is a sort of bricolage of all of Hansberry's writings, with her character being read by all the actors, irrespective of race, gender, and sexual orientation. It was the kind of experimental work that was being done by WNET in the early days of public television. Finally, I invite you also to watch Nina Simone performing "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black" (the song she and Weldon Irvine wrote as a tribute to Lorraine) at the Harlem Cultural Festival (known as the "Black Woodstock") in 1969.

Also born on this day was Malcolm X (1925), who also died prematurely (at the hands of assassins) in 1965 (aged 39). It is difficult the imagine losing two great black intellects in the same year (just a month apart), but we have their respective legacies. We can ignore them at our own peril. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016


Hi, Plainfield,

I am just letting you know that Charles McRae and I are working hard to get elected to the open seats on the Plainfield City Council to keep Plainfield moving forward. The other day, we were out with our progressive Democratic Congresswoman, the Hon. Bonnie Watson Coleman, discussing the quality of health care in Plainfield and the surrounding area. We are proud to be on the ballot with the congresswoman, with Freeholder Linda Carter, and the rest of the Column A Democrats to continue to advocate for you, expanding senior services, improving economic development and really working to enhance the quality of life in Plainfield. Charles and I will be working with our congresswoman to continue the fight for stricter gun safety laws to protect our young people and our neighborhoods. We'll be counting on you to come out on Tuesday, June 7th to support the whole Column A team. As we like to say... 
 "Vote Column A, all the way!"

Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince - Genius of Realness

Prince was truly an original artist--a genius of music, and prescient in many ways. He also understood who he was as a black American, and he never let us forget it. As the tributes to his musical genius come pouring in, let us not forget that Prince was also a prince of shade and realness. His standards for musicality and realness were extremely high as well. May he truly rest in peace.

That said, we can rejoice in what he has left us.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


At the League of Women Voters of Plainfield* candidate forum, held last week, I listened to all the candidates present as they spoke of their commitment to the school district--they also challenged Wilma Campbell on her more than a decade long tenure as a president/member, presiding over declining graduation rates, lack of textbooks, lack of transparency--with last-minute "walk-on" items, such as the shocking vote to move the election from November to April without any public input*--and what they viewed as mismanagement of public school funds. I think it's time for Wilma Campbell to go--it's time for new energy, new ideas, and a real vision for the district. I think it's time for new energy, new ideas, and a real vision for the district. I am supporting the team of Lynn Anderson, Dorien Hurtt, and Carmencita Pile for the board this year, and I hope that you will join me in voting for a fresh perspective! Please visit the league's website (CLICK HERE) for information on the candidates and their platform.

**When current members of the Plainfield Board of Education, led by Campbell, garnered enough votes to move the election, I was disappointed, because I knew that this would impact voter turnout and add significantly to the cost of the election--upwards of $115,000, according to the Municipal Clerk of Plainfield. I was further disappointed with the newly-restricted voting hours of 2:00 - 9:00 pm--this will surely suppress the vote. If the board thinks cost should not be an issue in moving the election, they should have at least ensured that there would be no voting restrictions. That said, I hope everyone realizes that the school board election this Tuesday, April 19, is crucial to the future of our children.



*I am a longstanding member of the LWV-Plainfield, and I served as time-keeper, along with member Rupert Crawford. The forum was moderated by a member of the State LWV, as per the organization's rules.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Octavia Estelle Butler: On the 10th Anniversary of Our Sister's Death

This 24th day of February marks the 10th anniversary of the death of one of America's greatest modern writers, the late Octavia E. Butler. As a serious fan and follower of her work, I chose the two quotes in creating these images in tribute to her clear-eyed prescience. May our sister continue to rest in peace. #haikuhallofblackness