Plus a community events update, including the Sophisticated Ladies' Halloween costume party pics.
I haven’t given any community updates in a little while, so here it goes:
• Of course, nothing can bring Nadirah Ruffin back, but her family was ecstatic over the recent arrests made in conjunction with her kidnapping and murder. We must continue to pray for them, especially Nadirah’s young son who has to grow up without his mother.
• The school year has started out great for Atlantic City’s children with lots of recreation and tutoring programs being offered.
The recent S.T.E.A.M. open house was a good example of what’s happening. This used to be STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), but the “A” has been added by those who know the Arts play a valuable role in a child’s education as well.
At the city's Uptown Complex, I saw children happily engaging in making rainbows on black paper due to an elementary chemical reaction, building houses out of marshmallows and toothpicks, competing in math puzzles and exploring positive graffiti with newsprint taped to walls.
All of the children, especially the Sci-Girls, told me they love staying after school and getting help with homework or participating in extra science projects. The same event took place at New York Avenue School and Martin Luther King School on Oct 20.
• Another fun event held recently was Martin Luther King School’s annual Career Day. For grades K-8, there were nurses, doctors, personal trainers, Mayor Langford, council members, radio hosts, Coast Guard representatives, wildlife workers, animal-shelter volunteers, air-traffic employees, bakers, realtors, inventors, bus drivers, lawyers, artists, authors, librarians, firemen and limousine drivers.
However, almost all of the students told me they liked the canine unit of the Atlantic City Police Department and the SWAT team most of all.
I was most impressed by the 8th graders who were dressed professionally and escorted guests from classroom to classroom to speak with students. They also helped with coats and refreshments in the senior citizen’s room, which served as a hospitality suite for the day. I’m really looking forward to attending Career Day again next year.
• The Sophisticated Ladies held their annual Halloween costume party at Wash’s in Pleasantville for the fifth year in a row. People told me they keep coming out for the event “because we can party with people our own age.”
The Sophisticated Ladies is basically a social club, mainly single women ages 50 and over who want to bond with other women their age, but they also donate time, money and basic necessities to food banks, soldiers and families in need after an emergency.
Members Lois Snyder, Rita Hines, Ina Duran, Edith O’Neil, Charlotte Hoskins, Thelma Williams, Patricia Smothers and Gloria Graham were talking at the party. One told me, "It’s a privilege to be able to grow old and still party. These ladies are like family without actually being family. We love the togetherness, laughing together, crying together and supporting one another.”
LEFT: The Sophisticated Ladies Halloween costume party at Wash's.
I had no idea 10 years ago that today I’d be part of an interfaith group, Bridge of Faith, which is at the helm of southern New Jersey’s biggest Sept. 11 commemoration event.
How could I have missed so many great cook-outs, parties and dances?
It’s been very weird. When I decided to self-publish my book in Dec. 2009, I did it because an agent in New York told me — and this is pre-Obama — that nobody’s interested in black history now. I said, ‘What?’ And she said, ‘Nobody is interested. That’s just the truth.’ Then, I think it was in April, HBO calls me.
Plus this week's new Drew Toonz cartoon, and the MLK Awards with Nelson Johnson speaking set for Jan. 14.
With the new TV series based on early Atlantic City, Boardwalk Empire, coming this fall to HBO, I was glad when I received Turiya Raheem’s book Growing Up In the Other Atlantic City: Wash’s and the Northside. Finally there is a book that researches and documents the sights and sounds of A.C. from the African-American/Kentucky Avenue perspective. In other books and TV specials, places like Chicken Bone Beach, Club Harlem and the Wonder Gardens are footnotes to stories about places like the 500 Club and/or the Steele Pier. In Raheem’s book these places are more than just background. The long-gone...
Jacob Lawrence Day in Atlantic City
Black History, Jazz and Poetry