Sunday, November 25, 2012

WA's Emerged and Emerging African Americans

Marselas Owens (of Seattle)  and President Obama
Signing the Health Care Bill




Keeping informed and informing others is a key part of who I am and what serves me well. I like connecting people who are on the say path and enjoy seeing new things emerge from these new relationships.

As an Elder in our "Village" I get to meet, know and partner with incredible African Americans. Most are  much younger than I am.  They keep me wanting to get up get dressed and go see what they are accomplishing today. They keep me updated on their ideas, inspire me to come up with new and relevant ideas. I have learned from them the value of new technologies. Dr. Maxine Mimms taught me that this is the key to staying emotionally, and physically healthy and adding more and more years to my life. This is what African Americans have been doing for many centuries, getting up, accomplishing and sharing. She models this well as the Professor for Critical Community Conversations at the Life Enrichment Bookstore and Learning Center in Columbia City, Seattle the third Friday of each month. It is so refreshing to see the number of inspired African Americans of all ages gather around our Elder of Distinction and share with her and each other the many positive aspects of their lives and of being African American.

When here as a surrogate for President Barack Obama, Newark Mayor, Corey Booker gave this instruction: Move from sedentary agitation to unapologetic activism.  There are many emerged and emerging leaders among us in WA State, who are doing just that. They are not waiting for someone to pay them or give them a huge grant, or give them permission. They cover a myriad of skills, and areas needing unapologetic leadership to move our children and families from mediocrity to greatness. It is a formula that keeps African Americans alive and well in America.

Marcelas Owens My hero. He is one of the most familiar young faces associated with Pres. Obama. He stood next to Mr. President when he signed the Health Care bill. His mother,Tiffany, a dynamic advocate for health care, died at the age of 27, and lacked the kind of medical care this bill now guarantees to all. Marcelas,is a First Place alum and now at Madrona K-8 in Seattle was 11 years old, and chose to pick up where she left off.
Khadijah Toms, Danielle Jackson and Mia Franklin are fireball advocates for children and adults living with disabilities, their expertise comes from raising children with very challenging disabilities and I depend on them for their knowledge and activism. Getting more paid and support services for African American families is needed at every level, early services, school, and state Developmental Disabilities. They know the systems.
Cheryl Milton stepped up and into a vacuum that has elevated her life and knowledge and that of homeless children needing a teacher who loves and knows how to teach science and math. 
Norman Alston I can not say enough about him, his Fear No Number Math is making a difference and changing the culture of so many brown, black and poor children. He has grown into his brilliance.
Yalonda Masundire had a vision and no funds, but like all successful did not let that stop her. Go with your inspired self and the resources will find you. She brought to children in Rainier Beach an academic camp with certified teachers that reflected their cultures. 
Delbert Richardson His American Museum because of its content and message may never get the funding it needs. He educates about the sustained part of American history we know as slavery and Jim Crow. How can such a long period of our history get only one chapter in our history lesson. 
Life Enrichment Books and Learning Center TeamWhen the owner threatened to reclaim his property, this team of young folks stepped up to the challenge and held a fund raiser, and put together a strategic plan. While other independent and even corporate bookstores are closing its doors, our young folks decided to expand the bookstore into an African American learning center the only African American bookstore in Pacific Northwest.  Please get on the mailing list and stay informed. and this leads to another young person
Mayor Marilyn Strickland She is the Mayor of Tacoma and makes us all proud whether we live in Tacoma or not. She is guiding this city to a renewal that is making it a gem in Washington's crown. 
Rev. Paul Smoot up in Everett is ever present when it comes to being a voice for African American students. He runs a school where he is producing children who know they are scholars as young as three years old. 
Kamilah Abdul-Alim and Nicole Burns this 2nd and 3rd grade teaching duo are two educators to behold. Watching them teach is like watching a painter paint a lovely picture. They are just naturals and they take pride in each of their children. Their doors are always open to visitors and they helped me to formulate the Elders in Residence Project. Both have retired community members helping them assure that every child can read.  
Bernard Bennett and his brothers The number of black owned media is down to a number we can count using our fingers. With such a small African American population along the I-5 corridor it is a miracle that this family owned media a radio station and newspaper is still on everyday and we can count on news important to African Americans to be printed every week. We know Chris Bennett the Elder, but many do not know his sons have stepped up to keep this business going against all odds. 
Salah Mason When he was so much younger than he is today, I put him with a professor at the UW Business school could he make a businessman out of an artist. The answer after a small amount of time counseling him was "I do not think so."  It is not easy to teach business to African Americans in the ways that it is taught to white students. So I applaud him for his international business Kinfolk Design Studio, Bar, Restaurant, clothing and Bicycle Co.in Brooklyn and Tokyo Japan.
Roz Jenkins I have just this year gotten work more closely with Roz. She chairs the African American Education Roundtable and will not stop until education is equitable and excellent and the achievement gap is closed. She fights for our right to have a voice when decisions are made about our children. She will guide us through the education agenda for the upcoming legislative session.
Rita Green and Lina Brown It is refreshing to not have to worry about a problem because someone says "I got this." and means it. Well these two young women have Rainier Beach High School. And they are doing a great job of assuring that it does become a Baccalaureate High School and that African Americans are enrolled. Lina was recently honored at the White House for her volunteerism. 
Erica Newman She has been part of my support system that makes me able function as an Elder in our Village. She has been that for others also as she learns the ways of being a leader. She is willing to volunteer and do the work that is necessary for learning to lead and be heard. She is parenting a young child who will likewise grow to make us proud.
Nafisa Mussa She is the go to person in the Somalian Community. She came to America and grew into her purpose in this foreign place. She is everywhere, and is a great voice for both African born and African Americans. She is clear about the need for inclusion at every level of involvement of black people. 
Darryl Smith, he is our Deputy Mayor. He is a bit quiet but he has a big job and is doing it well. He listens. That is the best you can ask of any who is in politics, listen. And when a person in a leadership role listens to the many voices, it shows up in their accomplishments. 
Akua Kariamu a gifted and exceptional musician and teacher. She plays a violin like no other, and combined with her spoken word that comes from a soul so deep you can get lost in her. I told her that if I spoke a more natural language with the words and phrases that speak to brilliance I could describe her so much better. She smiled.
Sabrena Burr She is a parent and our African American voice for children and parents on the State PTSA Board. She is a legislative policy representative. Understanding education policy, the legislature and how their decisions impact our children's education is important. I partner with her at South Shore K-8 and she a key player in getting the Math Academy established. 
Dawn Bennett - We call her "Little Dawn" she is a dynamo as an organizer, a voice and advocate for the education of African American children. When she enters a room all know that Dawn has arrived. She showcases not only a we will prevail spirit but a head of some of the most beautiful locs in the region.
Dr.Quinton Morris  Is the Founder of the Young Eight String Octet, a professor and  Director of Chamber Music and Fine Arts at Seattle U. This year he performed a violin solo at Carnegie Hall, the ultimate for any musician. His is committed to introducing classical music to our children.
Keisha Scarlett This dynamo of a principal (South Shore K-8 in Seattle) is clearly on a trajectory to one day be Superintendent of one of Washington's School Districts. She is making not a difference but the difference that principals can make for children others say can not be brought to academic excellence. 4th and 5th graders doing Algebra early mornings before school even begins, yes! Math Academy on Saturdays Yes! Parents and community engaged, yes!
Council Member Victoria Woodards Besides being on Tacoma City Council she is dedicated  to reviving the Tacoma Urban League as its CEO. She came up through the ranks both in the military and and under the tutelage of Harold Moss another of our Washington Elders of Distinction. We spent time together on a panel for the AKA National Convention. 
Gary and Deborah Boune - they are transplants from Detroit and a welcome addition as small business owners. They own B2Fine Art Gallery in Tacoma. African Americans they teach that we must learn to purchase fine art as an investment and for the pleasure of owning nice art pieces for their homes.
Erin Jones Now if you have not met this woman, you have missed a treat. She recently left the Supt. of Public Instruction Office where she was Deputy Superintendent, and is now the Director of Diversity and Achievement at Federal Way Schools. I always smile when I think of Erin, her energy and passion for education is contagious. 
Dian Ferguson  I love Dian, smart, organized, focused and one of the best people to know when you want to get something done. She is a strategic advisor to the FAME Community Center.  She is also guiding the CAYA team back into full blown business. Last year she ran for City Council and kept in the debate issues important to African Americans and others like us who are too often overlooked or taken for granted. 
CAYA Team (Joe Stanton, JJ Wilkerson and Michael Ellis) they are the team breathing new life into CAYA. We do not have an organization in Seattle that has in its mission statement that they exist for African American youth. Our children are always sharing mission statement with others or linked in as at risk. Michael Preston, directed CAYA for years as a place known for producing African American scholars and winners.
Dr. Tamara Lewis I just met her but she is surely worthy of being on this list. She is a Naturpathic Physician, a Bastyr U. graduate. She practiced in NYC before returning to Seattle to set up practice. She has recently published a children's book HERBS ABC's it will be available on Amazon.com and Bastyr Book Store. Another must for our children and support for our sister. 

This is not an exhaustive list and I could have doubled it. There is so much great leadership among African Americans along the I-5 Corridor who are brilliant and creative and give so much compensated and uncompensated,  to make life in the Seattle/Tacoma metropolitan area one of the best regions in the nation who are not on this list. Let me know and I will surely make sure you are on the next one. 

I will be writing soon about the upcoming legislative session and encouraging every African American young and old to make it point to email, or testify or call Olympia to let them know that Yes, we are coming to collect on our votes. 

As always I want to hear about what you are doing. Leave a comment or email me. 

1 comment:

w-joye hardiman said...

Thank you so much Dawn for reminding us that INTER-GENERATIONAL ACTIVISM AND COMMITMENT TO THE POSITIVE DESTINY OF ALL PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL IN THE 1-5 COMMUNITY.