Monthly Archives: April 2012

Who Will Answer His Cries?

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Who Will Answer His Cries?
By, Celli Arenas

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At the beginning of this national tragedy, on February 26th, we were reminded of young Emmett Till; who was dragged through a Mississippi town for whistling at a white girl while at a service station, drinking a soda, and hanging out in a place that was vastly different from his Chicago home. Trayvon Martin stopped by a convenience store to get a snack of Skittles and Arizona ice tea; this would be his last snack. What happened in Sanford, Florida is just as appalling and unjust. Trayvon Martin, a Miami native, visited his father in Sanford Florida, and never returned home. His cries for help are still unanswered. His murderer, George Zimmerman, has yet to be brought to justice.

Zimmerman claims self-defense under the “Stand Your Ground Law”. Which court of his peers decided that this was indeed the case? As of April 9, 2012, there will be no Grand Jury to determine the fate of this case, thanks to State Attorney Angela Corey . There is enough evidence and reasonable suspicion that would require any court of law to, at very least, convict George Zimmerman of manslaughter. According to Corey, 57-year-old State Prosecutor and graduate of University of Florida Law says, “I just want to be fair.” Trayvon’s cries were unanswered by the Sanford Police Department. Zimmerman is still able to walk free, and even develop a web site to solicit money from citizens in an effort to fund his defense.

On March 22 and 24, the 100 Black Men of South Florida answered the cries of young Trayvon Martin, as they do for the several hundred, young African-American and other minority boys living in South Florida. The 100 Black Men of South Florida chartered a bus for anyone interested, to travel to Sanford, Florida for the first of many protests to bring justice to this unanswered tragedy. Several of South Florida’s political and religious leaders were aboard, reflecting on civil rights marches of the 60’s and wondering how something so heinous could be ignored. Reverend Walter Richardson, and State Representative Daphne Campbell, along with several others, availed themselves to take the ride to Sanford, with their male children in tow. “I was there for the march on Washington. I saw the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver the now famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. It is our duty to get involved,” says Richardson.

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“Anything I can do to help and represent for us, here in South Florida, I am there. I would not miss this event,” says Campbell. The ride for justice sparked a fire in the hearts and souls of the 100 Black Men. “I have a son Trayvon’s age. As our President said, he could have very well been my son,” says Director of Programs of the 100 Black Men of South Florida, Cliff Thomas.


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Saturday morning, March 24, 2012, there was a prayer breakfast at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens Florida, led by Pastor Arthur Jackson III and the 100 Black Men of South Florida. The event was hosted by past Senator Kendrick Meek and was attended by several members of political office such as: Senator Oscar Braynon II, Vice Mayor of Miami Gardens Oliver Gilbert, and candidate for State Congress Dr. Rudy Moise. They gathered in the Youth Hall of Antioch to have a candid conversation with the young men about strategy and prevention. “Part of what our youth needs to know is how to diffuse situations as best they can.” says Meek. “As a former law enforcement officer, when I get pulled over, I turn on my dome lights, so that I am visible to everyone as the car is approached.” He adds, “Conducting yourself in a way that could possibly save your life may not prevent danger, but at least it can help bring clarity to a dangerous situation.” National President of the 100 Black Men of America, Al Dotson says, “this was a great opportunity for the boys to be up close and personal with elected officials and community leaders. The adult men met the boys at their level and had an honest discussion with them about the Trayvon Martin case, living in America as a black man, and other concerns.” The 100 Black Men of Greater Ft. Lauderdale were also in attendance. While the murder of Trayvon Martin is not yet resolved, at least we know that the 100 Black Men of America hears his cries for justice and peace.

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Breaking News 4/11/12 @ 4:57 pm: George Zimmerman will be charged with second degree murder and is in custody!

“The Ladies in The Gardens”

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“The Ladies in The Gardens”- Female Vocalists Dominate JIG
By, Celli Arenas

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Photo by, Sugar Sugar

First she blankets us with her rich, operatic, soprano; then, she digs down deep and goes in to a sexy, voluptuous, alto to serve us some “Crown Royal on Ice”. Jill Scott, along with Ledisi, Mary J. Blige, and the incomparable Patti Labelle were some of the internationally renowned mega-stars who graced the stage at Jazz In The Gardens, held March 17th and 18th, 2012 in the historic Miami Gardens, Florida. Additionally, this year, world-famous female emcee, MC Lyte served as host of the star-studded event.

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Photo by, Anita Hope Darbonne

When I took a stroll through the crowd on Sunday, I asked patrons how they felt this year’s “Lucky 7″ line up compared to previous years. “This year is awesome, I loved Jill Scott, she was definitely my favorite”, says one concert attendee. “This year the ladies are definitely representing,” says Ken. Concertgoers were wowed at Ledisi’s vocal range and rocking looks. “I have seen Ledisi a couple of times in concert,” says Jerold. “She has a unique sound and she definitely delivers,” he says. “I must admit, she is also sexy as hell,” he gushes. Males and females alike, all agree that the ladies rolled the dice and came up as big winners in the “Lucky 7” concert weekend.

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Photo by, Sugar Sugar

I asked some of the more mature concertgoers about how they liked this year’s line up. “Well, I came for the first time because of Patti Labelle,” says Mary, a 65-year-old retired educator, “She is always a pleasure to see”. “I liked Kevin Eubanks and Kenny G, but I swear, that Patti gets better with age. Now, she is the show stopper,” says ‘50-something’- year-old bus driver, Ron. The lady, Ms. Patti-Patti, represents timeless, classic, vocal perfection; and, she loves to share the stage with today’s hit makers, too. Now that is star power.

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Photo by, Anita Hope Darbonne

Last, but not least, I must pay homage to my fave female of the bunch, MJB. I wanted to get a one-on-one with her, partially because I wanted to tell her that I have been a devoted fan since, “What’s the 411?” but, I also wanted to discuss her new projects, specifically the biopic on the life of Nina Simone. No luck for me! That’s fine. I still sang and danced with her as if it were my own private show. A friend sent me a text during her set, wondering where I was in the crowd. I had to let him know that I was having a MJB holy ghost and would check in later. Mary never disappoints as far as I am concerned.

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Photo by, Anita Hope Darbonne

Guys don’t fret or feel left out. The male acts were awesome too. Big shout out to Kem, Kenny G, Kevin Eubanks, Ramsey Lewis, and the unstoppable Doug E Fresh; but, this year fellas, the women stole the show. See ya in the Gardens, next year!

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Photos by, Celli Arenas

“A Class Act”-Mayor Shirley Gibson on Jazz in The Gardens

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“A Class Act”-Mayor Shirley Gibson on Jazz in The Gardens

By, Celli Arenas

The balmy spring air wafting the scent of soul food delights like: cracked conch, barbecued ribs, and garlic crabs, tickled my nose as I grooved to great music and shopped in the vendors square during The Jazz in The Gardens Music Festival. The enchanting city of Miami Gardens, Florida hosted the event on March 17-18, 2012. I had the good fortune to attend the 7th Annual “Lucky Seven” Jazz in The Gardens Music Festival, at Sun Life Stadium. For two days I enjoyed the beautiful music, sunny days, and breezy nights. While I snapped photos and received great samples from numerous sponsors, I also enjoyed some awesome entertainment from the hottest acts in Jazz and R&B music. During my stroll through the Gardens, guess who I found sampling handcrafted paper flowers, to accessorize a flowing floral colored ensemble? It was none other than one of the major contributors of this greatly anticipated event, Mayor Shirley Gibson. I got an opportunity to join her while surveying the wares made available during the festival. With the sounds Kevin Eubanks in the background, we talked. “I love what the event has done to attract interest, vendors, guests, to Miami Gardens,” explains Mayor Gibson as she reflects on the success of the yearly event. She explains how much the event has grown in its seven years of existence, and how the event attracts international attention, “ I appreciate how the city responds and turns out for this event. Just yesterday I spoke with a patron visiting from the Bahamas, who met with family here from England, so that they all could enjoy this experience together. The event is really a class act”, says Mayor Shirley Gibson with pride.

Mayor Shirley Gibson is the First Mayor of the City of Miami Gardens, which is the third largest city in Miami-Dade County, Florida. She is currently the only African-American female to hold office as Mayor in Miami-Dade County. Miami Gardens was founded due to the efforts of Shirley Gibson, who has, “a vision of political self-determination and civic empowerment for her community”. Mayor Gibson successfully led a dedicated group of her neighbors in creating the largest predominately African-American municipality in the state of Florida. Her efforts, along with many others, helped to provide a venue for what is quickly becoming one of the most highly anticipated musical festivals in the US and international markets.

After our conversation Mayor Gibson joined event host, MC Lyte, on stage to raise money for Cancer research, reminded patrons to continue to support the fair city of Miami Gardens, and encouraged us to return next year. She can bet on that! “Lucky Seven” was sweet, but I’m sure “Eight” will be great!

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