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Christmas Tree Lighting Town & Country Style

Town& Country Library Pavillion

With hot dogs on the grill, and people dressed in shorts and short sleeved shirts in 80 degrees weather, it appeared that the residents surrounding the Town & Country public library were celebrating the Yuletide in July. Not so. Last night the residents gathered for the tree lighting festivities signaling the start of the Yuletide spirit in December. This particular Town & Country community is located in Tampa, Florida.

Davis Elementary School Choir

The Davis Elementary school entertained the crowd with jazzed up Christmas tunes like Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad”. Thanks to the Town & Country Garden Center there were plenty of hotdogs and home baked cookies. The Garden Center sponsored the event which is now in its’ fourth year.

Members of Town & Country Garden Center Preparing Hot dogs

Santa paid the mostly Latino crowd a visit, and brought snowflakes with him. Yes, for the northern transplants there was a snow machine blowing out snowflakes.

There was also a line waiting for Santa upon his arrival. Alexander who was first in line was having nothing to do with the white bearded man dress in red. He did not however refuse the stuff animal Santa gave him. Alexander quickly leaped off Santa’s lap with stuff animal in one hand and his mother’s hand in the other.

It was just a fun night at this family oriented event.

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    Posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago at 4:56 pm. Add a comment

    A Warm November

    As I rounded the corner and made my decent from the top of the hill I saw her sitting on the front porch with her head hanging down. It had been an unusually warm November day. It was so warm I was carrying my coat instead of wearing it. It was the calm before the storm.

    We were on the playground for recess when Mrs. Purnell called out for us to line up and return to the classroom. As we came to order, she told us the bad news.

    As I walked up into the front yard her head rose and our eyes met. It was then I saw the tears streaming down her high cheekbones. At that moment I knew she had heard the bad news which broke during “As The World Turns”, one of her soap operas.

    The news was quite devastating for all of us, but it must have been even more devastating for her and her generation. She was born months before BlackTuesday and grew up during the Great Depression. Her father, who was born in S.C. had come to N.C. to find work that didn’t require him to pick cotton. She would laugh when she would tell us how her father would say that he had picked enough cotton for his children, his children’s children and his children’s children’s children. Therefore, it would be no more cotton picking in the family. He had found work as a laborer on a construction project at Dudley High School. It was her intent to see that her father’s promise was kept. She was a member of the PTA and stressed the importance of education to her children with a belt if they brought home unsatisfactory grades in their subjects and conduct.

    The same year she gave birth to her first child, Jackie Robinson had made the major leagues. She and her husband were so elated they named their only son Jackie.

    Then came the victory of Brown v. Board of Education. Things were looking bright for our community. The lunch counter sit-ins had initiated in the Gateway City where she was born raised. After the victory in desegregating the lunch counter, she took her children to eat at Woolworth’s Five and Dime in downtown Greensboro.

    In August of 1963 she had traveled to Washington D.C. with her older brother and attended the March On Washington. The March On Washington had uplifted the movement from a knockdown that came as a result of the Jackson, Mississippi murder of local NAACP President Medgar Evers, months earlier.

    Then came the horrific explosion in September. Four little girls were killed when the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed in Birmingham aka Bombingham , Alabama.

    On November 22, 1963 at approximately 12:30 PM Central Standard Time, the cloud from the Birmingham atrocity mushroomed as a result of another unthinkable atrocity in Dallas, Texas. That cloud loomed heavily on all America. The storm had commenced with the pull of a trigger and its’ crippling blow caught America off guard. President John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States had been assassinated as he was preparing his run for a second term. Civil Rights legislation was on his second term agenda.

    Walter Cronkite’s demeanor as he announced the confirmation of the President’s violent demise said it all. See video above.

    The black community had endured a lot of heinous crimes at the hands of racist, and we were raised to expect it. However, no one thought it possible that someone(s) would assassinate the President of the U.S. The shooting of the President in broad daylight next to his wife and before the media shook the core of this nation. Adding to the violence of 1963 was the murdering of Lee Harvey Oswald on live television by Jack Ruby. Oswald was President Kennedy’s alleged lone assailant.

    Froth with conspiracy theories, America has never been the same. Gun violence has unapologetically proliferated in our nation. This epidemic far too often embraces our children.

    Twenty four years later, I would experience another warm November. Ten days before the 24th anniversary of the assassination we would funeralize her. She did not live to see the election of Barack Obama. Instead she would endure the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. She was my mother.

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      Posted 9 months, 1 week ago at 10:21 pm. Add a comment

      A Great Day In Harlem: Photo Member Marian McPartland Dies At 95

      (L-R) Marian McPartland, Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk

      Grammy award winner Marian McPartland died last at her Long Island home. She was 95. Born Marian Turner, she was a musical prodigy at the age of three. She studied classical music and the violin, in addition to the piano.

      Marian pursued classical studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She developed a love for American jazz and musicians such as Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, Mary Lou Williams, and many others.

      In 1938, Marian left Guildhall to join Billy Mayerl’s Claviers, a four-piano vaudeville act. Performing under the stage name of Marian Page, the group toured throughout Europe during World War II, entertaining Allied troops.

      McPartland met and began performing with Chicago cornetist Jimmy McPartland in 1944 while touring with the USO. The couple soon married, playing at their own military base wedding in Germany. After the war, they moved to Chicago to be near Jimmy’s family. In 1949, the McPartlands settled in Manhattan.

      Marian started her own trio which enjoyed a long residency at a New York City jazz club, the Hickory House, during 1952–1960. She also played at The Embers and appeared as a regular on NBC’s Judge for Yourself quiz program.

      In 1958 a black and white group portrait of 57 notable jazz musicians, including McPartland, was photographed in front of a Brownstone in Harlem, New York City. Art Kane, a freelance photographer working for Esquire magazine, took the photo, which was called, “A Great Day in Harlem”, and it became an iconic view of NY’s Jazz scene at the time. As of Marian McPartland’s 95th birthday on March 20, 2013, she was one of only four of the 57 musicians who participated who was still living. Along with McPartland, other jazz notables featured in the photograph are Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, and saxophonist Benny Golson, who, like McPartland, is among the few still alive as of June 2013. The photo above shows McPartland in that iconic photo next to Mary Lou Williams and Thelonious Monk.

      After many years of recording for labels such as Capitol, Savoy, Argo, Sesac, Time, and Dot, in 1969 she founded her own record label, Halcyon Records, before having a long association with the Concord Jazz label.

      In 1964, Marian McPartland launched a new venture on WBAI-FM (New York City), conducting a weekly radio program that featured recordings and interviews with guests. Pacifica Radio’s West Coast stations also carried this series, which paved the way for Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, a National Public Radio series that began on 4 June 1978. It was the longest-running cultural program on NPR as well as one of the longest-running jazz programs ever produced on public radio. The program featured McPartland at the keyboard with guest performers, usually pianists, but also singers, guitarists, other musicians, and even the non-musician Studs Terkel.

      In 2004, Marian was awarded a Grammy , a Trustees’ Lifetime Achievement Award, for her work as an educator, writer, and host of NPR Radio’s long-running Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. A master at adapting to her guest’s musical styles and having a well-known affinity for beautiful and harmonically-rich ballads, Marian also recorded many tunes of her own. Her compositions included “Ambiance,” “There’ll Be Other Times,” “With You In Mind,” “Twilight World,” and “In the Days of Our Love.”

      Just before her 90th birthday, she composed and performed a symphonic piece, A Portrait of Rachel Carson, to mark the centennial of the environmental pioneer.

      McPartland was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.

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        Posted 1 year ago at 10:23 am. Add a comment

        Jesse Jackson Jr.: A New Chapter

        Jesse Jr. and Sandi Jackson


        As State lawmakers from around the country converged in Atlanta to announce an alliance to combat restrictive voting laws that have proliferated in recent years, Jesse Jackson Jr. was being sentenced to 30 months for his fraud conviction.

        Jackson the son of Civil Rights leader Jesse Jackson Sr. pled guilty to one count of fraud. Under sentencing guidelines, he faced 46 to 60 months in prison. Keeping their word, prosecutors recommended that he serve four years in prison and placed on supervised release for three years. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson was not bound by the guideline range. Nor was she bound by the prosecutor’s recommendation. The maximum penalty for the offense is five years in prison, plus three years of supervised release. Jackson has also agreed to pay a money-judgment forfeiture of $750,000. He also faced a fine of $10,000 to $100,000 under the guidelines.

        Judge Amy Berman Jackson was appointed as a United States District Judge in March of 2011. Prior to joining the Court, she was engaged in private practice in Washington, D.C. as a member of Trout Cacheris, where she specialized in complex criminal and civil trials and appeals. One of those complex criminal cases was the representation of former Rep. William Jefferson a nine-term New Orleans Democrat, in his 2009 corruption trial. The Virginia jury convicted him on 11 of 16 charges, and he’s serving 13 years in prison.

        Jackson himself a former member of U.S. House Of Representatives used $750,000.00 of campaign funds to purchase an array of personal items that included a Rolex watch, a mink cape, and Bruce Lee memorabilia.
        Jackson’s wife, Sandra, was also sentenced to one year in prison and was ordered to pay $22,000 in restitution, after pleading guilty to a related charge of filing false tax returns. Jackson also had to resign from Congress.

        Stating that there was a time when members of Congress could treat their campaign funds as retirement accounts, Jackson’s defense attorney, asked for an 18-month sentence.

        The prosecution argued to the contrary stating that it is one of the most significant abuses of the campaign system that has ever been documented and prosecuted. The government asked for four years in prison. “Jesse Jackson Jr.’s journey from the halls of Congress to federal prison is a tragedy of his own making,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen said in a statement. “Jackson’s political potential was unlimited, but he instead chose to treat his campaign account as a personal slush fund, stealing from the people who believed in him so he could live extravagantly. He squandered his great capacity for public service through outright theft. The prison sentence imposed today should serve as a wake-up call to other public officials who believe there are no consequences for betraying the public trust.” The government asked for four years in prison.

        Ronald Machen who is black is correct in his assessment of Junior. Jackson’s behavior is an affront to the civil rights movement. During that movement, many lost their lives to engage in the right to vote. Further in a few weeks, we will celebrating the 50th Anniversary on the March on Washington. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was a mentor to Junior’s father recited his famous “ I Have A Dream” Speech. Dr. King’s dream was not to have black elected official to use their political power to commit criminal acts that erodes the confidence of public trust. At a time when the minorities’ right to vote is threatened by restrictive voter ID laws and a Supreme Court ruling that sets aside a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, Jackson’s political power could have been used in a more positive way. The campaign funds would have been better spent on a re-election platform advocating a fair and balanced voter rights act than Bruce Lee memorabilia. Leading the Congress to equitable law preventing states from acting in any way to disenfranchise the minority vote would have paid tribute to the lives lost in the movement.

        Further as blacks are moved out of their communities and scattered throughout the county, the people of color will also find it hard to be elected. Blacks will be without black representation in Federal, State and local governments. Showing some leadership on the matter certainly would help his constituents as well as Jackson the politician as the Supreme Court makes a concentrated effort of increasing state rights and limiting Federal rights as it pertains to individual rights.

        U.S. District Judge Jackson said the Jacksons used the campaign funds as a “personal piggybank,” but she was confident that “there will be another chapter” for Jackson Jr. After acknowledging that Jackson did not pose a threat to society, Judge Jackson then opened the page to that new chapter entitled Jesse Jackson Jr. the Deterrent. “The ethical standard has got to be simply higher than unindicted,” she said. The Judge also ruled out probation stating that she would have trouble explaining a probation sentence to the donors whose campaigns funds the couple misused.

        The Judge felt a significant jail sentence was necessary to serve as a deterrent to other politicians who might consider raiding their campaign coffers for personal gain. The four years recommended by the prosecution certainly would have been significant, but the Judge apparently felt that 2 ½ years would be significant enough.

        Jackson’s wife will commence serving her 1 year a month after Jackson is released.

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          Posted 1 year ago at 9:39 pm. Add a comment

          While You Were Sleeping

          While you were sleeping, the neighborhood market was preparing for your visit. The shelves were re-stocked, the floors were mopped and waxed, the bathrooms were cleaned, and the vendor trucks were lined up to deliver more product.

          That neighborhood market is the Wal-mart Neighborhood Market. Unlike the Supercenters, it caters to groceries only.

          Gloria Hadley President of UNEINC Walmart Supplier


          This is a new concept and Wal-mart is eagerly pushing to open more around the country. They recently opened three in Jacksonville, Florida. At about 40,000 square feet it is less than half the size of the one stop shop supercenter which is about 100,000 square feet in size. Opened 24 hours, these smaller stores are easier to put up and unlike the Supercenters, they can go into urban areas.

          More than half of Wal-mart’s sales come from grocery items, leading the company to focus heavily on the neighborhood market concept. They are the future of Wal-mart.

          According to Jimmie Nelson manager of a neighborhood market located in the Tampa Florida the markets maintains the traditional Wal-mart focus on low prices and high customer courtesy and service. Nelson who has worked for Wal-mart for 5 years, makes it his personal priority to see that the store (including the bathrooms) is always clean and that the shelves are stocked with fresh product.

          The military veteran’s leadership shows through the Wal-mart associates working in his Kennedy Blvd store in Tampa, Florida.

          Jimmie Nelson (center crouching) and His Wal-mart Neighborhood Market Team


          Each member of his Neighborhood Market Team thrives to provide a pleasant shopping experience. They collect the carts from the well lit camera monitored parking lot 24 hours and assist customers in finding the location of desired shopping items.

          The store is centrally located in a very economically diverse area. It serves the very rich from the nearby affluent Hyde Park to the low income located north of Kennedy Blvd. It also serves the University of Tampa students who live on campus or in nearby apartments.

          No matter what the economic status may be, each customer is served with dignity and respect.

          The opening of neighborhood markets also means jobs. 200 new jobs were added in the Jacksonville market.

          Most stores are located in closed down grocery stores. For instance, the three in the Jacksonville market are located in what used to be Food Lion stores. The Tampa Florida store managed by Jimmie Nelson was once a Winn Dixie.

          The neighborhood markets are growing throughout the country. Don’t be surprised to see one popping up in your neighborhood soon.

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            Posted 1 year ago at 11:17 am. Add a comment