Saturday, July 30, 2011

Today is the 6th Queen City Jazz Fest - Buffalo New York

Today they held the 6th Annual Queen City Jazz Fest outdoors in front of the Colored Musicians Jazz Club.

The event was free and open to all.

This is one of Buffalo's top events of the year.

There is no other place in the world like Buffalo's Colored Musicians Club.

In the 1930's, 40's, and 50's, all the great stars of jazz that came to town stopped in at the Colored Musicians Club to jam with their friends and local musicians. The club offers live jazz in an intimate setting, and some of the best jazz you can find anywhere. It is open to non-members who want to share a love of jazz, and are seeking a relaxing time in a friendly place.

The Buffalo Colored Musicians Club at 145 Broadway is as endearing a place as it is historically significant. The club holds memories of times past when it was nothing for jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne to be passing through.

Through the years the club fostered an environment where people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds could come together over a mutual love of the American phenomenon called jazz.

Before the Colored Musicians Club found its permanent home at 145 Broadway in 1934, it was housed in other locations. When the Colored Musicians Club moved into 145 Broadway it was merely a vacant storefront. The actual building had been constructed between 1880 and 1900 and it initially housed the shop of boot and shoemaker Charles Zifle, then Michael McNamara's cigar and tobacco stand, a billiards parlor, several union locals and Niagara China and Equipment Company. (Davis)

The Colored Musicians Club received its charter and became incorporated on May 14, 1935. At this point, the club utilized the space upstairs for practice, rehearsals, and performances while, downstairs, the union would hold its meetings.

In 1979, the Club was granted historic landmark status. In 1999, the Club was designated a historical preservation site. Today, the Colored Musicians Club is the only remaining African American club in the entire United States and, as such, it actively encourages historical research and preservation of the history of jazz in Buffalo


Today - The weather was perfect and the music was outstanding.

Hundreds came out and enjoyed the good music and good company.

This is one of Buffalo's top events of the year and I am so glad that it happens just about one mile from my home. A big thank you to the organizers and the musicians. A perfect day!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When Hatred Rears It's Ugly Head - Some Solutions

Hate is like acid. It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well as destroy the object on which it is poured. - Ann Landers

What can we do about changing racist attitudes? It takes courage to make change in attitudes and guts to be able to stand up to the bullies of the world.

Racism and hatred are usually based on ignorance or lack of understanding. There are so many things that we can do on a daily basis if we become committed to make a change.
Here is a list of suggestions that are quite easy to start with:

Knowledge is power – Do you follow a specific religion ? All of the major faiths have statements against hatred of others and racism. Do you know what your sacred book says? (The Holy Bible, Vedas, Koran, Sunnah, Agama, Talmud, Hebrew Bible and the Sutta Pitaka)
Read and learn. If you believe in a higher power then pray for those who are persecuted and those who do the persecuting.

Become aware of ethnic stereotypes - Challenge the offensive names, jokes and comments. If someone uses a hurtful name in our presence, we might simply say, "Don't call them that. Call them by their name." If you are the victim, simply say "That kind of joke offends me," or say "You don't like to be called bad names and neither do I". We should become comfortable in pointing out unfairness. Be polite but firm. Ethnic jokes are not innocent humor, they carry the virus of bigotry most of the time.

Educate yourself about other cultures - and the history of the Civil Rights Movement and other non-violent struggles for justice. Read what authors from various ethnic backgrounds have written to gain positive insights into other cultures.

Speak up - If you should witness an act of hatred let someone know about it. Report it to the authorities if necessary. Be courageous in standing up for what is right. Be supportive of the victim(s).

Share your joy - Have you ever invited people other than your cultural group at an occasion of happiness in your family? Whether it's a wedding or the blessing of a newborn baby, expand your next guest list to include those of different backgrounds. Sharing joy is a great way for people of all ethno-cultural groups to bond.

Share your sorrow - Have you visited a sick colleague, class fellow or a neighbor of another ethnic group? Have you been to the funeral of one from another culture? Relationships are not only built on the good times, but on the hard ones as well. Visit the sick, attend funerals, and console those who need it, and don't reserve your sympathy to those of the same skin color or country. Learn the meaning of the various traditions and rituals that may be different from your own. You don't have to adopt the customs but it is important to know about them.

Break bread with others - It is said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Have you learned to cook the food of other cultures? Have you shared your food with them? Food is a great way to bring people together, and to get to know others. Share food with your neighbors. Learn about which foods are not eaten by certain faiths, for example meat or pork.

Who do you smile at? Do you limit your grins to groups you know, especially your ethno-cultural group? Smiles open closed hearts.

Teach your children - Make sure that your children are exposed to other cultures. Studies show that children playing and working together toward common goals develop positive attitudes about one another. Raising hate free children is a challenge. Make sure that your children do not absorb the negative attitudes of some who practice discrimination on a regular basis.

Welcome strangers - How are you at welcoming strangers in your place of worship? Do you move forward in welcoming, guiding and introducing them to others or do you allow a stranger to remain a stranger while you busily chat with your own cultural group?

Watch those expressions and attitudes - Did you see that twist of the mouth, or the raise of that eyebrow? Sometimes, it's not just words, but facial expressions that also indicate ethno-racial degradation and intolerance. It's not enough for us to just avoid verbal jabs. Language is not just about words; it's about body language too.

Stand up for justice - Take an active stand against injustices like profiling and discrimination in the workplace or at schools. Speak out in support for someone or a group being paid less because of their national background.

Volunteer - Work with other anti-racism groups - Volunteer time to organizations and groups which are working for an anti-racism agenda or for social justice. Put your time and energy to projects that put your beliefs into practice.

Overcome your own personal stereotypical beliefs - this is not just for the European culture. This is something that all cultures learn along the way - unlearn some of the things you were taught.

I could write at least 50 or more suggestions but if you practice a few of these you will find that your life has become more enriched.

I have lived in, and travelled to many countries and have always found that there are more similarities than differences with other people. We all want the best for our children, to be able to financially support our families and to be able to have freedom of choice in our faith.

We must stand up for each other - it is the right thing to do.
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Reflection - An Instrument of Thy Peace

Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace,

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


St. Francis of Assisi - 13th century

I have to remind myself of the words of St Francis of Assisi frequently.
Not sure if I can live up to them but I continue trying to be the best 'me' I can be in order to make just a small difference in the world.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Buffalo - Remembering the Underground Railroad

Broderick Park is located on Squaw Island, (Buffalo), in the Niagara River,
and overlooks the Canadian border.

The park is of Historical significance to the Underground Railroad.

The ultimate destination haven for many escaping slavery was Canada, Fort Erie, just over the river, was a key entry point. The land that the Park is on was the last stop on the Underground Railroad before the enslaved people crossed the Niagara River into Canada.

This area is historically important in that it served as a transit area for African-Americans heading for the border, on the opposite side of the Niagara River. These activities were before the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which to some measure brought about the 'nationalizing' of some of the consequences of the slavery practiced in the Southern states, and increased flow of African-Americans travelers seeking liberty in Canada. Buffalo's own Millard Fillmore who, as President of the United States, signed this measure into law.

Yesterday 150 members of St Paul Community Baptist Church of East Brooklyn, NY came to Broderick Park in Buffalo for a MAAFA Healing Ceremony.

The purpose of the MAAFA Commemoration is a spiritual experience aimed at healing our collective memories and building community reconciliation. The residuals of enslavement and racism are a part of our historical landscape. The MAAFA SUITE…A Healing Journey®, a powerful psychodrama, is the beginning of a healing and educational process related to an overlooked chapter of history that has affected people of all races and cultures, and a means of increasing our awareness of and efforts to undo institutionalized racism.

A healing service was held to remember the ancestors and to honor their memory.
MAAFA (pronounced MAH-AH-FAH) is a Kiswahili word that means great calamity, catastrophe, tragedy or disaster. It was introduced into contemporary African American scholarship by Dr. Marimba Ani to redefine the period in world history formerly identified as the Middle Passage or Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The Commemoration of The MAAFA involves memorializing and honoring the millions of Africans lost in the horror of this nightmare.

The location is situated within easy view of the Peace Bridge, which links the State of New York with the Canadian Province of Ontario at Fort Erie. In former days the transport was small private boats provided by many who put their own lives at risk in order to help Harriet Tubman who led the runaways into Canada.

“Moses” is coming! You’ve heard the stories about her. Harriet Tubman, a former slave who ran away from a nearby plantation in 1849 but returns to rescue others. Guided by her “visions,” she never lost a passenger. Even if Moses can’t fit you into her next group, she’ll tell you how to follow the North Star to freedom in Canada.

It took courage, luck, help, and incredible stamina. Once in Canada, they could finally breathe free. Not only did the government not return you to slavery in the United States, but you could vote and even own land. No wonder thousands had already run away to settle here. There were still challenges: finding a home, making a living, adjusting to a new place.

The dancers sing and tell the story to help people understand the nature of the oppression inflicted on generations of Africans in America.

The men, women and children perform traditional joyful dances from Africa


Three of the 35 Underground Railroad sites are in Western New York. They are the Michigan Street Baptist Church in Buffalo, a legendary Underground Railroad station; Murphy Orchards in Burt, where, for more than 20 years, the McClew family sheltered escaped slaves before moving them to the next station; and the Root House in Pekin, home of abolitionist Thomas Root, which was one of the last stops on the railroad. From here, in the 1850s, formerly enslaved people were transported to the Canadian border hidden in farm wagons full of produce.

The Underground Railroad, largely forgotten and ignored by history, has resurfaced in the past decade with the increased interest in heritage tourism. The far-flung Underground Railroad was a unique cooperative effort among blacks, whites and Native Americans; males and females; rich and poor; Northerners and Southerners.

If you are interested in learning more about the Underground Railroad in the Buffalo area there are tours that include the Michigan Street Baptist Church in Buffalo; the Thomas Root Home, a major stop on the Underground Railroad; and the Erie Canal, which played an important part of the road in New York.


Thank you to the visitors from St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East Brooklyn NY who came to Buffalo to give honor to the ancestors who travelled these paths. Your service was beautiful and a moving experience for those who were able to watch.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

If It is Thursday it's Going Green - Going on Vacation

Before leaving for a vacation:

Unplug rarely used appliances and chargers that are not in use.

Unplug the TV, toaster oven and other well-used appliances before you leave on vacation (or more frequently).

If it’s not plugged in, it can’t suck energy. You can save up to 10% off your electric bill by unplugging your appliances at night.

Also, turn down the temperature on your hot water heater and on the furnace or air conditioner.

Have fun on your vacation!


Do you need a new appliance?

Buy energy-efficient appliances bearing the Energy Star label.

That way, at least less energy will be used.

Find a list of products at

This can save you money and help the environment.

Remember that even the very small changes that we make to conserve energy will save us money on our bills and help the environment.

'Together we can make a difference'


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

i carry your heart with me........E.E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)


Beautiful words to reflect on.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Reflection - Consider the Lilies of the Field

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat;
nor about the body, what you will put on. . .

Consider the ravens,
for they neither sow nor reap,
which have neither storehouse nor barn;
and God feeds them.
Of how much more value are you than the birds? . . . .

Consider the lilies, how they grow:
they neither toil nor spin;
and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

If then God so clothes the grass,
which today is in the field
and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,
how much more you, O you of little faith?

And do not seek what you should eat
or what you should drink,
nor have an anxious mind.

For all these things the nations of the world seek after,
and your Father knows that you need these things.
But seek the Kingdom of God,
and all these things shall be added to you.

--Jesus Christ (Luke 12:22, 30-31)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Travel on the Fourth of July Holiday...........

Those of you who know me well, know that I do not travel on the major highways and I thoroughly enjoy puttering along to my destination by taking the scenic route.

Nothing - and I do mean nothing - could make me take a highway and be one of these cars pictured below. Just look at that backlog!

This Holiday week-end has many people traveling on the highways around the United States.

The entrance to the Peace Bridge to Canada is at the end of the road that I live on and
for the last couple of days there have been warnings that there may be a 90 minute wait to go over the bridge.
I was really happy to learn that very soon we may have another alternative to car travel. Did you know that there are plans underway for cars that can also fly AND have approval from the Federal Aviation Administration?

Here is the : The Terrafugia Transitio

This private aircraft – odd looking car has been in the news before. But the announcement that it's going into production has been greeted with excitement.

The news reports explain that the FAA's special exemption allows the vehicle to function as both a "light aircraft" and a car. Normally, for a plane to meet the "light aircraft" designation, it can weigh no more than 1,200 pounds. The Terrafugia Transition weighs 1,320, due primarily to the number of car-related safety features, like airbags and crumple zones. The "light aircraft" designation is key, because licenses for planes with that label require only 20 hours of flying time.

How does the plane-car work? So far, 70+ people have placed a deposit. The total retail cost: $194,000. Expensive, but really, can you put a price on skipping commercial flights?

I have decided to start saving so that I can be one of the first people to own a Terrafugia Transitio - no matter that I currently drive a 12 year old car with 140,000 miles on it. I could take off from my garden and soar over the Niagara river to Canada in just 4 or 5 minutes. Hmmm... would I need a passport to arrive that way? Who would be up in the sky directing all of the little flying cars ? Will there be traffic signs telling me to stay in my own lane and how about double yellow lines? Will the traffic cops be attached to their own little flying parachutes?

Well, I will let them work all of that out! Meanwhile I am staying here in my own garden for the holidays and all I have to do is look up to the sky to watch the downtown fireworks right in my neighborhood.

Hmmmmm.....what would little flying cars do if the fireworks entered their path of travel.....not to worry I won't have that $194,000 saved for a while yet - I will think all of the details through when I have the money and can purchase the car- will it come in the color blue - until then good luck to those of you who will be a dot on the highway like the cars in the pictures above.

This 4th of July week-end I am going nowhere - a cookout in the back yard is fine with me.

Happy 4th July to all - unless you are in England and, of course, we do not celebrate the fourth of July in England for some rather obvious reasons - we usually choose to ignore the whole thing :-)