by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Back in the day, The Impressions with Curtis Mayfield sang a song entitled “Too Much Love” which said in part, ‘never in this world can there be too much love.’
And I certainly felt that sentiment was expressed over and over again at Herbert Von King Park’s 2010 Women’s History Month PHENOMENAL WOMEN IN MEDIA awards event, Monday, March 29 in the Eubie Blake Auditorium, 670 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Charlotte Renee Mial, event visionary and founder, -executive produced with her husband Lemuel Mial, the park manager. Writer/publisher Bernice Elizabeth Green was the co-producer under her Project Green initiative. The event mistress and master of ceremonies were Cheryl Todmann, director of Public Affairs, Brooklyn Community Services, and Graham B. Weatherspoon, recurring host on MNN cable’s “The Gilchrist Experience” and a community spokesperson and opinion writer.
Wow! From the moment you stepped through the door, you were treated like royalty. Adults and youth alike were all there to make sure you had the best experience and most enjoyable time ever.
And so I did; and so we did!!
You see, I, along with 24 other Phenomenal Women (I really like the sound of that – PHENOMENAL!) were honored by Charlotte Renee Mial as “unsung” women in the communications field. But on March 29, Charlotte wrote A Love Song for us! We were heralded for our various roles in the realm of media and our impact on keeping our base — the Black Community, i.e., YOU — informed on issues of importance to you — in such a way that it doesn’t insult you, but (hopefully) inspires you to action, and gives you an alternative to the propaganda being spewed out via some mainstream-market tabloids.
Each recipient was a diva in her own right. Each had a mark of distinction in the Black community. And I daresay, we do take the time to read each other because we respect each other’s work. You see, we don’t see each other as competitors; because Black news venues can’t afford to compete against each other, and at the same time try to deal with the onslaught of distortions, lies and disrespect routinely found in the mainstream media. We must be collaborative in our approach, or you’ll never get the truth. We are not here to be miniature images of the same papers that’ve been insulting you all these years. We take issue with the kinds of information, the tone of the articles, the content. But we are likewise not here to criticize the mainstream press (that is, unless they are so blatantly racist that something must be said!).
We are here to give you the NEWS about us as a people regardless of where we are and who we are. We don’t just cover the rich and famous, the gifted and talented, the super star artist, athlete, politician. We also write about issues that affect every day African American men, women, children, workers, educators, ministers, homemakers, families.
So far, none of us have won a Pulitzer — doesn’t mean we can’t or that we don’t want to. There were also plenty of award winners amongst us, already recognized for their prodigious body of work.
I, however, must confess that this is the first time that I was so honored, by being feted by peers and people in the community. It was the first time that I was the subject of the award, instead of covering someone who was. It was the first time that I had to stand still for the paparazzi instead of being part of those who were taking the endless photos of everything I did, every move I made. Wow!!! So that’s what it feels like.
So, before I go any further, please allow me to say to Executive Producers Mr. & Ms. Lemuel and Charlotte Renee Mial; Bernice, Cheryl, Graham, and the Von King Park Staff, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! with all the heartfelt sincerity and love I can muster. You yourselves are such a blessing in this world, what an honor!
And I know that this appreciation is expressed, not just for myself, but for the women listed below, who were also so honored and revered on that Monday, March 29, 2010. They included:
MAITEFA ANGAZA (aka Judith Halsy): Editor, African Voices; author, “Kwanzaa From Holiday to Every Day;” and former editor of The City Sun (you remember that revolutionary Black publication, don’t you?)
NAYABA ARINDE: Editor, Amsterdam News (since 2005; former Senior Reporter, Daily Challenge (the City’s Only Black Daily); three-time A. Philip Randolph Messenger awardee.
AMINISHA BLACK: Community Activist/Educator; author of “The Parent’s Notebook” column in Our Time Press.
CAROLYN BUTTS: President/Founder of African Voices Communications, Inc., publisher of African Voices Magazine; Recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts, NYS Council of the Arts and Dept. of Cultural Affairs Challenge Program grants.
JOANN CHEATHAM: Publisher, Pure Jazz Magazine, the literary arm of the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium (CBJC), which covers stories that honor jazz artists, contemporary and classical.
GAYLE DeWEES: Writer-reporter for the NY Daily News “Faces & Places,” “At a Glance,” “Faith in the City,” and “What’s On for The Weekend.” Gayle also worked for the late great jazz vocalist Betty Carter.
GLORIA DULAN-WILSON: feature writer, who considers herself an Information Actionist — in other words she supplies you with the information that you can act on. In addition to articles in the Daily Challenge and the African Sun Times, you can catch her blog, www.gloriadulan-wilson.blogspot.com. Four of us had either written for or currently write for the Daily Challenge, founded by Publisher Thomas H. Watkins: Nayaba Arinde, Maitefa Angaza, Janel Cross, and Gloria Dulan-Wilson. I laughingly called us “Watkins’ Women” (don’t know if that went over so well, though).
FERN GILLESPIE: Writer, Radio producer, Public Relations executive who has worked with such greats as James Brown, Michael Jackson, the late Percy Ellis Sutton, John H. Johnson, Byron Lewis, Cathy Hughes, Woodie King Jr., Vy Higginson, Imhotep Gary Byrd, and many other history-makers. She currently heads public relations for the New York and New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council.
STACY-ANN GOODEN: Jamaican-born nightly weather anchor for News 12 Brooklyn; former Good Day host, New York, Traffic Authority; participant in Harlem USA’s Celebrity Read-A-Thon.
DR. BRENDA GREENE: Executive Director of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY; chair National Black Writers Conference; weekly radio program Writers on Writing on WNYE 91.5 FM; professor of English at Medgar Evers College, and one of the most dynamic women you’ll ever meet –(she had just literally wrapped up the 4-day National Black Writer’s Conference the day before the award ceremony!! She did not look one bit tired; not one hair out of place – how does she do it????)
MONIQUE GREENWOOD: The entrepreneur, publisher and founder of Akwaaba House (opened in 1995), is former editor and chief of Essence Magazine; author of “Having What Matters: The Black Woman’s Guide to Creating the Life You Really Want” and co-founder, “Go On Girl! Book Club,” the largest AA in the U.S.
JANEL GROSS: Managing Editor of the Afro-Times, weekly arm of the Daily Challenge News, who takes pride in providing opportunities for emerging local writers and photographers. Public relations officer for Jack and Jill of America.
VICTORIA HORSFORD: New York Columnist’s “What’s Going On” is published in the New York Beacon, Carib News, African Sun Times. The Public Relations specialist worked with Spike Lee on his She’s Gotta Have It, and Richard Pryor on JoJo Dancer, Your Life is Calling!
MARGOT JORDAN: Photojournalist who has worked locally is recognized globally for capturing the news-breaking moments in her lens. She’s a former producer of KISS-FM Wake Up Club; and the Entertainment Report for Wendy Williams (at WBLS-FM).
CLAUD LEANDRO: Program Director, One Caribbean Radio 97.9 HD2, the only 24-hour Caribbean-centric radio station; formerly with Radio Antilles in Montserrat.
SUSAN McHENRY: The Founding Editor of Black Issues Book Review (BIBR), Managing Editor of Emerge Magazine; a former Senior Editor of MS, Essence and Working Woman; and award-winning content Producer.
ROSALIND KILKENNY McLYMONT: Editor-in-Chief, The Network Journal; partner in McLymont, Kunda & Co.; first Black managing editor of the Journal of Commerce, the oldest daily business newspaper in the US. Writes a monthly column entitled Africa Focus.
FAYBIENE MIRANDA: Producer of Global Medicine Review; she is a lyricist, poet, performer, having appeared with Kamau Brathwaite, The Last Poets, Mutabaruka, among others.
JEANNE PARNELL: City Lights host on WHCR-FM, former assistant principal with the NYC Board of Education, has been on-air personality for WLIB, WWRL, WNYE; and written for the Daily Challenge and Amsterdam News.
MARCIA PENDELTON: Founder and president of Walk Tall Girl Productions, a marketing, audience development and group sales company.
PAT STEVENSON: Founder and publisher of Harlem News Group, a Harlem based corporation that publishes four newspapers, including Harlem Community News.
LUPE TODD: Vice President, George Artz Communications; spokesperson for a number of top-level political leaders and elected officials, including Congressman Edolphus Towns, NYC Councilman Albert Vann (36th-CD), New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Kings County Civil Court Judge Jaqueline Williams, among many others. Lupe also serves as press relations specialist for Corey Booker, Mayor of the City of Newark, N.J.
DR. TERESA WILLIAMS-TAYLOR: Founder/Owner/Publisher, New York Trend Newspaper, the largest Black-owned paper on Long Island.
ESTHER COOPER JACKSON: To cap off this wonderful day, we had the honor of meeting and being photographed with the grand dame of media and publications, Ms. Esther Cooper Jackson, who served as editor of FREEDOMWAYS for 25 years from 1961 through 1986. The Alabama native, who is a delight to talk with, has a knowledge, understanding and love of Black history that goes far beyond just the publication of the quarterly publication and into the very soul of what makes us who we are. I had the distinct honor to have an all-too-brief conversation with this esteemed, teeny, graceful lady, who, at 92, continues to hold her own in the world of contemporary knowledge. She brought her best friend, Dorothy Burnham (who just celebrated her 95th birthday), as a special guest. These two great women were escorted to and from the event in a special car by host Graham Weatherspoon. Upon arrival, two young people were assigned to serve Ms. Jackson and Ms. Burnham and satisfy their every request. Inspirational to all of us other “Phenomenals” who realize that if we do it right, right now, we might just make it to their ages, be appreciated and look that good, as well.
Ms. TUPPER W. THOMAS rounded out the list of recipients for her ongoing efforts to preserve the natural parklands in Brooklyn, most ostensibly Prospect Park. The HATTIE CARTHAN AWARD, named for the lady who protected the rare Magnolia Tree from being chopped down in Brooklyn, and who started a generation of preservationists of natural foliage, was given to Ms. Thomas. She is the co-chair of the City Parks Alliance of New York.
Those are the PHENOMENAL MEDIA WOMEN with whom I had the honor of sharing the stage. These are the women who have accomplished so much in their lives individually and collectively. Each of us received a kiln-fired 14-inch statuette of a Black woman. Designed by Von King Park octogenarian sculptor Mr. John Llanos, it reflected both our African and African American Roots (Routes). We also received a hand-cast ceramic mail-and-pen holder shaped into an “envelope” (also produced by Mr. Llanos) with each of our names on it; some wonderful beauty products produced by Ambulant (ya gotta try their stuff, it’s fantastic); Essence Magazines as well as corporate products donated by Pepperidge Farms (thanks for their support).
A presentation by Ollie McLean’s Sankofa School, whose three little Phenomenal Women-in-the-making displayed their place in the future of Black history by totally knowing all the countries of Africa and the African pledge, was an example of what can happen when you design a program around respect for one’s culture, coupled with educational excellence (one of the little ladies made an error on an African country, and her younger 6-year-old counterpart took her to task — too cute!)
Likewise, the significance of the double-duo husband and wife teams of Charlotte & Lemuel Mial and Bernice Green & David Greaves, co-founders and publishers of Our Time Press, was not lost on the recipients either (as noted by MC Graham Weatherspoon, whose wife, Irsa, sat in the audience cheering him.)
And who knew that Lemuel Mial had such a WONDERFUL voice???? He sings with a professional group called U4RIA, and he nearly knocked the audience out of our seats as he serenaded us with a song entitled, “Nothing Like a Woman” which he co-authored in honor of the occasion with Larry Banks, Von King Park music artist and artist extraordinaire. In fact, from the response of the women in the audience, he compared favorably to Smokey Robinson, Teddy Pendergrass, and others (WOW!)
Circling back to my opening statement: there can never be too much love for each other in the Black Community. In fact, an overabundance of love is exactly what is needed to offset what we’ve endured over the past 400 years and the most recent 40 coming out of the Civil Rights Era.
We need more events such as these where we unabashedly celebrate The Good, we bring to each other in the community.
Where, like the Japanese, we take the time to really celebrate each little victory, instead of waiting ‘til the person has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel before we give them the accolades deserved.
I would personally like to thank each and every individual who had anything to do with the ceremonies held at VON KING PARK on that phenomenal day, including the Culinary Center; and for all you did to make that rainy day one of the sunniest and brightest days ever. And thank you for a gift-bag so heavy it needed an extra set of wheels to get it home!
We are truly loving you for loving us so much.
(*This reprint of the April 1, 2010 feature was revised March 3, 2021 by editor Bernice Elizabeth Green. A 2021 update on these Phenomenal Media Women will be featured in Our Time Press, later this Spring)