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The Phenomenal Event

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 the PHENOMENAL WOMEN IN MEDIA Awards ceremony held at the Eubie Blake Auditorium in Brooklyn’s, Von King Park. 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!!

Phenomenal Women of Our Time: Stars in the world of media and community service were honored at the Third Annual March Women’s History Month Awards and Brunch, Monday, March 29 at the Herbert Von King Park Cultural Arts Center in Bedford Stuyvesant. Seated center, Civil Rights pioneer and Freedomways editor Esther Cooper Jackson, 92, and Prospect Park Administrator Tupper W. Thomas were the 2010 Hattie Carthan Award honorees. The work and milestone achievements of 25 phenomenal women, including journalists, writers, authors, reporters, news publicists, broadcasters, out-reachers, media information specialists that, as Von King Park manager Lemuel Mial said, “connects us with the stories that matter to all of us,” were celebrated and applauded. Borough President Marty Markowitz issued a Proclamation declaring the day, Von King Park Phenomenal Women’s History Month Day. These queens of New York City media include, standing, left to right: Susan McHenry, founding editor, Black Issues Book Review; Claud Leandro, Program Director, One Caribbean Radio; Carolyn Butts, President, African Voices Communications, Inc; Sarah Frazier, Communications and Media Relations, NYC Parks & Recreation; Maitefa Angaza, Editor, African Voices Magazine; Victoria Horsford, journalist and PR management consultant; Gayle DeWees, journalist, NY Daily News; Janel Gross, Managing Editor, Afro Times; Petra Symister, Founder, Bed-Stuy Blog; Dr. Teresa Taylor-Williams, Publisher, NY Trend newspaper; Monique Greenwood, former Essence editor-in-chief; Stacy-Ann Gooden, weather anchor, News 12 Brooklyn; Lupe Todd, Vice President, Goerge Arzt Communications; Rosalind McLymont, editor-in-chief, The Network Journal; Margot Jordan, global photo journalist; and Faybiene Miranda, co-host, Global Medicine Review, WBAI; and seated, from left to right: Nayaba Arinde, editor-in-chief, NY Amsterdam News; Dr. Brenda Greene, Host, Writers on Writing, WNYE; Aminisha Black, The Parents’ Notebook columnist, Our Time Press; Esther Cooper Jackson, Managing Editor, Freedomways and Civil Rights pioneer; Prospect Park Administrator and spokesperson, Tupper W. Thomas; Gloria Dulan-Wilson, feature writer and reporter; Joanne Cheatham, publisher of Pure Jazz Magazine and Fern Gillespie, journalist and national media consultant. “We honor you,” said event co-host Graham Weatherspoon,” because you honor us. You are the heartbeat of the community, the rhythm, the pulse.”

You see, I, along with 24 other Phenomenal Women (I really like the sound of that – PHENOMENAL) were honored by Our Time Press and Herbert Von King Park Cultural Arts Center for our various roles in the realm of the media and its impact and influence we’ve had in keeping our base – the Black community, i.e., YOU, informed on issues of impact and importance to you – in such a way that it doesn’t insult you, but (hopefully) inspires you to action, give you an alternative to the propaganda being spewed out at you via the mainstream market tabloids.
Each of the recipients was a diva in her own right. Each had a mark of distinction in the Black community. And, I daresay, we 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 have to be collaborative in our approach, or you’ll never get the truth. We are not here to be a miniature image of the same paper that’s been insulting you all these years. We take issue with the kinds of information, the tone of the article, the content. But we are likewise not here to criticize the mainstream press (that is unless they are so blatantly racist that something has to 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 superstar artist, athlete, politician, we also write about issues that affect everyday 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 Bernice Green, David Greaves, Graham Weatherspoon, Mr. and Mrs. Lemuel and Charlotte Renee Mial; Our Time Press, Von King Park 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 who were also so honored and revered on that Monday, March 29, 2010.

Mrs. Esther Cooper-Jackson with Gloria Dulan-Wilson at the honoree reception before the awards. Photo: Barry L. Mason

To cap off this wonderful day, we had the honor of meeting and being photographed with the grande dame of media and publiations, Mrs. 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 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 little lady who, at 92, continues to hold her own in the world of contemporary knowledge. She brought her best friend, who just celebrated her 95th birthday, as her special guest for the PHENOMENAL WOMEN IN MEDIA AWARDS CEREMONY. Inspirational to those who realize that if we do it right, we might just make it to that age, and look that good, as well.
The women pictured on page 5 are the PHENOMENAL MEDIA WOMEN I had the honor of sharing the stage with. These are the women who have accomplished so much in their lives individually and collectively.

The Phenomenal Woman statuette, one of the gift bag surprises for the awardees, was formed in the kilns of the Herbert Von King Cultural Arts Center, under the guidance of John Llanos. Photo: Ammar Chughtai

Each of us received a statuette of a Black woman who depicted both our African and African-American Roots (Routes), as well as a hand-cast “envelope” with each of our names on it; as well as some wonderful beauty products produced by Jahbulant (347-834-0266 /you gotta try their stuff, it’s fantastic); and 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 Bernice Green and David Greaves and Charlotte and Lemuel Mial was not lost on the recipients either (as noted by MC Graham Weatherspoon, whose wife Irza, sat in the audience cheering him on).
However, while each has played roles in the enlistment of the Black community in their own right, who knew that Lemuel Mial had such a wonderful voice? He sings with a group called U4RIA, and nearly knocked the audience out of their seats as he serenaded us with a song he had written in honor of the occasion entitled “Nothing Like a Woman”, which he co-authored with Larry Banks, musician and artist extraordinaire (available at www.U4RIA or 718-622-7638). 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 they deserve.
I would personally like to thank each and every individual who had anything to do with the ceremonies held at VON KING PARK, including the Culinary Center, 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.

By Gloria Dulan Wilson