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Novella Nelson

Artist extraordinaire Novella Christine Nelson, 77, transitioned on August 31. A Brooklyn, New Yorker, she attended NYC public schools(K-12) and earned a degree at Brooklyn College in theater.   A vocalist and a film and TV actress with a long filmography, Novella had memorable roles in Hollywood feature films like Denzel Washington’s “Antwone Fisher Story”, Chris Rock’s “Head of State”, Spike Lee’s “Clockers” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club”. In theater, she played off-Broadway productions of “Horseman” and “Pass By”. She performed in a revival of the Truman Capote/Harold Arlen musical “House of Flowers”, which led to a role as Pearl Bailey’s standby in “Hello Dolly” at the St. James Theater.    Her Broadway credits include the original production of “Purlie”, the musical “Caesar and Cleopatra” with Rex Harrison and Elizabeth Ashley, and Hellman’s “Little Foxes”.

Novella, the vocalist, was a fixture in the New York 70s nightclub scene. She packed clubs like the Village Vanguard, Reno Sweeney’s and Upstairs at the Downstairs, to overflow with fans and aficionados. Novella, the director, began at the NY Shakespeare Festival. She directed “La Femme Noire” by Edgar White and “Bailey’s Café” by Gloria Naylor. She worked as a director with NEC and Woodie King’s New Federal Theater.   She worked as a vocalist, spoken word actor with arts and culture czar Ellis Haizlip on a number of his productions, including his TV show SOUL! However, all of the above credits pale by comparison with her greatest production, her beloved daughter Alesa Blanchard-Nelson, who was born in 1977.

Services will be held on Friday, September 8 at 10 am at the Ninth Tabernacle, located at 85-87 Fountain Avenue, Brooklyn. Interment follows at Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.


Patricia Gatling

BROOKLYN: The District Attorney race is media-centric, attracting a NY1 TV debate. The Democratic Primary will determine who succeeds Brooklyn’s first elected African-American District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who died last year. Governor Cuomo named Eric Gonzalez, Thompson’s deputy, to complete his term.   Gonzalez faces five competitors, most of them assistant district attorneys: Anne Swern, Vincent Gentile, Patricia Gatling, Marc Fliedner and Ama Dwimoh; the NY Times endorsed Gonzalez.

Laurie Cumbo, City Council Democratic incumbent in the 35th District, has both strong support in her councilmanic, and strong competition from Ede Fox, who comes to the race with endorsements from the Transportation Workers Union and the United Auto Workers. Last week, the two women debated on NY1 Cable News with Errol Louis as moderator. The Council District includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and parts of Central Brooklyn.



Congratulations to five Harlem liquor store owners – on Lenox and Seventh below 125th Street – in a display of unity who successfully blocked a new liquor store license application for a space on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard at 118th Street. Liquor store licenses fall within the jurisdiction of the NYS Liquor Authority, which often ignores its guideline regarding spatial relations between liquor stores and churches/schools.  That exemplifies power to the entrepreneurs, most of them Black, Latino and Asian.

Brooklynites looking for affordable housing, please note that 74 new rental units will be available with monthly rates as follows: Studios/$947; 1 bedroom /$1017; 2 bedrooms /$1230. There are income caps in each category. Apartments are housed at 210 Livingston Street, corner of Hoyt, a building under construction.  Visit NYC Housing Connect website. Applications accepted through October 31.


HARLEM: Fashion Week NY runs from September 7 to 13 when designers will present their 2018 spring/summer collections. Traditionally, FWNY venues are midtown, downtown, anywhere but uptown …. until Harlem Fashion Week made its auspicious appearance a few years ago. Produced by fashion dignitaries Tandra Birkett and Yvonne Jewnell, Harlem Fashion Week runs from September 8 to 10, at spaces like the Hamilton Landmark Galleries on opening night and the Museum of the City of New York, where a catwalk show threatens to mesmerize all viewers.


Jonathan Bodrick

The 9/10 Harlem Fashion Week catwalk show proceedings will be followed by a salute to local cultural professionals, including Jonathan Bodrick, the “Godfather of Fashion” in Harlem, Actor B.O.R.N. To Style; Alanna McCatty, Founder/CEO, McCatty Scholars; Ejhadju Cisse aka Cisse, the Senegalese Ponty Bistro owner;   Victoria Horsford, Harlem-based journalist and OTP columnist and real estate entrepreneur; and Tai Abrams, co-founder/CEO Admission Squad, author of the book, WHO AM I. [Visit]


The 48th Annual African-American Day Parade is set for September 17 from 1-6 pm along Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard in Harlem.   This year’s parade is “A Salute to Better Health” and honors African-American health care professionals, many of whom will be grand marshals such as Dr. Jeff Gardere, “America’s Psychologist”; Queen Afua, Holistic Wellness Center; Robert Gore, MD, Kings County Hospital; Carole Brown, MD, Memorial Hospital; Aletha Maybank, MD, NYC Dept. of Health; Camille Clare, MD, Metropolitan Hospital; and Venis Wilder, MD, The Ryan Center. [Visit]


President Uhuru Kenyatta

The Kenya Supreme Court ruffled some political feathers last week when it invalidated the results of the August 8 election, which projected a reelection victory for President Uhura Kenyatta. A new election will be held within 60 days of a court review. Protests and restlessness ensued after last month’s election.   President Kenyatta took office in 2013.    He has to do battle again at the polls with opposition leader Raila Odinga, who refused to accept an election loss and appealed to the judicial system.


The Imagenation Cinema Foundation and Injoy Enterprises present “BLACK GIRL MAGIC, Celebrating the Flyness of Black Women and Girls”, a multimedia event on Saturday, September 9, 6-10 pm in the Marcus Garvey Park Amphitheater, located off 122nd Street at Mt. Morris Park in West Harlem. The celebration includes a screening of THE FITS, which follows an 11-year-old tomboy who tries to fit in with her peers after joining an all-girls dance team; performances by a female band and by the Uptown Dance Academy.


The MCI (Marketplace Calling International) presents the GLOBAL Marketplace Summit and Expo 2017, which convenes in Johannesburg, South Africa on September 20 to September 29. MCI is a Christian-based networking and empowering platform for business people and professionals from diverse churches and organizations. Keynote speakers include an ecumenical lot like Rev. Dennis Dillon, USA clergyman, and business leaders from Ghana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. [Visit


A Harlem-based entrepreneur, Victoria Horsford can be reached at

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