Photographer Marty Frierson was on hand last month at the Sammy Davis Jr. Festival Arena, capturing scenes from the annual Las Vegas Juneteenth celebration. The joyous event, created 17 years ago by Diane Pollard, marks a holiday that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. It dates back to June 19, 1865 — when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and the enslaved had been freed.
More than 1,800 graduating seniors were honored at the Black Community Organizations Network’s (BCON) 39th Annual Baccalaureate Ceremony, held at Cashman Center Exhibit Hall. Dr. Robert E. Fowler was the keynote speaker, as the graduates took an “Oath of Consecration” — to affi rm their commitment to a life of purpose, devotion, and dedication in the service of our community and all of mankind.
BY CAPUCINE HOLMES
Detroit’s Music Weekend was monumental this year: the Queen of Soul had a hometown street named in her honor, as crowds flocked to be among the first to walk Aretha Franklin Way — and enjoy a complimentary, 100-minute concert by the woman herself.
The spectacular show on the Madison Central Stage included songs like “Something He Can Feel”, the bluesy “Sweet Sixteen,” “Skylark,” and “A Brand New Me.” There were thousands in attendance, including Mary Wilson of the legendary Supremes; Rev. Jesse Jackson; champion boxer Tommy Hearns; and singer Freda Payne.
The entire Music Weekend was made up of legendary music from all genres — with a lineup assembled by music director Kern Brantley, who has worked with such artists as Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Lady Gaga, Chris Brown, and Destiny’s Child.
Topping off the weekend was the R&B Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Historic Music Hall. Honorees included Las Vegas’ own Bubba Knight; Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas; and the late James Brown, represented by his daughter, Deana. Mary Wilson served as mistress of ceremonies.
Lark McCarthy was one of America’s most admired broadcasters in the nation’s capital when she moved west with her husband to start a new life in Las Vegas.
She made an extraordinary impact on Washington D.C. during her time as a longtime co-anchor on the local Fox affiliate, and reporting from the White House for ABC News. Today, she is an important figure in Las Vegas civic life, having joined the Board of Directors for The Smith Center for the Performing Arts — Nevada’s first and only world-class performing arts center.
“The Smith Center is a jewel for Las Vegas,” said the Chicago native, who also serves as a member of the Public Education Foundation of Clark County’s board of directors. “It is a fantastic non-profit facility that includes educational programing. One of my roles as a board member is to raise awareness about the Smith Center as a place for people and families to frequent for entertainment and community outreach programing. Offering a Camp Broadway for children who are interested in the performing arts is just one of the programs offered by The Smith Center that serves to enhance the lives of our Nevada residents.”
The arts have always been a passion for McCarthy, who has been active with the Kennedy Center and maintains a seat on its National Committee for the Performing Arts. She is most excited about furthering the Smith Center’s embrace of performing arts education for the Las Vegas community.
“Education is not peripheral to the Smith Center — it is a part of its core mission,” said McCarthy. “I was able to take part recently on a local committee helping to bring Any Given Child to the community. It is a program that brings integrated arts education to students in grades K-8. It is an ambitious program and we are so proud that it is up and running thanks to the Smith’s Center serving as the leading supportive agency.”
For more information on the Smith Center, go to www.thesmithcenter.com
Activism can be born in many ways. It can begin after a lifetime of suffering and inhumane treatment — think Nat Turner, circa 1831 — or simply by learning more about the ongoing struggle for human and civil rights.
Today, the headlines alone are enough to kindle an activist spirit. The epidemic of police killings of unarmed African- Americans — the recent chokehold death of Tashii Farmer-Brown, at the hands of a white Las Vegas Police officer, has led to outrage and questions about the seemingly muted community response — has given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and inspired thousands to take to the streets.
One the most promising thinkers in the new generation of activists is a young man of faith in Las Vegas: Stretch Sanders, 22, a new associate minister at Greater Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church.
A native of Chicago, Sanders says activism is in his genes and part of the family dynamic. His mother played a tremendous role in raising his consciousness about black history.
“Growing up … I was very alert and conscious of black history and my grandmother’s brother was a part of the Black Panther Party,” he said. “My entire life, I heard the names of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale — and from there I became very aware of social issues affecting black people. I was intrigued by the pride and self-love that manifested in the 1970s, with so many people wearing their natural hair in afros and saying, ‘Black Power.’ I researched so many African-Americans who fought against discrimination and wanted to bring positive change — not just for black people, but for all people who were socially disadvantaged. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became my hero when I was 11-years-old, and [his teachings] shaped … my personal calling to make things better.”
As Sanders sees it, there is no separation between his ministry and his activism.
“I believe that your ministry has to reach the people you serve,” said Sanders, who will enter UNLV in the fall with a major in African American Studies. “The organization I founded and serve as the president is called All Shades United. It is a revolutionary and solidarity organization for the red, white, black, brown and yellow. We believe that there are ethnic groups that are oppressed and the others are not. But, at some point we have to work with each other to come up with positive solutions to better the conditions for all. Nevertheless, I do not believe that an ‘all lives matter’ society [will exist] until black lives matter.”
The Black Lives Matter movement, in fact, is what galvanized Sanders and helped put his role into focus.
“When I saw the Black Lives Matter movement taking place in other cities after the killings of black people at the hands of some police officers, I felt I was missing out,” he said. “There was no real movement in Las Vegas, and I went to various organizations asking why. But I received no response. So I was inspired to start a movement of my own, All Shades United, and organized a stand-in at MLK and Carey streets when Sandra Bland was found dead in a jail cell in Texas. When I got involved with ministry at 19 years of age, I thought that the movement was something separate from my work in the church. But after reading the Bible, and understanding more, I realized that activism is a part of the church. And if it is not, then it should be. The black church, from the beginning, has always been involved with the struggle for freedom and liberation.”
“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
“Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
Let’s be honest: there is a stigma around menopause.
It isn’t warranted, because many women actually welcome — dare I say celebrate — this natural stage in the life of a woman. After all, the end of her childbearing years means no longer worrying about birth control, or monthly periods.
This is not to say that menopause arrives without challenges. Some of the symptoms include inconsistent menstruation, mood swings, vaginal dryness, weight gain, night sweats, lack of sleep, hair loss, and memory loss.
And there is one more symptom that tends to take center stage: loss of sex drive. There will always be ups and downs in a woman’s sex drive, but there are a lot more downs when a woman experiences menopause. When your sex drive diminishes and you experience less intimacy with your partner, it can be frustrating for you and the person you love.
A growing number of women take supplements to boost their libido, while some engage the help of a therapist. Couples can always make a more conscious effort to put romance at the center of a relationship, and open communication between partners is helpful in virtually every situation. These steps may be the way to put the fireworks back in your love life.
For additional information, contact the Las Vegas All Women’s Care Offices at (702) 522-9640. Or visit us at 700 Shadow Lane No. 165 (1st floor) in Las Vegas.
BY EVA MARTIN
It has been such an honor to serve as a McDonald’s owner-operator for many years. And one of the greatest privileges is working with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Las Vegas, and awarding scholarships to our young people. In 2017, the scholarship program awarded $250 to over 900 graduating seniors and $119,000 to students returning to college. Community partners contributed more than $78,500 of those funds.
Local McDonald’s owner/operators continue to raise funds for the scholarship program — by donating proceeds from every Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper sold at participating McDonald’s restaurants to the RMHC Scholarship program.
There is no greater reward than positively engaging with your own community and contributing to our young people’s educational future.
BY YVETTE WILLIAMS
High-school students from eight Clark County School District (CCSD) campuses traveled to Carson City on March 30 for African American Legislative Day, organized by the Clark County Black Caucus (CCBC). Thirty-two students — along with Black Student Union advisers, CCBC mentors, and chaperones — experienced a day in the life of a legislator, observing both the Assembly and Senate for a firsthand look at how legislation is passed.
The overnight trip provided students with the opportunity to better understand the Nevada legislative process, address policy- and decision-makers about concerns important to them, and visit the University of Nevada, Reno. CCBC representatives provided mentoring and guidance to help walk students through the process — visiting legislators in their offices and participating in committee meetings.
Participating schools included Advanced Technologies Academy, Canyon Springs, Centennial, Chaparral, Cheyenne, Desert Pines, Legacy, and Valley.
During a private meeting, Assemblyman Jason Frierson was presented with a special award, recognizing his achievement as the first African-American to serve as Speaker of the Assembly. Frierson shared his personal story before taking questions from the enthusiastic crowd.
On the following day, students met at the Nevada Department of Education for a roundtable discussion with Superintendent Steve Canavero and his leadership team. Students were given the floor to share their concerns, suggestions, challenges and successes. Governor Sandoval joined the discussion and greeted each participant personally — then presented his prized Governor’s Coin before departing from the nearly two-hour meeting. Students left feeling their comments and suggestions were valued.
The fast-paced trip, which concluded with lunch and a campus tour at UNR, was sponsored by the Clark County Black Caucus Education Committee in partnership with CCSD’s Equity and Diversity Department, 100 Black Men of Las Vegas, United Way of Las Vegas, and Operation32371.org.
Stay tuned for next month’s 79th Nevada Legislative Session recap right here in the Las Vegas Black Image Magazine.
Yvette Williams is a community advocate and Chair/Founder of the Clark County Black Caucus, a non-partisan community organization driven 100% by volunteer members registered to vote. Follow her Blog at www.YvetteBWilliams.com and on twitter @YvetteBWilliams or contact her at ClarkCountyBlackCaucus@gmail.com for more information.
At the age of 19, Jermaine Conway is already honing his artistic vision. And it’s guided by freedom.
“I am currently painting abstract expressionism which was inspired in the 1950s by artist Jackson Pollock,” says the native of Flint, Mich., who will soon enroll in a Los Angeles college to study fine arts. “It is the most freeing style of artistry, because it doesn’t require a plan — you just go with your feelings.”
Conway says that the water crisis in his hometown has lent to the emotional foundation of his work. “I feel like the water crisis in Flint … is still being ignored,” he said. “Several families still require gallons of water to be sent to their homes and even though I no longer live in Flint, it makes me emotional. I use these emotions for my artwork and poetry.”
Inspired by such artist as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Conway sold his first painting at age 17.
“I was so excited to sell my first painting for $350,” he said. “It was a watercolor on wood, and it made me believe in a professional career as an artist. I would like to someday have a gallery in every continent in the world to show and sell my art. I am very excited about my future.”