BOOKSTOCK 2018 KICKS OFF WITH A BAND!

LIVONIA, Michigan _ What a joy kicking off Bookstock 2018 at Laurel Park Place, which is now filled with more than 250,000 books, CDs and albums. The event, the largest used book and media sale in the state, benefits literacy. Come out during mall hours all week, especially 5 pm Wednesday when we announce the winners of the Cookstock Best Cupcake Ever contest!

See WDIV Local 4 coverage here!

THE BURDEN IN WEST BLOOMFIELD, MICHIGAN

If you ever need affirmation that the fight for social justice will continue, just watch YWPs – young people working. I was honored to present “The Burden” to folks in West Bloomfield, a suburb of Detroit, where I once lived and where my daughter graduated high school. I was invited by the West Bloomfield High School’s African American Awareness Club (Triple A), and they were awesome! The students brought together residents from across the city for an open dialogue about race, a conversation that is so needed and not so frightening, once you actually begin to talk. We can do this!

THAT TIME WALTER AND I WERE HONORED TOGETHER

DETROIT _ My longtime friend, Walter Middlebrook and I received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at its annual awards ceremony in an event filled with raucous laughter and deserved recognition of great achievement. (I also won for best columns for 2018. Who knew?)  I was so humbled by SPJ and was glad to have my posse on hand to see it. I was so proud of Walter and so grateful for the honors!

“I AM EVIDENCE” WAS A HIT AT FREEP FILM FEST

DETROIT _ I landed back in Detroit in time to host actress andforce of nature Mariska Hargitay at the screening of “I Am Evidence” at the Freep Film Festival. Mariska was the most gracious and vivacious star I’ve seen in a while, taking selfies, hugging everyone and preparing a pre-screening crowd for a powerful look at women victimized twice, first by their rapists and then by the system. This is a powerful documentary made by women about women for everybody to understand what happened when hundreds of thousands of rape kits done on victims were stored and sat abandoned in warehouses across America while the rapists went on to rape again. The film also is a tribute to prosecutors like Kym Worthy whose fight to get the kits tested led to the identification of more than 800 serial rapists. Do not miss this film!

THE BURDEN IN NEW YORK CITY (NABJ REGION I)

NEW YORK _ Johann Calhoun, Aaron Morrison and their team of NABJ leaders put on quite the regional conference April 13 and 14 at the New York University Law School with spectacular workshops and a publish-worthy keynote from Kevin Powell. My panel was about covering the African diaspora from where you are – everywhere you are by paying attention to the immigrant communities where you live and using vacations as opportunities to freelance. (Thanks to Jarrad Henderson and other professionals for fantastic shots of what happened).

THE BURDEN IN NEW YORK (at the REGION 1 GLOBAL CONFERENCE)

NEW YORK _ I was back in the city I love second-most for the NABJ Region 1 global diversity conference, which was amazing! I saw the future in the faces of young journalists like Madelynn Mitchell, Destiny Williams and Jamila Jacob — and I bumped into Newsday Editor Deb Henley, who was my editor years ago at The Courier Journal. She honored me by buying my book, “The Burden,” after my panel on covering the globe from home. Yes, you can write about world affairs where you are, as explained brilliantly by my co-panelists Melissa Noel and Frankie Edozien, an associate professor at NYU. We talked about connecting with other countries through the immigrants in your own town and covering ethnic festivals, without grumbling, to gain valued sources. Then the always-on-point Kevin Powell gave a powerful keynote and a charge to journalists of all ages to embrace and insist on excellence. Congratulations Johann Calhoun, Aaron Morrison and a stellar team for a great, great job!

A WEEKEND IN ATLANTA WITH THE BURDEN AND NABJ

ATLANTA _ It was one of the best weekends ever. I was honored to serve on a panel at an NABJ Region III conference that was one of the best I’ve attended. But the workshops and lunch and even the party came second to hanging out with dear friends who are like family. I am grateful to Marlon Walker for his guest room, Benet Wilson for her friendship and April Washington, my BFF, for always being there. After the regional on Saturday, where else would I be on a Sunday morning in Atlanta where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is being remembered than at Ebenezer Baptist Church?  The sermon and praise were so moving, I told the pastor after service that even though I live in Detroit and have a church, I almost asked down the aisle to join his. And I was honored to meet Mrs. Christine King Farris, Dr. King’s sister, who was nearly mobbed by visitors. Following church, I had another successful conversation and signing of “The Burden” at the Auburn Avenue Research Library, an awesome venue whose team was amazing. It was my honor to be joined on stage by Dr. Michael Simanga from Georgia State University, who contributed to the book and who is brilliant. Then it was back home to get ready for the next conversation, the next chapter.

ANNUAL TREK TO FINAL FOUR WAS GREAT, EXCEPT FOR CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

SAN ANTONIO _ I left New York and Denzel to head to the Big Dance, where I was so sure Michigan was going to win, we got the good seats! Imagine how we felt when we learned we were in the middle of the fandom for Loyola, for whom I’d rooted for weeks!

I hated to disappoint Sister Jean, but the game was amazing and ended the way the state of Michigan needed it to.

But the Final Four is always about more than basketball. On Sunday, we started the day at the Magnolia Pancake Haus, a San Antonio institution that is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever visited. Look up their menu; I don’t want to drool on my computer.

Then we took the required sail along the San Antonio Riverwalk, which was spectacular. I had city envy again. After the tour, we walked around trying to figure out what to do next. My dear cousin and road dog, Rod, said it was all up to me. So since we were passing the Improv, I said: How about some comedy?

We went in.

I looked at the poster — and imagine my surprise when I saw my friend, Dallas comic Paul Varghese, on the bill. Serendipity! My friend Benet Wilson and Rod’s friend, Ray, came to join us, Paul killed; he was hilarious. After the show, we shut down the club, then headed to Yardhouse bar where we stayed until I cried “Uncle” at about 2:30 a.m. I don’t know WHAT everyone else did.

Monday continued so well. I had brunch with my longtime friend, Charlotte Anne Lucas, a warrior and revolutionary who is constantly trying to make the world better. Mark had brunch with his friend, who is the chaplain of the 2,000-member Dallas Fire Department. The three of us reconnected to watch some TV pre-coverage of the championship game and to make the requisite trip to the Alamo. The Monday game was like a second visit to the Alamo. Villanova just kept coming. But I was thrilled by how far Michigan got and know they’ll be back!

And so will my Tar Heels!

Continue Reading