DETROIT _ Is there anything better than treating a Thursday night like a Saturday night, complete with great food, great friends and great music? Began the evening with a stroll along the Riverwalk where the Roberts Riverwalk Hotel has performers each week. The weather was perfect, the water was soothing and the jazz was really, surprisingly great. Even the vendors were at the top of their game. I bought a piece of strawberry shortcake layer cake that demanded a feature in a food magazine.Then headed over a few blocks north for food and indoor music. While it was refreshing on the riverfront, the music was blasting at They Say, where I hung with the girls. (Left to right, Rose Moten, Michelle Davis and Gail Perry Mason). They do say indeed!
CINCINNATI _ I had the most amazing time giving a keynote at the National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference here: Met fantastic people, visited a first-rate zoo (where I captured a photo of my grandchild’s favorite animal – the meerkat); heard amazing and empowering speeches from Connie Schulz, who received the Ernie Pyle award and Nick Clooney who showed where George gets his wit. I also signed copies of “The Burden.” Thanks everyone for making my weekend special! And Clarence Page asked for MY autograph! Be still, my heart!
CINCINNATI – If you haven’t visited the National Underground Railroad Museum and Freedom Center, put it on your calendar now. I went to present “The Burden,” but I was moved by just being in that space. It is heartbreakingly real in its curation and beautiful in its imagery. And the conversations were amazing and included comments from a woman from rural Ohio who came alone, because she couldn’t convince her husband to come, and talked about driving past a little place called Colored Town and not knowing what it meant. She wants the world to be better. She wants America to be better. She’s interested in us finally talking to each other to get past America’s worst chapter post founding. I can’t wait for the next conversation, and I can’t wait to return to the center.
MACKINAC ISLAND _ On this island five hours from Detroit, metro Detroit’s business leaders gather with elected officials, community leaders and national strategists to find ways to solve the city’s problems. Sometimes the actually get something done. This year was one of the most important ever because leaders were forced to focus on the education that comes before job training. My column appeared in the Free Press, but a few photos appear here. Now we watch to see whether business leaders, who seem to finally be embarrassed by the state of the schools, will put their money where our futures are.
Last Sunday, we journeyed to Dearborn to catch the final performance of “Sweet Charity” — my friend, Walter Middlebrook’s latest play. Yes, Walter has been an actor in community theatre for years all over the place. And the musical was FANTASTIC. I wish I could have taped and posted his performance. Alas, that is verboten, as you know. But perhaps one day, he’ll reprise his role at somebody’s house, if somebody cooks and invites people over. (Hint! Hint!) Anyway, here are some shots from post-show!
DETROIT _ If you ever worked for, worked with – or greatly admired – Bob McGruder, then please join us to celebrate him in August. His legacy lives, and his friends will gather to remember him during the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists.
The event will be held in Detroit, where the longtime editor of the Detroit Free Press inspired award-winning work and lived with his beautiful bride, Annette.
Please join us:
2 p.m. Saturday, August 4
The Rattlesnake Club
300 River Place Drive
(two miles from the GM Marriott Renaissance, the convention hotel).
Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-bob-mcgruder-celebration-t…
Your $25 donation covers hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast. The Snake also has a fabulous bar where you can get more booze if you want it. The event comes between the first ever NABJ Tennis Tournament (from 8 to noon) and the annual Salute to Excellence (from 6 until 9). This year’s salute is one we don’t want to miss.
If you cannot come, buy a ticket anyway. All leftover proceeds benefit the Bob McGruder Scholarship Fund curated by the Detroit Chapter of NABJ.
Rochelle Riley and Laura Varon Brown
DETROIT_ The region’s top arts patrons all converged on the Detroit Opera House Saturday for the premiere of “The Summer King,” the moving new opera detailing the life of Negro Baseball League legend Josh Gibson. I was thrilled to be there and honored to conduct an Opera Talk before the opera with Tigers legend Willie Horton, celebrated tenor George Shirley and Summer King composer Daniel Sonenberg.
DETROIT _ If any community shows that a unified neighborhood works, it’s the North Rosedale Park neighborhood, which is diverse and whose residents have been a family for years. I was so thrilled by our conversation at the Community House, I’m committed to doing neighborhood signings across the region. To book one, send an email to email@example.com.
DETROIT _ Legal legend Cornelius Pitts spoke for Law Day at Plymouth United Church of Christ on May 6. His keynote was powerful, moving and insightful.