Saturday, September 13, 2014

Xernona Clayton, General Consul Randy E. Rolle, and West Point on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Join Living Your Best Life as we celebrate the lives of men and women of our military. We will hear from active duty and veterans who will share personal stories and highlights from their military careers and the next chapter in their lives. All have roles that made them the "first" in many endeavors throughout their lives and in the military. We will hear about their many acts of courage and sacrifice that embody servant leadership that will empower, inspire, and motivate listeners.

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, hear from three individuals who are leaders from various sectors like philanthropy, government, and our military.

Founder of Trumpet Awards, Xernona Clayton
We will hear from the legendary Civil Rights and trailblazer, Xernona Clayton. Listen to her share stories from chapters of her life that have captivated our country for several decades. From Civil Rights to adviser to Ted Turner to Founder of the Trumpet, Ms. Clayton has Been Marching All The Time.
General Consul to Atlanta, Randy E. Rolle
Ms. Clayton inducted the Prime Minster of the Bahamas, The Honorable Perry Gladstone Christie, into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in January 2014 during the 22nd Trumpet Awards. Shortly after meeting Prime Minister Christie in Atlanta, the idea to bring the military families to the Bahamas was birthed. Hear more about the Islands of the Bahamas from The Bahamas Consul General to Atlanta, The Honorable Randy E. Rolle. Listen to him share about his leadership, mentoring youth, and helping bring the message of a peaceful nation to our airwaves.


And lastly,  we will hear from Captain Bryant L. Waston of West Point. Hear him give the history of the 200 year on military academy founded by President Thomas Jefferson. Listen to Captain Waston share how West Point has molded leaders of our country for two centuries and why he chose to attend West Point. Listen to his passion for leading as he shares how West Point prepared him to help seek out the next generation of leaders for West Point and our country.

As Living Your Best Life Radio embarks on an adventure of a lifetime, sponsoring a wedding for one lucky military couple to be married in the Bahamas, stay tuned for weekly updates and more great interviews from leaders who have globe influence. Living Your Best Life Radio is heard on 760AM in the Middle Tennessee Region, the Inspirational Network, military bases, Tune In, and streamed live at Ustream.TV from 9-10AM CST.


More About Xernona Clayton

Xernona Clayton at her 84th Birthday Party in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Xernona Clayton is the Founder, President and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, Inc. and Creator and Executive Producer of the Foundation’s Trumpet Awards.  The Trumpet Awards is a prestigious event highlighting African American accomplishments and contributions.  Initiated in 1993 by Turner Broadcasting, the Trumpet Awards has been televised annually and distributed internationally to over 185 countries around the world.

Ms. Clayton began her television career in 1967 and became the south’s first Black person to have her own television show.  The Xernona Clayton show was a regular feature on WAGA-TV, CBS affiliate in Atlanta.

Xernona Clayton was employed at Turner Broadcasting for nearly 30 years where she served as a corporate executive.  In 1988, Xernona Clayton was appointed Corporate Vice President for Urban Affairs with Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.  In this capacity, she directed internal and external projects for the Corporation, and served as liaison between Turner Broadcasting (TBS SuperStation, CNN, Headline News, TNT, Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks) and civic groups in Atlanta and across the country.  As a corporate executive, Ms. Clayton was one of the highest-ranking female employees in Turner Broadcasting System.

Xernona moved to Atlanta in 1965 where she accepted a position with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Ms. Clayton also traveled extensively with Mrs. Coretta Scott King on her nationwide concert tours.

More About the Islands of the Bahamas





The Bahamas is comprised of 700 islands sprinkled over 100,000 square miles of ocean starting just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The archipelago is an ecological oasis featuring 2,000 breathtaking islands and cays and boasts the clearest water on the planet—with a visibility of over 200 feet. You can see your toes as easily as you can the world’s third largest barrier reef.


We invite you to explore all of our islands. One step and you’ll realize our beauty extends far beyond our extraordinary natural wonders. It’s the smiles on the faces of the Bahamian people. The unique sounds of our rich culture. The warm hospitality of our heritage and our colorful history.

More About Captain Bryant L. Waston
 
Captain Bryant L. Waston

CPT Bryant L. Watson graduated in 2010 from the United States Military Academy and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry.  At West Point, he double majored in Economics and Arabic. His most memorable experiences were studying abroad in Morocco , solo piloting a helicopter, and spending weekends with fellow cades in New York City. After graduation, he joined the 172nd Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany and deployed with them to Paktika Province, Afghanistan. There, he led an Infantry Platoon and partnered with local Afghan forces to interdict enemy movement. Returning to Germany, he helped deactivate the 172nd as both a platoon leader and adjutant to the Battalion Commander. CPT Bryant Watson joins the admissions team by way of Fort Stewart, Georgia where he last served as an executive officer. He and his wife, Anna, have one-year old daughter, Eleanor.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Genma Holmes To Speak at Inaugural Art Camp Nashville

I am super honored to share how to help passionate volunteers find their purpose with non-profits. Music City is filled with many hearts who want to serve with their time and talents to help meet the needs of the community and individuals.


With the Middle Tennessee Region being one of the most philanthropic areas of the country, many non-profits look for ways to attract and keep engaged volunteers. Creative volunteers who are servant leaders are often looking for a purpose and do not want to be a "body for a day".

So how do we match non profits' needs with the gifts and talents of strong volunteers? Join me at the Inaugural Art Camp Nashville to hear me share from my treasure chest of ideas that worked and did not work for me as a volunteer. Also hear what I look for in a cause or non-profit to donate too and the various ways I have raised funds for several organizations.

This is going to be a "different" session but very special. I hope to see you. My session is from 2:15-3:20 at Nossi College of Art.

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Bahamas' Director of Religious Tourism on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

Update: Audio can be heard is here.
Join Living Your Best Life as we celebrate the lives of men and women of our military. We will hear from active duty and veterans who will share personal stories and highlights from their military careers and the next chapter in their lives. All have roles that made them the "first" in many endeavors throughout their lives and in the military. We will hear about their many acts of courage and sacrifice that embody servant leadership that will empower, inspire, and motivate listeners.
On Saturday, September 6, 2014, tune in to hear from the Director of Religious Tourism for the Bahamas, Mr. Dwight Armbrister. Listen to Mr. Armbrister describe vividly the beauty of The Bahamas, and why so many military families seek respite in a "peaceful nation" after their service to our country.


Hear how 400,00 Bahamians have made their country a land where solitude and adventure go hand in hand. Mr. Armbrister will share why even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, sought the Bahamas as a place for inspiration and motivation. Mr. Armbrister will discuss why he believes "the Bahamas is where God is".

Mr. Armbrister will talk sports for football lovers who want tropical sun with their tailgating. Hear the latest on the Inaugural HBCU game in the Bahamas between Central State University and Texas Southern University on September 13, 2014 and an upcoming Gospel Celebration with Tye Tribbett.


Mr. Armbrister will also share why having a destination wedding in the Bahamas is the only place you should want to have a wedding and why Living Your Best Life Radio will have the "full weight of the Bahamas Government" behind our surprise announcement for a lucky listener and their immediate family. Hear Genma Holmes share about an inspiring conversation at the 2014 Trumpet Awards with the Bahamas' Prime Minister, The Honorable Perry Gladstone Christie, and the First Lady of the Bahamas, lead to this wonderful partnership with the Islands of the Bahamas and her outreach to military families who listen to Living Your Best Life Radio. You do not want to miss the big reveal!


This show promises to empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your BEST life while you pack your bags for The Islands Of the Bahamas...where "God lives."

Living Your Best Life Radio is heard on 760AM in the Middle Tennessee Region, the Inspirational Network, military bases, Tune In, and streamed live at Ustream.TV from 9-10AM CST.

More About The Bahamas


When your home resembles paradise, it’s pretty easy to see why so many Bahamians have a laid-back attitude. In general, we like to say, let’s worry about the bad things tomorrow. So today, we embrace life with a warm smile. We are a humble people who love to celebrate. Weddings and funerals are both important social events here. It is an opportunity to celebrate the new life starting and the life lived. Bahamians take great pride in our storied past.

The majority of Bahamians live on New Providence Island, home of our capital city, Nassau. Here, you will find most are of West African descent whose ancestors were enslaved and brought here to work on cotton plantations. The majority of our other residents are descendants of English settlers. Some are even related to Loyalists who fled the southern U.S. during the American Revolution.

When Britain abolished slavery in 1834, life here on our islands changed dramatically. Plantation life ended and locals tried their hand at sponging, fishing or farming. Our lack of fertile cropland led our people to become a nation of seafarers. More info about the beautiful Islands of the Bahamas can be found here.

Stay up to date on all the latest news from Genma's Bahamanian Venture:
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Special thanks to Consul General, The Honorable Randy E. Rolle, and Denise Hales Harrod for their facilitation to make this show possible. 

Photos Credit: Bahamas Department of Tourism

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Caroline V. Clarke on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

 Update: Audio of the show can be found here.

For several months, I have shared with anyone who would listen about the book, Postcards from Cookie: A Memoir of Motherhood, Miracles, and a Whole Lot of Mail. I fell in love with this amazing story from page one and have read it several times. I highly recommend reading it for several reasons. Tune in to Living Your Best Life Radio to hear why I as well as many women in my life loved reading it as well.


On Saturday, August 30, 2014, Caroline V. Clarke, author, award-winning journalist, and the host of Black Enterprise Report, will join us to share her journey to find her birth mother. Listen as Caroline shares how her initial inquiry about her adoption with Spence-Chapin Adoption Services was because of concerns about her health that could be hereditary. Concerned about the unknowns that could affect the health of children, she made an appointment to meet with a social worker at the agency.


Only expecting a few general answers, hear Caroline share that she was given a file that was several pages single typed that gave her clues to who her mother could be. Her journalistic background lead her to realize she knew her birth family. Caroline V. Clarke's birth mother was Carol "Cookie" Cole, the daughter of Hollywood's legendary crooner Nat King Cole. Caroline will share several stories that she did not discuss  in the book. Listen as she talks about the journey of others who have opened up to her about their own adoption stories. She also shares about her own vulnerabilities as she sought to build a relationship with her birth mother without hurting her mother and father who raised her to be the woman she is today.

This show promises to empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your BEST life!

 Living Your Best Life Radio can be heard on 760 AM in the Middle-Tennessee Region, Tune In, military bases, and streamed live on U-Stream.TV from 9-10AM CST. This show will also air on WTST, a member of the HBCU radio network (XM 142)

More About Caroline V. Clarke


Caroline V. Clarke hosts the Black Enterprise Business Report, a weekly, nationally syndicated television show that offers unduplicated reporting on black business, careers and lifestyles to today’s consumer. Black Enterprise Business Report reaches 80% of black households, in 52 broadcast markets and 145 cable markets; it can also be seen online via BlackEnterprise.com. Prominent business leaders and newsmakers interviewed by Clarke include RUSH Communications' Russell Simmons, NBC Universal executive Paula Madison, Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie Neely, Teen Nick CEO Nick Cannon, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Soliz.

An award-winning journalist whose experience spans print, digital and television platforms, Clarke is also Executive Editor of Black Enterprise, influencing the production of content across all platforms, including her blog, Winging It: Work. Life. Balance? for BlackEnterprise.com. In addition, as co-editorial director of the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, she determines the editorial direction and theme of the nation’s largest annual conference targeting African American women executives. She was instrumental in creating this event and has held this position since the inception of the Summit, in 2004.

In more than 20 years with Black Enterprise, Clarke has served in a number of other key roles including senior editor and editor-at-large, Black Enterprise magazine; editorial director, Black Enterprise Books; and general manager, interactive media, where she helped to run Blackenterprise.com as well as launch other digital platforms for Black Enterprise content delivery.

Clarke is the author of Take a Lesson: Today’s Black Achievers on How They Made It & What They Learned Along the Way. Her second book, entitled "Postcards from Cookie," debuted from Harper Collins in March.  Prior to Black Enterprise, Clarke worked at The American Lawyer and several newspapers.  She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Smith College and a master’s degree with honors from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
(Source: www.Iamempowerd.com)

Photos: Caroline V. Clarke

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dr. Marvin Dulaney Talks History of Police and the Black Community on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

As the events in #Ferguson continues to dominate the news cycle on all networks and cable outlets, many have commented on the ever revealing conduct of the police in the area. It is safe to assume that every police chief and police department do not behave in the manner that has been on display in St. Louis but when we have seen makes us pause to examine the history of police and the role they have in community.

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, Dr. W. Marvin Dulaney, Chair of the History Department at the University of Texas at Arlington and author of the, Black Police In America, will address the police and the mistrust of the police that is often whispered about and strikes dread in the Black community. Dr. Dulaney will share insights from his research of the topic for several decades and from building relationships with police organizations around the country. He will give commentary on what is being played out in the media and why it has become so contentious in the small community of Ferguson, Missouri over the last two weeks. Dr. Dulaney will also discuss the origins of the militarization of the police departments and share ways the community can address the discord that has brewing for years.

Dr. Dulaney's book represents the first complete history of blacks in policing, examining black experiences in and influences upon American police departments from Civil War to modern times. From the early black pioneers to the rise of black unionism in the ranks, this presents an excellent social commentary.
 
 Living Your Best Life Radio, radio that empowers, inspires, and motivates you to live your BEST life, can be heard on 760 AM in the Middle-Tennessee Region, Tune In, military bases, and streamed live on U-Stream.TV from 9-10AM CST. This show will also air on WTST, a member of the HBCU radio network (XM 142).
 
 More About Dr. W. Marvin Dulaney
 
Dr. W. Marvin Dulaney is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Texas, Arlington. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in American and African-American history at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He has published scholarly articles and reviews in the Journal of Negro History, Civil War History, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, The Houston Review, The Historian, Pacific Historical Review, Texas Journal of Ideas, History and Culture, Legacies, Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights, Locus, The Georgia Historical Quarterly, The New Handbook of Texas, Our Texas magazine, African Americans: Their History, the South Carolina Encyclopedia, The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, The African American Experience in Texas History: An Anthology, Lone Star Legacy: African American History in Texas, and The Chronicle of Historical Studies. He is the editor of Charleston’s Avery Center: From Education and Civil Rights to Preserving the African-American Experience; Born to Serve: A History of the Woman’s Baptist Educational Missionary Convention of South Carolina; The Avery Review; and the book, Essays on the American Civil Rights Movement. He is author of the book, Black Police in America.
 
 
Previous show on Ferguson with Professor Jelani Cobb can be found here.
 
 
 
 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dinner and Discussion Book Club: Postcards from Cookie

I received a copy Postcards from Cookie in March and fell in love with the author's, Caroline Clark Graves, journey. I recommended the book to the book club I am in, to listeners of Living Your Best Life Radio and several friends in women groups. I have read the book several times since March and with each sitting, I felt as if I was turning the pages of the book for the first time.

I knew the book was a hit when I got an email from Diane Hines who simply stated "I loved Postcards From Cookie." I immediately called her and we spent the afternoon sharing our favorite stories from the book. A few days later, Joyce Searcy emailed me from London and said, "I read the book while I was on the plane." I also got a postcard from her which I thought was a great lead up to our book club meeting. When Cathy Ramsey called she said, "I have something to share but will wait until we see each other."

With so many positive comments, I could not wait for our meeting to hurry up and get here. The anticipation to fellowship with book lovers and natural story tellers and hear their feedback had me counting down the days until I could see the ladies of club share more of their thoughts about Postcards from Cookie. While waiting to meet with them, I sent emails to the Caroline, letting her know the popularity of the book and how I could not wait to see her in person soon.

The Dinner and Discussion Book Club met at Sunset Grill to discuss Postcards From Cookie.
The afternoon spent together over diner and drinks was truly a special time. Cathy put our discussion questions on postcards that she made from photographs of student life at Palmer Memorial Institute. During dinner, Cathy revealed that she had attended the school at one point and understood the mindset of many of the women like Maria Cole who graduated from the school.




As usual, Cathy's questions were thought provoking and lead to follow up questions and sharing of individual stories that mirrored some of the family dynamics that were told in the book. As Veronica, and Anessa shared from chapters of their lives, I felt the strong pull of Postcards from Cookie bringing women closer together as we read Caroline peeling back layers of her life one page after another while giving readers a glimpse of how life was like in the inner circle of Black Royalty through Cookie's life.

Postcards from Cookie is rich with history, heritage. and mayhem that have helped shaped African American communities from North to South and East to West over several generations. It mingles the past with the future while having you reaching for your latest issue of Black Enterprise. After my first reading, I reached out to old friends that I met at BE Conferences and Events over years. Several places mentioned in the book during Caroline's travels regarding BE, I was there with other entrepreneurs. Oh, the fund memories. Those calls to friends had me searching for thank you notes from Mr. and Mrs. Graves that I saved. I was reminded of the power of sending notes and thank you cards and how special I feel when I receive one for any reason.


As Caroline reveals in Postcards from Cookie and my biggest take away from reading it, God does not make mistakes and we are all "uniquely and wonderfully" made.



Photo Credits: Genma Holmes, Harper Collins

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee held its annual selection meeting today and elected seven individuals to the Class of 2014. Bringing the total number of members in the Hall of Fame to 287 are linebacker Derrick Brooks, punter Ray Guy, defensive end Claude Humphrey, tackle Walter Jones, wide receiver Andre Reed, defensive end Michael Strahan, and cornerback/safety Aeneas Williams. - See more at: http://www.profootballhof.com/enshrinement/2014/2/2/pro-football-hall-of-fame-class-of-2014-elected/#sthash.jtyMmoEW.dpuf

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee held its annual selection meeting today and elected seven individuals to the Class of 2014. Bringing the total number of members in the Hall of Fame to 287 are linebacker Derrick Brooks, punter Ray Guy, defensive end Claude Humphrey, tackle Walter Jones, wide receiver Andre Reed, defensive end Michael Strahan, and cornerback/safety Aeneas Williams. - See more at: http://www.profootballhof.com/enshrinement/2014/2/2/pro-football-hall-of-fame-class-of-2014-elected/#sthash.jtyMmoEW.dpuf

Dying While Black Because You Were Walking, Talking, Breathing While Black

On Saturday, August 9, 2014, eighteen year old, Michael Brown, was killed by Ferguson, Missouri’s police officer, Darren Wilson. The cries of outrage at the lack of details after the shooting led to mass protests in the Ferguson area and around the country. As the week progressed, the protestors’ peaceful daylight marches turned into riots at night where businesses were looted on multiple occasions.


The tone death police department introduced distrust with the way they handled the investigation. They helped heighten racial tensions even more with a show of military grade equipment that were aimed at protesters that many veterans say were not used in firefights in Iraq. The events surrounding the death of Michael Brown has pulled the Band-Aid off the wounds of racism that oozes over every time a questionable shooting by the police who seem to protect their own over protecting the people they vow to serve.

For many, the shooting of Michael Brown brought back memories of Trayvon Martin who was shot by a wanna be cop, George Zimmerman. Many believe that Trayvon Martin was tried by society’s perception of young black men in hoodies who are considered a threat to humanity and to the neighborhood that Zimmerman lived in. Nine months after Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin for walking while black, Jordan Davis was shot by Michael Dunn who was listening to loud music while black. The idea that just being black while standing, walking, or talking deems one’s life invaluable is mind blowing but is becoming an accepted reality to many young black males.

To add to our complex racial divide on dying while black at the hands of law enforcement is what young black men think of themselves and do to each other. Black on black crime rates are at an all-time high. Chicago weekend murders have been as much as eighty in one weekend. Young black males’ consumption of violence has become so numbing that posting videos of dead black teens and young adults on social media sites have become the norm rather than the exception. Our country and our community have reinforced the notion to our young black sons that they do not matter that many have bought into that concept and show it by their disregard for each other lives, their families, girlfriends, and community.

Young black boys are more likely to be sent to the principle office as early as kindergarten than their peers. They are more likely to be put into detention in junior high and expelled in high schools. The school system is the first “system” that young black males are introduced too. Once they enter one system, they become a pipeline for other systems including prison. Encounters in school is the beginning of various encounters that last most of their young lives.

The words of Michael Brown’s mother will be forever etched on my heart, “Do you know how hard it was to get him to graduate?” A mother’s moment of grief was occupied with thoughts of her struggle to get him through school…high school. Ms. Brown mentioned several times in interviews over the last few days that her son was about to start college. In the midst of the most trying time of a mother’s life, preparing to bury a child, she mentions the struggle to get him educated and promises of what were to come through an education. Ms. Brown viewed an education as a way to ensure her son a future. It is ironic that because of the unrest in Ferguson, the start of the school year has been delayed.

Getting an education is not just about learning from a book. As a community, we must get back to the basics of being in and supporting a community that educates our youth about the role of community. That  includes the role of the police in the community. We must look more deeply at the community of young black males; the good, the bad, and the ugly. We must get back to educating our communities about the systemic struggles that we must overcome and remind ourselves that promises of a united country does not stop with the election of the president. As a matter of fact, the election of President Obama has shown us how much more ground we must cover and continue to cover...together...as a country. Waiting on government programs will not cut it. Remember how we fared without them? We have to become each other keepers and remind our families that one success is just one. But that one can make a difference to thousands even millions.

As we continue to watch the events in Ferguson unfold, look in your area and see if it is a Ferguson waiting to explode. Are we having conversations with real and imaginary leaders in our 
communities? Are we holding them accountable? Are we being liable to our children and for them? Are we addressing issues that are obvious or are we waiting for a “moment” to let frustrations boil over? Lastly, are we seeing our youth as our future of tomorrow or as our problems of today that we do not address?  We must be willing to look in the mirror.  

It may sound redundant but I do believe we have to stay faithful while implementing change for the greater good. And please, let our sons and young men know they are valued in our communities.

Photo credit: Time Magazine, Trayvon Martin Foundation, Getty Images, 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jelani Cobb Gives Updates on Ferguson on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes

The eyes of the world have been on a small suburb of St. Louis for the last week. Since Saturday, August 9, 2014 millions have been watching their televisions and monitoring social media for updates on details regarding the shooting of an unarmed Ferguson, Missouri teenager Michael Brown that has led to escalating racial tensions, protesters being tear gassed, mounting military like presence of the local police, a string of press conferences that were head scratchers and the revelation that Michael Brown may have been involved in a robbery only minutes before being shot multiple times by officer Darren Wilson.


On Saturday, August 16, 2014, Professor William Jelani Cobb will join us to share what he has seen firsthand in #Ferguson. Professor Cobb, an Associate Professor of History and Director, Institute for African American Studies at Rutgers, has written several posts for The New Yorker about actual events in Ferguson, Missouri.


With stories changing quickly, it is important to not only hear from trusted individuals with no agendas but to help break down events day by day. Many are asking what happened out of camera views that made the atmosphere so charged throughout the week and how did the protests go from peaceful assembly on Friday (Aug 15) to looting in the early morning hours on Saturday? How did Captain Ron Johnson win the trust of the people of Ferguson so quickly and other questions will be answered.

Text your questions for Professor Cobb to INSPIRE to 99000.

 Living Your Best Life Radio, radio that empowers, inspires, and motivates you to live your BEST life, can be heard on 760 AM in the Middle-Tennessee Region, Tune In, military bases, and streamed live on U-Stream.TV from 9-10AM CST. This show will also air on WTST, a member of the HBCU radio network (XM 142).

More About Professor Jelani Cobb


Jelani Cobb has been a contributor to The New Yorker and newyorker.com since 2013, writing frequently about race, politics, history, and culture. His most recent book is “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress.” He’s an associate professor of history and the director of Africana studies at the University of Connecticut.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When a Book Club Meeting Turns Into a Testament to The Goodness of God

A few weeks ago, Dinner and Discussion Book Club met to discuss the The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. Normally, we chose a restaurant that has a connection with the book. This time, we met at The Cookery, a cafe on 12th South with a unique mission to train homeless men culinary skills. It was by coincidence the owner, Brett Swayn, is from Australia, the backdrop for the book.


The book was riveting and full of twists and turns for me. The reviews from the group ranged from kinda of crazy to too confusing to I am headed home and getting ready to deal with family, I am going to give everyone a copy of this book  to it gets better the more you read it to I loved it. Our comments and thoughts about the book were better than reading the book.


Cathy came with a trinket box with questions, that was truly a Pandora box. After ordering our food, I was the first to open the box and read aloud this gem of a question:
When Cecilia finds the letter addressed to her from her husband, "To be opened only in the event of my death," she is tormented by the ethics of opening it. Do you agree with her ultimate decision? What would you have done?
Without hesitation, I answered, "I am opening any letter that is marked do not open only in event of my death on the spot!" The Pandora box filled with questions was a creative idea and kept us entertained throughout the evening. One great question after another, helped us dig deeper into the book and had several of us peeling back layers to our personalities. The atmosphere of the restaurant said "come as you are" and it spite of being in the open, the evening was intimate. There was a steady flow of entrees that we devoured from the menu as we made our way to the end of the book. I even had the chef to prepare a salad Genma's way, a version of one of the menu items that was prepared my way on my birthday.

In June, I had quietly celebrated my birthday with Joyce and the cooks at the restaurant. With the restaurant to ourselves, they went above and beyond to make the evening special for me. After being serenaded by two of the best cooks in town on my birthday, I was in love with the restaurant and learned their stories and the concept behind the restaurant. I have returned every week since my birthday. The Cookery was the perfect venue for our book club.


At our book club outing, unbeknown to us, our carefree banter was being observed by a young man in the restaurant. When he got up to leave, he stopped at a our table and said he enjoyed knowing we were "having a great time on your ladies night out." He even suggested a book for us to read. He told us he was raised by his grandmother and went on to share that his life had been interrupted by bad choices. But he was determined to do the right thing. He then laid several 20s on the table and told us to enjoy our night on him because we reminded him of his grandmother and her friends.

 

Totally stunned by his actions, the book loving mother hens began to question him about what was the next chapter for him. As he revealed more about his life, his mother and grandmother, I could not help but snap photos. I sensed something special was happening and I wanted to capture the moment. Cathy, forever a teacher, asked him about pursing an education. Joyce,Veronica, Diane, and Anassa encouraged him to stay focused and inquired about his employment.

I asked for his number to text him the photos and he asked if I would share his photos with his mother as he gave me both numbers. Cathy invited him to church and told him he was welcome to join her and her husband. While she was giving locations and times for her church, I said he was welcome to join me, we meet at one address:) The money that he gave so graciously to us was shared with the cook (my Sweet James) and the waitress.

Anassa, Genma Joyce, Diane, Quortez, Veronica, and Cathy
Our book club meeting was one I did not want to end. We stayed in the parking lot for another twenty minutes talking about any and every thing. As I drove home, I kept thinking how our time at the restaurant was preparing me spiritually and mentally for the 4th of July weekend with family in Mississippi. Our meeting at The Cookery was a glaring testament to the Goodness of God; He readily gives us what we need, when we need it, in the most unexpected way.

On Sunday morning, I got a texted photo and these words:

The Ramseys with Quortez

" Look who came to Mt. Zion today. Quortez. He found an usher to help him find me. He brought his sister. God uses us for his purposes. Can't wait to see what He wants us to do with this young man."

With tears in my eyes, I could not help but shout, "Ain't God good!"