Following the laid back strains of house band Wain McFarlane & Jahz doing a jazz-tinged take on the Mongo Santamaria classic "Watermelon Man", Jan. 13th's "Conversations With Al McFarlane" started off on an energized note. Following the laid back strains of house band Wain McFarlane & Jahz doing a jazz-tinged take on the Mongo Santamaria classic "Watermelon Man", Jan. 13th's "Conversations With Al McFarlane" started off on an energized note. Author Verna C. Simmons, who'll be showcased over the next several weeks, fired things up in her accustomed singular fashion. Animated and articulate, Simmons took a page from her book The Power of People to advance the principle: watch what you think. "What you think will probably attract people to your life. So, how are you thinking about who you are? Certain people attract people who pull them down. You have to look at what you're thinking. The moment you start to re-think, [positive] people start coming to you. Exactly what you're thinking is exactly who you will attract," said Simmons.
Featured guests included St. Paul U.S. Postmaster Tony Williams; Minnesota State University - Mankato Associate Vice-President of Cultural Diversity Michael T. Fagen; Third Ward City Council contenders Olin Moore and Don Samuels; and Dr. Sanee Magnan, Medical Director for the Blue Cross Center for Tobacco Reduction and Health Improvement.
It is forgotten by many and lost on today's generation that in the 1950s, being hired at the U.S. Post Office empowered African Americans to transcend low-paying jobs as domestics and acquire not only gainful employment, but positions of dignity. As a U.S. Postmaster, Williams not only sustains this lineage, but improves thereupon. Williams announced the Jan. 20 presentation at Concordia University of the Thurgood Marshall commemorative stamp as part of Martin Luther King Day celebrations. The 26th stamp in the Black Heritage series, it honors an historic education activist and civil rights attorney, the first African American justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. "The great message is that everyday, when we mail a letter, that image goes into someone's hands," said Williams. "That calls us to action because the work to make life better for us is not finished. When you look at education, what's the dropout rate? Are there computers on every desk in inner city schools? These are issues we need to deal with as a community so that we can give everybody an opportunity to be successful in life."
According to Williams, 1.5 million stamps will carry Thurgood Marshall's likeness.
Fagen is organizing the 27th Pan-African Student Leadership Conferences. "This conference," he said, "is one of the only conference that celebrates African heritage and teaches our youth the significance of their heritage and provides a forum for the development of Afrocentric thought."
Fagen connected the conference to Thurgood Marshall's commemoration, saying, "The teaching of social justice is still a journey in America and we have to keep it on the forefront."