A Real Knockout

Posted in Culture with tags , , , on March 10, 2013 by substanceandstyledc

His story has been framed by the media for decades. At one time he was one of the most controversial figures in sports and entertainment. April 26 and April 27, Mike Tyson brings his one man autobiographical show Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth to the Warner Theatre. Directed by Spike Lee the performance is described as a rare, personal look inside the life and mind of one of the most feared men ever to wear the heavyweight crown. From the streets, to the boxing ring, film, television and now the stage, Iron Mike Tyson is finally telling his story in his own words.

Convert

Posted in Culture, Politics with tags , , , on February 4, 2013 by substanceandstyledc

WMT-12010_ConvertHmpg_cs2Modify. Transform. Adopt. Convert. All of them are simple words with often complicated implications. In the play The Convert written by Danai Gurira and directed by Michael John Garcés at Wooly Mammoth Theatre the complications are made clear and real.

Set in 1895 amid the colonial scramble for Southern Africa, the play follows Jekesai, a young girl who escapes village life and a forced marriage arrangement, ultimately discovering Christianity under the guidance of an African teacher. However, as anti-colonial sentiments rise to a boiling point, Jekesai must choose between her new European God and the spirits of her ancestors.

The Convert runs February 13 through March 10. In addition to performances, there is a series of discussions and activities to complement the show.

Dance, dance, dance!

Posted in Culture with tags , , , on January 18, 2013 by substanceandstyledc

EvidenceThis year, February is a month to explore and enjoy dance for arts lovers in the Washington. Friday, February 1 Ron K. Brown brings his Brooklyn-based dance company Evidence back to George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium for a program that includes On Earth Together, comprised of Stevie Wonder songs. February 5 – February 10, now under the direction of Robert Battle, America’s cultural ambassador to the world, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Kennedy Center for its annual engagement featuring a combination of captivating new work and enduring classics. And not to be missed is the area debut of a new collaboration between choreographer Bill T. Jones and SITI Company’s Anne Bogart. In A Rite, these two artists have deconstructed the original score of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to create a provocative meditation on the power of singular new works of art to alter the way we think.

Our Beloved Justice

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , on January 14, 2013 by substanceandstyledc

Our beloved Supreme Court Justice that represents an American dream come true, the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor will appear in an intimate conversation Friday, January 18 at 7:00pm at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium discussing her new book. Sotomayor, the High Court’s first Hispanic member, knew from early on that she wanted to be a lawyer; by age forty, she was a federal district judge. Her memoir, My Beloved World is a story of hard work, vision, and perseverance despite many obstacles. Her rise as a Latina from a Bronx housing project to a spot on the Supreme Court inspires hope in oneself and the Nation. Tickets can be purchased in advance. One book and one ticket: $30; one book and two tickets: $40.

A Beautiful Sound in the Neighborhood

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , on January 3, 2013 by substanceandstyledc
Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman

The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is making U Street, Howard University, Shaw, and Logan Circle the focus of its free community engagement activities in January 2013. Between January 8 and 14, members of the NSO are breaking into small ensembles to perform chamber music and educational activities as requested by community organizations. The NSO has worked with approximately 20 partners in these communities, and has agreed to fulfill more than 30 activities requested by the neighborhoods. Venues include the Lincoln Theater, Florida Avenue Baptist Church, Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, Whole Foods and Dahlak Eritrean Restaurant.

The culminating event in the will be a concert by the full NSO at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, January 14, at 7 p.m. which will be led by NSO Music Director Christoph Eschenbach and NSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke. The celebrated soprano Jessye Norman, a graduate of Howard University, will perform, and the program will include the Washington premiere of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 4, co-commissioned by the NSO. Events are free but some do require registration in advance. View the full schedule here.

Emancipation: 1863 & 1963

Posted in Culture, Politics with tags , , on December 12, 2012 by substanceandstyledc

RRXCF00ZThe year 2013 marks two historic milestones in American history, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the National Archives are recognizing these events.

Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963, opens December 14, 2012 at NMAAHC’s temporary gallery on level two at American History. The exhibition, features historic photographs, paintings, new film footage and objects, that explores the historical context of these two crucial events, their accomplishments and limitations, and their impact on the generations that followed. The exhibit runs through September 2013.

The National Archives will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with a free special display of the original document from December 30, 2012 through January 1, 2013. The Emancipation Proclamation is displayed only for a limited time each year because of its fragility, which can be made worse by exposure to light, and the need to preserve it for future generations. Other special programs marking the 150th anniversary will be held throughout the year.

From Elections to Engagement

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on November 5, 2012 by substanceandstyledc

Being an elected official is a big and significant job …. But, at the end of the day,  it is a job like any other. I believe that the same is true for all elected positions. While I have a tremendous respect for any person who chooses to run for office and serve their communities, I view them as  being public servants and in the truest sense, American workers.

Men and women in elected positions should be seen as American workers because they have been (sel)elected by their peers to work to make their neighborhoods, cities, states and our nation better.

Like most other jobs in this economy, the application and interview process for these positions can be rigorous. Prior to election day, candidates interview for elected positions in advertisements, town hall meetings, debates, and anywhere else that a potential voter can see and hear them. Candidates tout their credentials, explaining to all who will listen why those credentials and their vision make them a better fit for the elected position than other candidates in the running.

Finally, when election day arrives, people head to the polls to select the best man (or woman) for the job. No longer a candidate, the elected person will move into the position and begin to do the work to make reality that vision she (or he) laid out in their campaign. Their success in the job depends heavily on their ability to realize their vision. Ultimately, voters decide whether they can keep their job by reelecting them or whether they should give that job to someone else.

But wait, is this really how other American jobs work?  Usually, a worker is hired and along the way his manager – read the person that hired him or her – is going to manage the employee. Sadly, this is where American voters have gotten it wrong in recent years. Once a person is elected to office, too often voters haven’t acted like the hiring managers. I can’t think of any job where a person is just given the keys to their new office and are told by their boss, “I’ll be back in two or four years. Good luck!”

I know there are some frustrated people across the nation who are fed up with some of their elected officials and plan to vote them out in a few days.  I speculate that these dissatisfied voters who feel their incumbents didn’t meet their expectations are like the unusual, almost never heard managers that leave employees on their own after the first day and never come back until they think they want to hire someone else. Voting someone out of office is fine, but should that be the first resort? Our jobs as Americans, is not just to put someone in office, but to support that person while he or she is in that position. Every citizen must pay attention and sound off in the governance of our cities, counties, states and our nation, all year long, not just in the months leading to and on election day. Elected officials are American workers who should be held accountable for their work 365 days a year. The future is in our hands as voters and we empower those we elect with the privilege to work to make that future a reality.

During campaign seasons I appreciate the emphasis being put on getting Americans to participate on election days, which is wonderful, but more attention needs to be given to  sustainable civic engagement.  Discourse on civic engagement moves beyond  getting a citizen to check a box for a candidate on election day. Sustainable civic engagement involves getting that citizen to call, email or write a letter to  elected officials during their terms to check on them and to support the vision that they selected through the election!   Further, meaningful civic engagement and democracy building moves beyond training people from disenfranchised communities to register voters and knock on doors for a candidate to training more people from those communities to run for office, be the candidate and knock on doors in support of their own campaign.

The conversation about how and who is the best person to govern our local municipalities and our nation will intensify between now and election day 2012, but my greatest hope is that the day after election day people will still be having those conversations and remain vigilant  and active on all the days between then and the next election day.

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