The Honorable Nelson Mandela: A Detroit Memory

The Honorable Nelson Mandela: A Detroit Memory

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” — Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

December 5, 2013. Another day of loss that I will never forget. The Honorable Nelson Mandela passed from this life to hopefully a world of pure love not tainted by racism, discrimination, poverty, greed, or injustice of any kind. Many know his backstory, unless they have been completely missing from the landscape for decades only recently to reemerge, or are too young to know about world history that includes the strength and power of a man who helped change South Africa. Today, Mr. Mandela’s persona seems more like heroic folklore than twentieth century reality.

One can learn much about him from the many stories people tell—personal accountings from those who knew him well, in and out of prison. We learn about him from those who joined the fight against apartheid, and from others who were fortunate to meet him after spending 27 years in prison. Then, there are stories from people like me who waited, in a packed stadium, to get a glimpse of the man in hopes that an inkling of his power would become a part of me through osmosis.

In June 1990, while visiting U. S. cities after his release from prison, Mr. Mandela stopped in Detroit. His visit culminated in a huge celebration at Tiger Stadium, the home of the Detroit Tigers baseball team, at the time. I had never been in a crowd before that instilled in me such a feeling of euphoria and pride. The faces were diverse not only in ethnicity, but also age. From babies to people in wheelchairs, and those using canes and walkers, we all wanted to be a part of something we knew would probably never happen again in our lifetime.

Local heroes such as Rosa Parks, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Mayor Coleman A. Young shared in our excitement. I felt lucky. I marveled at how many people peacefully came together without negative incident, and wondered why we could not seem to accomplish the same feat for other purposes. There was a sense of togetherness and belonging that I have not experienced since that day. We were all there, waiting to save the magic of surreal moments in our minds, hearts, and souls.

Throughout the years, I have carried that experience with me and recall the power of those moments anytime I need to get through a life challenge, or simply to reflect upon the joy of the event. Even now I close my eyes, and transport myself back to Tiger Stadium. I can feel the cohesiveness of the crowd wrap around me like a nurturing hug. In my mind’s eye, I see Mr. Mandela step to the podium and hear him speak from his heart…a heart big enough to change a country for the better. That’s true power.

Thank you Mr. Mandela for showing us the value of…in the words of Mr. Sidney Poitier’s book title, the true measure of a man.


Ferdman, R. A. And King, R. (December 5, 2013). The wisdom of Nelson Mandela: quotes from the most inspiring leader of the 20th century. Retrieved from

Glory Seka Mkini and Chad Redlight of Dawn Love and Activism – A Powerful Combo

With a smile that lights up a room, Seka is a founding member of the Jua Lekundu Foundation established to help children and communities in the Arusha Region of Tanzania, East Africa where Seka spent her childhood (Jua Lekundu Foundation Facebook, 2013).

When Seka was eighteen, she left her home in Arusha and followed her adventurous spirit to America. Six months later she received a letter from home telling her that her mother had died of cancer. Within a few years, Seka lost her three sisters and several other family members to AIDS. She is now the only woman left in her family (Jua Lekundu Foundation Facebook, 2013). Seka’s yearning to help her community in Arusha stems from her personal loss of family members, and many others in Arusha who lost their lives to AIDS. The region’s public health needs overwhelming local resources became the impetus for creating an organization that could make a difference.

Married for 9 years, Seka and Chad’s story is not only one of love for each other, but also their story is about love of community, and music. During the mid-2000s, Seka and Chad visited Arusha and witnessed children living on the street. The AIDS crisis left many children orphaned. They learned that many areas of Arusha life needed improvement. From a severe lack of education, poor access to quality water, the absence of nutritive food to inadequate healthcare and deficient everyday skills, help was needed.

In the interview, the couple share some highlights of their journey on the path to finding each other and carrying the weight of activism while navigating obstacles along the way.

To learn more about the Jua Lekundu Foundation visit

Chad Redlight of Dawn, drummer and keyboardist lends his musical talents to enhance the sound of Seattle musicians like Thaddillac, and bands such as Marmalade. You can find him touring with Luc & The Lovingtons, and Seka taking care of their lovely children.

William Stephenson Interview at the Comedy Cellar in New York

William Stephenson is in a celebratory mood as he hits a milestone in his comedy career. On October 2, 2013 at the Village Underground Comedy Cellar in NYC around the corner from the original Comedy Cellar, William will be joined by Darrell Hammond from Saturday Night Live and Greer Barnes from Chappelle’s Show and The Late Show with David Letterman. More comedians may come aboard the comedy celebration. Watch William discuss how comedy and life intersect.

Nina Blanka

Count Up Artist Nina B. Blanka Podcast

Nina B. Blanka is a name you notice. The young woman who carries this name is definitely not one to be ignored. A rapper from the ATL hip hop scene, Nina B. Blanka’s music communicates the importance of developing one’s strengths and having control through independence. She’s a young woman with an incredible drive for achieving her dreams. The powerful combination of beauty, talent, and business acumen makes her, a Boss.

During a recent conversation, Nina B. Blanka expressed, “My music is considered CountUp music. It’s a fun music that talks about being a Boss and working hard to get what you want out of life. I want to inspire young people not to depend on others for self worth, but to feel good about having a job, working hard to climb the ladder of success, and be in positions of power.”

Developing a musical interest was no accident. Growing up in Detroit, and being able to absorb the greatness of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin in proximity over many years instilled in her not only a love of music, but also a love for the process of creating music. In her youth, she began to write poetry, which led to her writing rap lyrics. She has a strong work ethic and often works 17 hours a day, but creating music does not feel like work to Nina B. Blanka.

Not only does she write some of the hardest hitting lyrics, she also has a head for business managing one of the biggest recording studios in the ATL area, “Hot Beats Recording Studios,” where many of today’s hip hop stars spent session time such as Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and many more.

Well known in the ATL music community, Nina B. Blanka continues to make waves as the “Banjo Boss,” a term she created when her first mixtape, “Banjo Lingo” was released. Nina B. Blanka says “Banjo means money, and most refer to money in the South as Bands. I just put my own twist on it! I love being original, setting trends, and being the girl that’s different.”

Listen to Nina B. Blanka.

Mama C: You Gotta Claim It

A rebel with many causes may sound cliche at first take, but even cliches often speak to truth, and Mama C is truth. I will not take time reviewing her backstory easily found online about the reasons behind the transition from Charlotte Hill O’Neal from Kansas City, Kansas into Mama C from Tanzania, Africa. However, her life story has a direct connection with the trajectory of the civil rights movement in the U. S., and the empowerment of people whose voices could no longer lay in silence. She was in the mix.

The fromacloud video interview with Mama C focuses on her. Her womanhood, her passions, and her personal foundation. A foundation anchored by the spirit of growing up in Kansas, and nurtured in social awareness by The Black Panther Party to develop a global world view. Her deep love for the Arts, which began in America wraps around the essence of her existence. Mama C has a profound need to help others, a need that extends through her music, poetry, and quilt art.

Building a life in Tanzania, and establishing the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC) with her husband, Mzee Pete O’Neal, demonstrates the power people have to create positive change. Through the UAACC, they have planted many seeds of learning. The Center helps youth develop into their confident selves through computer and English classes, and flourish through poetry, and sewing.

Watch and listen to Mama C speak truth.

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