Friday, October 24, 2014

Breaking from
De Blasio: ‘No Reason to Be Alarmed’
A doctor who became New York City's first Ebola patient was praised for getting treatment immediately upon showing symptoms, and health officials stressed that the nation's most populous city need not fear his wide-ranging travel in the days before his illness began.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents not to be alarmed by the doctor's diagnosis Thursday, even as they described him riding the subway, taking a cab and bowling since returning to New York from Guinea a week ago. De Blasio said all city officials followed "clear and strong" protocols in their handling and treatment of him.

Read More Here


Erin Mast photo by Ethelbert
Yesterday at the Aspen Institute I reconnected with Erin Mast. She's the Executive Director of President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home. Several years ago I attended a meeting during which a group discussed all the wonderful programming ideas for the Lincoln Cottage. It's good to see Erin Mast at the helm. Here is a website link:


Black Gold an anthology of Black Poetry has 93 poets and 189 poems. It has a foreword by Tony Medina and and introduction by Lenard D. Moore and an Afterword by Jerry Ward Jr. You can pre order a copy of the first edition by sending a check for $27 to Turner Mayfield Publishing Company 1618 Foxhall Road Savannah Georgia 31406. 

The book even contains work by E. Ethelbert Miller.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Friends Forever

There is always laughter when Maria and I get together. Our friendship extends into family as well as institutions. Many years ago we were founders of the Washington Humanities Council. Maria went on to do great things in the world. The photo below was taken by the poet Fred Ramey. He also read us a poem. I told him it was a blessing. Maria (and her family) is the reason why the world continues to celebrate its beauty.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Laura Poitras at PopTech 2010 conference in Camden, Maine. (Photo: PopTech /flickr CC 2.0)

Edward Snowden and the Golden Age of Spying: An Interview With Laura Poitras

An interview with the Academy-Award nominated documentary filmmaker on her latest film, Citizenfour, a journey to the revelation of government mass surveillance. By Tom Engelhardt

Quote of the Day

Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open.

-- Thomas Dewar

Scottish businessman
Center for Black Literature at MEC, CUNY
Black Renaissance Noire 2014
New York University's
Institute of African American Affairs
Black Renaissance Noire 

Black Renaissance Noire
Volume 14.2 Issue Release:
Readings and Reception - Fall 2014
Friday, October 31, 2014

with readings by
Aracelis Girmay
Yusef Komunyakaa
Jane Rhodes
Lezley Saar
Matthew Shenoda

Readings & Reception
Friday, October 31, 2014
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
New York University
D'Agostino Hall
NYU Law School
108 West Third Street,
Room: Lipton Hall
New York, NY

Free & Open to the Public with Limited Space
Please RSVP to (212) 998-IAAA (4222)
Annual subscriptions (paper & digital) are available
Visit us online:


cover art by:
Lezley Saar, 
Lady Calantha, 2012
   (from Glenavron by Lady Caroline Lamb) 
Acrylic and digital photographs on 
fabric on board
36 x 27 inches

Friday October 31, 2014 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
Add to Calendar

New York University Law School
108 West Third Street
D’Agostino Hall
Room: Lipton Hall
New York, NY 10009
Driving Directions

Center for Black Literature at

Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1650 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225
Phone: 718-804-8883

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CALENDAR ADVISORY: American University Hosts Writer, Journalist and Educator Ta-Nehisi Coates 

WHO: Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of The Beautiful Struggle & Atlantic writer and senior editor

WHEN/WHERE:  Wed., Nov. 5, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Performing Arts Center, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW

Contact: Rebecca Basu, American University Communications, 202-885-5978 or
WHAT:  American University’s McCabe Lecture Series features American writer, journalist, and educator Ta-Nehisi Coates. Free and open to the public.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most original and perceptive voices in black America—and one of our best writers, period. With rich emotional depth and a sonar sense of how pop culture, politics, and history shape discussions of diversity, Coates is “the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation” (Walter Mosley). His Atlantic cover story on slavery and race, "The Case for Reparations," is one of the most talked-about pieces of nonfiction in recent memory.

About his lecture - The Case for Reparations:

The legacy of racism in America is tremendous. Two hundred and fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. It all adds up, and “The Case for Reparations” reignited the long-dormant national conversation of just how to repay African-Americans for a system of institutional racism that’s robbed them of wealth and success for generations.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Breaking from

Gov. Kasich: Obamacare Isn't Going Away
While Republicans in Congress shout, "Repeal Obamacare," GOP governors in many states have quietly accepted the law's major Medicaid expansion. Even if their party wins control of the Senate in the upcoming elections, they just don't see the law going away.
Nine Republican governors have expanded Medicaid for low-income people in their states, despite their own misgivings and adamant opposition from conservative legislators. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said of the repeal ideology: "I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood and real improvements in people's lives."

Read More Here
E. Ethelbert Miller reads poems by Joseph Ross on WPFW 89.3 FM.

E. Ethelbert Miller reads poems by Joseph Ross on WPFW 89.3 FM.

E. Ethelbert Miller reads poems by Joseph Ross about Willie Louis (formerly Willie Reed), the man who testified against the murderers of Emmett Till. 
In my second memoir THE 5TH INNING I wrote the following:

"Everything comes down to balls and strikes. You don't need religion or God to understand this. One can keep a scorecard just like God. Now and then you try to slow things down by stepping out of the box. I like how good hitters step back, adjust their uniforms, stroke their bats, survey the field, spit, grab themselves between the legs, step back into the box, touch their caps, stare at the pitcher, swing the bat a few times, and maybe if you're Ricky Henderson, step back out of the box and do it all over again."

Now read the crazy article (below) in today's newspaper. Here is another example of the destruction of tradition and our failure to teach a younger generation the beauty of the game.


Now and then I meet people in the community that are doing the heavy-lifting. Folks doing research without grants, publishing books using their own funds. If History had a mirror it would hold it up against their faces. I met with Thelma Austin yesterday. She came into my office at Howard carrying several books. Austin is an expert on the black church and its leaders. One book she gave me was FROM THE PULPIT a collection of 40 sermons by pastors in the Washington area. We often talk about the black church being a key pillar in the black community but who is documenting what the church is doing today? This is where one finds "Saint Thelma" walking among us. In my conversation with Thelma Austin I mentioned how she needed institutional support for what she was doing.

She needed to be affiliated with an organization that could help move her work to a higher level.
So much black history is being saved by people working outside the academic world. There are two scholarly trains running in the black community and one seems to be a underground railroad. We will continue to fail ourselves if we fail each other. Thelma is doing what someone might call God's work.

She can be contacted at:
Praise Press
P.O.Box 56478
Washington, D.C. 20040

Thelma Austin photo taken by Ethelbert

Today is "Bev Day."
Happy Birthday to one of my best friends.
We had dinner last night at an Indian Restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Bev is always on the move so I couldn't resist taking this picture of her.
She's holding two copies of my new book - FALTA DE AR - which
just happens to be dedicated to her. Happy Birthday B.

Yesterday I went down to One Judiciary Square and voted early. I ran into 2 people running for public office and briefly chatted with them. One was my old friend David Schwartzman the other was Carol Schwartz. Funny how you always want to get names straight before you vote. Schwartman is running for the United States Senator and Schwartz for mayor of D.C. It's so important to see voting as something more than yard signs and a few debates. I link voting to everything that is wrong and right in the world. How many people won't vote between now and November 4th? How many will vote on November 4th?  Democracy is a very fragile thing. Too often we tend to drop it.

Well, I voted for the people I thought will do a good job in public office. I was given a little sticker with an American Flag -I Voted Early. Maybe folks should start stamping our thumbs purple when we leave the voting site. I exited and was hoping to see someone like former president Jimmy Carter monitoring the election. Strange things can happen in a democracy. As I walked away, two people came up to me and asked why I wasn't on the ballot. They said they would have voted for me.

I laughed and told them that I had a military uniform in the back of my closet.

Monday, October 20, 2014


10/20/2014 11:39 AM EDT

Saturday, October 25, 1:45 PM

Pulitzer Prize finalist and Texas state Poet Laureate Dean Young discusses favorite poems with Poetry and Literature Center Head Robert Casper. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit

Location: Capitol Auditorium Room E1.004, Texas State Capitol Extension, 1100 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX
Contact: (202) 707-5394



The Goucher Prison Education Partnership (GPEP) invites you to an information session for individuals interested in supporting students who are incarcerated.  GPEP offers Goucher College courses and college preparatory courses to students at two Maryland prisons. 

Interested in working with GPEP during the Spring 2015 semester? Be sure to attend one of the following information sessions: 

 Sunday November 9, 2014 from 6:00 – 8: 00 PM or
Sunday November 23, 2014 from 6:00 – 8: 00 PM

Hoffberger 137
Goucher College 
1021 Dulaney Valley Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21204


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Breaking from
Pope Francis: Church Should Not Fear Change

Pope Francis has closed an assembly of Catholic bishops that revealed deep divisions on how to respond to homosexuality and divorce, saying on Sunday the Church should not be afraid of change and new challenges.

Francis, who has said he wants a more merciful and less rigid Church, made his comments in a sermon to some 70,000 people in St. Peter's Square for the ceremonial closing of a two-week assembly, known as a synod.
Read More Here

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Today was a beautiful fall day. I did some yard work and then took a walk around the neighborhood.

I walked from Brentwood to Petworth. I made a short stop at Culture Coffee (709 Kennedy Street, NW). I wanted to see where this new black-owned coffee shop was located. Down the street around 8th and Kennedy - Brandon Kramer and crew were shooting a documentary film. Kramer is the co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures. I spoke with them for a few minutes and then headed down to Petworth Citizen ( on Upshur Street) to grab a burger and talk with a friend. I felt like Wendell Berry taking a stroll; if only I knew all the names of the leaves and trees. Maybe I could write poems that had wings or could laugh with clouds.

Brandon Kramer and Crew photo by Ethelbert


It was good to see Nicholas Basbanes again. He was the featured speaker yesterday at the Library of Congress - National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest Awards Ceremony. Basbanes is the author of A GENTLE MADNESS: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books. During his talk Basbanes made reference to the work of Charles Blockson. The few times I met and laughed with Blockson he always reminded me of Robeson. In these digital times how many of us are still collectors and people of the book?  In A GENTLE MADNESS Basbanes writes about Blockson as well as Arthur Alfonso Schomburg. Let's continue the tradition.

Nicholas A. Basbanes photo by Ethelbert


A political debate shouldn't be a poetry slam. Yesterday I listened to the final debate between the 3 people running for mayor of D.C. It's obvious Catania is the best candidate. Put aside issues of race and temperament (and other distractions) and just give points on content. Catania gives the best answers to difficult questions. After years of writing and listening to poetry I know BS when I hear it.

This is what I keep hearing from people who run for high office in this city. People recite their resume before they shake your hand. Old ties to a city can sometimes be like old ties to a plantation.

At the end of the day one needs to dream about Canada and find a new narrative. I would never confuse Catania with John Brown but the city could use an abolitionist these days. I live in Ward 4 and have listened to Bowser. She's a nice person but she's not Tubman. Many of us will vote for the person we simply like - but should I vote for a person by listening to what my mother taught me?

Should I look to see if their shoes are polished or a slip is hanging?  Should I watch them chew their food at a local meet and greet?  Of course not. I once got my mother to vote for John Lindsay when he was running for mayor of New York. For the first time ever my mother voted for someone who wasn't a Democrat. So many years later - I ask you - do you want a pilot who knows how to fly a plane or do you want a flight attendant? I listen to Bowser and she only seems to be telling me to have a nice flight and our city and can do better. Come Monday however - I'm going to vote early and vote for Catania. I suggest everyone vote and put their mask on first -then help the citizen sitting beside you. Oh, and trust God and the pilot.