Thursday, July 2, 2020

Being Black in 2020

This was on someone’s Facebook page, and I post this cautiously because I didn’t want to “stir the pot”, yet all people need to be reminded that the following things happened to Black Americans. After MLK died, Black folks got quiet, nonetheless with the “Black Lives Matter” movement we shall rise for equality. Remember, you can help to make a change in ALL the 2020 elections. You must VOTE! (some words have been changed or omitted by this writer) - VTP

“Black People can’t..."
Dear Social Media Friends,

I am about to say some harsh things and you may not like it. But I pray that you will pause your life and hear me. 

Black people in America are, ONCE AGAIN, grieving. We are hurting because YET AGAIN, this country sends the message loud and clear that we will never be equal. And a lot of you…my friends…don’t know about it, don’t care about it, don’t believe it, refuse to see it and at the very least, you aren’t willing to take a stand against it. How can you love me if this is where “we” stand? How can I walk hand in hand with you knowing that I will ALWAYS be treated differently? How can I worship with you, when I know that we are only one political FB rant/post away from you disregarding my life and the lives of those who look like me?  So yeah, I’m tired. Downright exhausted. But today I want you to pause, and if you are willing to go on a journey beyond yourself, beyond your interests, beyond your privilege…then keep reading. And if you don’t know these names, GOOGLE THEM! LEARN! Get a better understanding of why Black people, in and out of different circles, are NOT OKAY!  We have been murdered by white people in this country for CENTURIES!!!! And believe it or not, it’s still LEGAL to take our lives! So read, educate yourself. See why it’s downright TRAUMA to live in this nation as a black person…thinking about our every word and step, wondering if someone will feel so threatened by it that they take our lives. READ! And after you’re done reading…tell your friends, tell your family, tell your neighbors, tell those cops… And maybe if YOU speak up enough, maybe if you stop tolerating it, they will #STOPKILLINGUS! 

BEING BLACK IN AMERICA:
We can’t go jogging (#AhmaudArbery).
We can’t relax in the comfort of our own homes (#BothemJean and #AtatianaJefferson). 
We can't ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride). 
We can't have a cellphone (#StephonClark). 
We can't leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards). 
We can't play loud music (#JordanDavis).
We can’t sell CD's (#AltonSterling).
We can’t sleep (#AiyanaJones)
We can’t walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).
We can’t play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).
We can’t go to church (#Charleston9).
We can’t walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).
We can’t hold a hair brush while leaving our own bachelor party (#SeanBell).
We can’t party on New Years (#OscarGrant).
We can’t get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland).
We can’t lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).
We can't break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).
We can’t shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford) .
We can’t have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).
We can’t read a book in our own car (#KeithScott).
We can’t be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover).
We can’t decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).
We can’t ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).
We can’t cash our check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).
We can’t take out our wallet (#AmadouDiallo).
We can’t run (#WalterScott).
We can’t breathe (#EricGarner).
We can’t live (#FreddieGray).
We can't serve our country (#VanessaGuillen)
We’re tired. 
Tired of making hashtags.
Tired of trying to convince you that our #BlackLivesMatter too. 
Tired of dying.
Tired, Tired, Tired.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

‘Fickling Construction’ teams with the FL Theatre

The historic, nonprofit Florida Theatre welcomes “Fickling Construction” as its newest Corporate Partner.  Though their Corporate Partnership with the Theatre is new, President of Fickling Construction, Alan Fickling, has been a supporter since 2012.  "My family and Fickling Construction have enjoyed Florida Theatre for many years.  We are happy to support the Florida Theatre and the variety of performances they bring to our great city throughout the year," said Fickling."  Our company has been part of Jacksonville for more than 50 years.  We're committed to the city and North Florida, and we're proud to have this partnership with Florida Theatre."

“The historic Florida Theatre is pleased to play its part in providing Northeast Florida with the music, dance and theatre programs that are part of what gives Jacksonville the unique character that we have all come to appreciate, and expect, as residents of a great city,” said Florida Theatre President, Numa Saisselin.  “The theatre earns 85% of its annual budget from its business activities, and support from the business community, like our Corporate Partner, Fickling Construction, helps to close that small budget gap every year and keep the Florida Theatre and its programs something special for our community.”

The historic, nonprofit Florida Theatre is sponsored by Community First Credit Union. For a complete list of upcoming events or to buy tickets visit the Theatre's official web site floridatheatre.com.

About Fickling Construction: Founded in 1965 and based in Jacksonville, Florida, Fickling Construction provide Preconstruction and Construction Services.  Their experienced and helpful staff knows how to make sure projects stay on schedule and in budget, with a focus on quality and not-only meeting but exceeding the construction industry’s best practices.

About Florida Theatre: From ballet and opera to contemporary pop, jazz, rock, country and blues the nonprofit Florida Theatre offers 200 cultural and entertainment events annually for every taste and age.  More than just an entertainment center, Florida Theatre is also home to graduations, awards ceremonies, lectures, business meetings and charity events that support the community's schools, churches, hospitals and civic groups.  As an anchor to downtown development along the beautiful St. Johns River, Florida Theatre draws 250,000 people to Jacksonville's center each year.  The magnificently restored Florida Theatre is recognized as one of the finest concert venues in the Southeast. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Florida Theatre holds special memories for four generations. From the Vaudeville acts and silent films of its earliest days to today's blend of performances of all kinds, the Florida Theatre has served as Jacksonville's premier entertainment center since 1927.

Thrasher-Horne Center has limited reopening



In response to Florida’s COVID-19 Phase 2 protocols, Thrasher-Horne Center has reopened its doors for rental events with limited capacity.

St. Johns River State College President, Joe Pickens states, “We are happy to be able to reopen Thrasher-Horne Center for rental events and continue our great partnership with Clay County.  The safety and well-being of our guests and staff is of upmost importance to us.”

Details of Thrasher-Horne Center’s reopening protocols include the following:

·         All visitors on St. Johns River State College campus are required to wear face masks.
·         Group gatherings must be 50 people or less.
·         Social distancing rules apply.

For a complete list of these protocols visit THcenter rentals for more information.  Protocols may be updated as CDC guidelines in Florida’s reopening phases change.

St. Johns River State College and Thrasher-Horne Center continue to assess the situation and will provide updates as they come available.  If you have any questions, or are interested in and event, please contact their Ticket Office at (904) 276 - 6815 ext. 1 or email them.

LOCATION: The Thasher-Horne Ctr.
      St. Johns River State College
      283 College Drive

      Orange Park, FL 32065


Come back to the Cummer Gardens - it’s safe


The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens invites you to come take a moment to experience the healing power of art in nature.  The Museum is excited to announce its reopening plans to welcome you back this summer, beginning in phases on June 20, 2020.  The first phase of the Museum’s reopening will provide access to the historic riverfront gardens; phase two will include reopening the Museum’s galleries and exhibitions.

June 20 through 21 | The gardens will reopen for a special FREE admission weekend for everyone in our community.  Timed tickets are required and must be reserved here.



  • FREE admission on Sat., June 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., sponsored by Florida Blue.
  • FREE admission on Sun., June 21, will be available from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
June 23 through 26 | The gardens will open to members only from Tues., June 23, through Fri., June 26.  Timed tickets are required and must be reserved here.

June 27 | The gardens will reopen under normal operating hours to everyone in the community starting Sat., June 27.  Timed tickets are required and must be reserved here.

In order to prioritize the health of our guests and our staff, and to minimize touch points and onsite capacity, all visitors must reserve a timed ticket for entry.  Tickets will be for two-hour time increments and are limited per time slot.  Be sure to secure your preferred time before tickets sell out.  Tickets for the upcoming week will be added every Monday morning.  Check back often for updates.

Tickets are free to members and children 5 and under.  Tickets for adults, seniors, military, and students are $5.  Healthcare workers and first responders (with ID) are free.  And don't forget, everyone can take advantage of their free admission days.

The galleries and exhibitions will reopen during phase two later this summer.  If you have questions or concerns please contact Visitor Experience, or call (904) 356–6857.

RESERVE YOUR TICKET TODAY: Your health and safety are the Cummer Museum’s top priority.  They’ve gone to great lengths to ensure the utmost safety of our visitors and staff upon reopening.  Click here to review some of the measures they’ve taken and will continue to take upon reopening.  Please be advised masks will be required – you may either wear your own, or one will be provided for you upon arrival.

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
   829 Riverside Avenue
   Jacksonville, Florida 32204
   (904) 356-6857

Friday, June 12, 2020

Cummer Museum to host a Black Lives Matter Zoom discussion



Culture and conversation will be happening at the Cummer Museum of Arts & Gardens, in response to current events through the arts.  Throughout history, artists have used their art forms to amplify conversations surrounding the injustices that have shaped the country and world.

As part of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens' focused efforts to continue to collaborate on initiatives with community partners, we hope you will join us on Tuesday, June 16, 7 to 8 p.m., for a FREE panel discussion on how the arts communicate a message to respond to current events.

The panel will be moderated by Wanda Willis, the Museum's Director of Community Development, and will feature an esteemed group of arts and culture leaders in our community.  Virtual guests are invited to register HERE to receive a Zoom link to connect with the panel discussion.  Space is limited; so, register today!

DATE: Tuesday, June 16, 2020
TIME: 7 to 8 p.m.
COST: FREE
MODERATOR: Wanda Willis, Director of Community Development for the Cummer Museum
PANELISTS: Shawana Brooks and Roosevelt Watson, Founders of 6 Feet Away Gallery.  Mal Jones, Hip Hop Artist and Creator of The Lyricist Live.  Erin Kendrick, Artist and Art Instructor at JAMS (Jacksonville Arts & Music School).  Adonnica Toler, Ritz Theatre & Museum Administrator.  Joy Young, Executive Director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.

Florida Theatre continues partnership with Main Street America


Main Street America Group, a Corporate Partner of the Florida Theatre since 2005, has announced its renewed support of the Theatre.

“Main Street America is proud to be a long-time supporter of the Florida Theatre as part of our commitment to support the communities where our employees live and work.  The Theatre’s mission strongly resonates with our employees, who are regular patrons of the Theatre’s great programming.  We are honored to associate ourselves with an organization such as the Florida Theatre, which has such a strong community presence,” said Dave Medvidofsky, Senior Vice President of Human Resources.

"The historic Florida Theatre is pleased to play its part in providing Northeast Florida with the music, dance and theatre programs that are part of what gives Jacksonville the unique character that we have all come to appreciate, and expect, as residents of a great city,” said Florida Theatre President, Numa Saisselin.  “The theatre earns 85% of its annual budget from its business activities, and support from the business community, like our returning Corporate Partner Main Street America, helps to close that small budget gap every year and keep the Florida Theatre and its programs something special for our community.”

The historic, nonprofit Florida Theatre is sponsored by Community First Credit Union. For a complete list of upcoming events or to buy tickets visit the Theatre's official web site.

About Main Street America Group: Founded in 1923, The Main Street America Group provides insurance to individuals, families and small businesses in 37 states, as well as provides fidelity and surety bonds in 47 states and the District of Columbia.  A.M. Best rates Main Street America with an "A" (Excellent) Financial Strength Rating, with a Stable Outlook, as well as an “a+” Issuer Credit Rating.  Main Street America writes business through eight carriers: NGM Insurance Company, Old Dominion Insurance Company, Main Street America Assurance Company, MSA Insurance Company, Grain Dealers Mutual Insurance Company, Main Street America Protection Insurance Company, Spring Valley Mutual Insurance Company and Austin Mutual Insurance Company.  Learn more about how we take care of our customers better than anyone else.

About Florida Theatre: From ballet and opera to contemporary pop, jazz, rock, country and blues the nonprofit Florida Theatre offers 200 cultural and entertainment events annually for every taste and age.  More than just an entertainment center, Florida Theatre is also home to graduations, awards ceremonies, lectures, business meetings and charity events that support the community's schools, churches, hospitals and civic groups.  As an anchor to downtown development along the beautiful St. Johns River, Florida Theatre draws 250,000 people to Jacksonville's center each year.  The magnificently restored Florida Theatre is recognized as one of the finest concert venues in the Southeast. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Florida Theatre holds special memories for four generations. From the Vaudeville acts and silent films of its earliest days to today's blend of performances of all kinds, the Florida Theatre has served as Jacksonville's premier entertainment center since 1927.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

'Whose Live Anyway?' heads to JAX next year

The Florida Theatre proudly welcomes the critically-acclaimed improv show “Whose Live Anyway?” on Friday, February 26, 2021.  The current cast members of the Emmy-nominated TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? are proud to present their new improv tour: Whose Live Anyway?

“Whose Live Anyway?” is 90 minutes of hilarious improvised comedy and song all based on audience suggestions.  Cast members Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis and Joel Murray will leave you gasping with the very witty scenes they invent before your eyes.  Audience participation is key to the show so bring your suggestions and you might be asked to join the cast onstage!  Whose Live Anyway? showcases some of the improv games made famous on the long-running TV show as well as some exciting new ones, featuring musical direction by Bob Derkach.

All ages are welcome, but please note that some “PG-13” language will be used during the performance.

The historic, nonprofit Florida Theatre is sponsored by Community First Credit Union.  For a complete list of upcoming events or to buy tickets visit the Florida Theatre’s official website.

Whose Live Anyway
DATE: Fri., Feb. 26, 2021
TIME: 8 p.m.
TICKETS: $35 – $55


LOCATION:The Florida Theatre
      128 East Forsyth Street.
      Jacksonville, FL 32202
      (904) 355-2787


‘Jake Shimabukuro’ and ‘Orleans’ at the WJCT Soundstage this Fall

Jacksonville, Florida is making plans to bring you some upcoming entertainment to you.  WJCT, in partnership with the Florida Theatre, announces that “Jake Shimabukuro” will perform at the WJCT Soundstage on October 2, 2020 and “Orleans” will perform on Wed., Nov. 11, 2020.  Tickets are available for purchase at wjct.org/events.

Shimabukuro, an award-winning ukulele player whose works have topped Billboard’s World Music Chart on numerous occasions, gained worldwide fame when a 2006 YouTube video of him playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” became one of the first-ever viral videos. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including: Yo-Yo Ma, Jimmy Buffett, Bette Midler, Cyndi Lauper, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Dave Koz, Michael McDonald, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Tommy Emmanuel and Marty Friedman.  His most recent album, “The Greatest Day” (2018), features new original instrumental compositions and covers of beloved songs by The Beatles, Ed Sheeran, Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Cohen.

Orleans, an American soft rock band, gained stardom during the 1970s topping charts with their iconic hit singles, “Dance With Me” and “Still the One.” The band’s name evolved from the music it was playing when it formed, which was inspired by Louisiana artists such as Allen Toussaint and the Neville Brothers.

The WJCT Soundstage presents live performances in a unique and intimate setting, from local and international touring musicians, as part of WJCT’s Jacksonville Music Experience.

“Jake’s enchanting musical style resonates with fans of various genres, and patrons will be amazed at Orleans’ performance of their chart-topping hits and unique pop/rock sound,” said David McGowan, President and CEO of WJCT.  “We look forward to welcoming Jake Shimabukuro and Orleans to the WJCT Soundstage, and thank our friends at the Florida Theatre for joining us in bringing these world-class musical artists to Jacksonville.”

“Our partnership with WJCT allows us to offer Northeast Florida music fans a unique concert experience that complements the theatre atmosphere. Together, our organizations share a commitment to presenting the highest quality events in a safe and engaging environment,” said Numa Saisselin, President of the Florida Theatre.

Ticket sales may be restricted to ensure social distancing regulations are followed. For more information about the WJCT Soundstage, visit wjct.org/jaxmusic.

About WJCT: WJCT is the community-owned and operated public media organization serving Jacksonville and the First Coast since 1958, using television, radio, digital media, and live events to help community members learn, share, and grow. For more information on WJCT’s in-depth programming content, log on to WJCT Online at wjct.org. Like WJCT on Facebook (facebook.com/wjctjax) and follow WJCT on Twitter (@WJCTJax) and Instagram (@WJCTJax).

LOCATION:
WJCT Soundstage
100 Festival Park Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Come or go with an Alhambra meal

Experience the magic of the “Cinderella” menu in the comfort of your own home!  Take a look at the takeout menu options for Fri., June 12 – Sun., June 14.

Takeout Hours: Fri.: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.; Sat. – Sun: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.; 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Family-Style Meal: Fri., June 12 – Sun., June 14 (4 servings).  Grilled Pork Chops - center cut pork chops, barbecue glaze, corn pudding, zucchini & squash medley, with dessert of Mini Dip & Roll - cake skewers with caramel, chocolate, brown sugar, whipped cream.  $55

EntrĂ©e Options for Fri., June 12 – Sun., June 14 (1 serving/each) Slow Roasted Tri-Tip Sirloin with natural jus, pan-roasted rosemary potatoes, roasted asparagus, cherry tomatoes, with dessert of Mini Dip & Roll - cake skewers with caramel, chocolate, brown sugar, whipped cream *GF* without dessert.  OR Glazed Salmon - glazed with garlic, honey & soy sauce, brown rice gratin, almonds, roasted wax beans, with dessert of Mini Dip & Roll - cake skewers with caramel, chocolate, brown sugar, whipped cream *GF* without dessert.  OR Grilled Pork Chops - center cut pork chops, barbecue glaze, corn pudding, zucchini & squash medley, with dessert of Mini Dip & Roll - cake skewers with caramel, chocolate, brown sugar, whipped cream.  OR Summer Barbecue Bowl - barbecue jackfruit, roasted corn, zucchini & squash, barbecue baked beans, topped with Brussels sprout slaw and fried corn chips, with dessert of Mini Dip & Roll - cake skewers with caramel, chocolate, brown sugar, whipped cream *GF* without dessert.  $20 each.

Click curbside-to-go dining-program or call the box office at 904.641.1212 to place your order and let us take care of dinner!

Price includes tax.  Gratuity not included – but much appreciated.  Orders may be placed until 11 a.m. on day of pick-up.  Quantities are limited.  Available while supplies last.

Cinderella

DATES: June 11 through July 20, 2020

SHOW TIMES: Please note, to accommodate the many young families attending this show, doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for evening shows and dinner will start at 6 p.m.

TICKETS: Prices range from $40 – $68.  Children 12 and under are $38 + tax.  Ticket prices include: a plated three-course meal that changes for each show, and is served directly to your table; a Broadway-style performance and complimentary parking.  Tickets may be purchases by calling (904) 641-1212.
     **Prices do NOT include gratuity, professional photos, or orders from the bar**

LOCATION: Alhambra Theater & Dining
       12000 Beach Blvd.
       Jacksonville, Florida 32246
       (904) 641-1212


Friday, June 5, 2020

Unrest in the Land of Opportunity

COVID-19, Protests, Unemployment, Violence & Hurricane Cristobal.  What’s next?  Where is the Love?  What do we do?  How do we survive?  Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has a principle: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Well, some things I just don’t understand.  It reminds me of an old song “Ball of Confusion” by the Temptations, just change some of the words.  We need God now more than ever.

I was 14 when I saw a riot while living in Philadelphia; and it wasn’t pretty.  I went to an all-black Catholic Elementary school and wasn’t allowed out at night.  I remember that the 2 grocery stores (Fagan’s & Barney’s) were burned down and other businesses on Ridge Avenue.  There was nothing wrong with the white people who owned the stores; as a matter of fact, they extended “credit” to those who didn’t have any money until their next government check was in the mail.  These store owners kept food on many a table.  I never thought that I would experience such looting and building burning nonsense again in my lifetime until now.  I am saddened.

White people are more apprehensive now than ever before (To To Where Are We?).  Some are afraid of retaliation or being seen as the enemy.  This situation is like “wearing a mask”.  Do we think of how wearing a mask is helping ourselves, or does wearing one help others around us?  What will I gain verses what someone else is dealing with?  How can I make this world a better place, is the question that we would be asking ourselves?  I’m tying to understand – are you?  How does the song, “We Are The World” come into play today?

Businesses have been looted and that causes more increase on unemployment, nevertheless, looting was not done by protestors, but by greedy, lawless, immature people who wanted to obtain something from nothing.  Because of their acts of violence, we have to earn the right to be respected.  Once again, all protestors are not rioters!

The “Pledge of Allegiance” still does not give equality for all.  Blacks have recited this poem for decades and it never pertained to black people.  We have tried to obtain liberty and justice for all, yet we haven’t started to get justice until these recent days.

Colin Kaepernick (and now, many others) are taking a knee.  It’s not about putting our hands over our heart and standing up tall.  We need to respect the American Flag for what it stood for.  The flag represents the lives that were lost during wartimes and the colonies that were set free, but are we all free?  Now we are fighting another war; a war of hatred that exists in the minds and hearts of some people.  If “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem is wrong, consider it part of the “New Normal” instead of a sign of disrespect.  We are NOT disrespecting the American Flag, yet America is NOT being “Great Again”.  We are living in a time of change, and it’s time to SEE a difference made in our lifetime.  It would be lovely to exist in a land where you’re not judged by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character.

My heart aches for those biracial couples and their children who may experience racial slurs, criticism, or bullying.  This hatred has got to stop being spread from generations to generations.  Hatred seems to be another form of virus that is spreading throughout the land.

We live in a cul-de-sac and are the only blacks in the neighborhood.  Just like a place where we lived in New Mexico, we didn’t realize that we were the only blacks until we relocated to a city in the south.  I was respected more in Europe and Asia than I am living here in the US.  And it’s a shame that I am reminded of words spoken in the past, “If you don’t like it here, go back to Africa where you belong.”  Yes, I remember those thoughtless words and a tear comes to my eye.

The other day I was in Walmart getting supplies to make masks.  As I walked down the aisle (in the correct direction) a white man stared at me directly into my eyes.  He was unmasked and I could see the distain in his eyes.  I checked myself and made sure that my hair wasn’t making me look crazy √.  It happened again with another man standing in line.  I had to check√ again, I was standing 6 feet from him √, wearing my mask √, my deodorant hadn’t failed √.  You want to talk about “a new normal”, we are living in a “new abnormal”.  Things will never be the same again, and some things we hope will change for the better.  Nonetheless, I continue to smile beneath my  mask in hopes that they see the love of Christ through my eyes.


If any of my friends feel uncomfortable about what’s happening today, please listen to “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” - former NFL player Emmanuel Acho, as he tries to explain some of the issues that black men go through.  It has been awhile since I’ve had to think about inequality (2007), nevertheless, I will continue to pray and make changes whenever and wherever I can.