Runaway Spoon

Patti LaBelle brings the crowd to its feet at a night of joy in a Dr. King tribute

August 26, 2011

In a show-stopping, stompin’ grand finale to the Martin Luther King Jr. concert Thursday night, soul singer Patti LaBelle kicked off her red-soled high during a spirited performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The shoes flew heels into the clapping, swaying audience that included the King family, others who participated in the legend of MLK, and young people who follow in the footsteps of the Civil Right Movement and basked this night in the forever light of the great human rights leader.

City Council member Marion Barry (left), Congressman and civil rights champion John Lewis, and Mayor Gray (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) City Council member Marion Barry (left), Congressman and civil rights champion John Lewis, and Mayor Gray

As storm warnings punctuated the day, yes, the creek did rise… but God was willing. So, the evening went on as a prelude to the dedication of the MLK Memorial.

DC political strategist Vernon Hawkins (left) and Mayor Vincent Gray at the reception (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) DC political strategist Vernon Hawkins (left) and Mayor Vincent Gray at the reception

To start the evening, Mayor Vincent Gray, Uptown magazine and a cadre of businesses hosted a private reception at Arena Stage.

Gray used the occasion to pitch his favorite cause: statehood for DC, and as he spoke a chant erupted from the 500 or so attendees: “Free DC!, Free DC!, Free DC!” Gray also joked that the city couldn’t let such a great tribute as the dedication of the MLK monument happen without “something special… “so we ordered up an earthquake.”

Where was he when the earth moved?  “I was a passenger in a car… it started shaking. I said, ‘Man, you need a tune up on this car.’”

City Council member Vincent Orange and civil right activist Cora Masters Barry (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) City Council member Vincent Orange and civil right activist Cora Masters Barry

Carolyn Malachi performs at the Mayor’s reception (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Carolyn Malachi performs at the Mayor’s reception

Legendary civil rights leader Georgia Rep. John Lewis, in rich baritone voice reminiscent of the styles of men of the pulpit, recounted that when he first saw the King monument, he gently touched the statue, and wept.  Lewis, once chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), was one of the planners and keynote speakers of the 1963 March on Washington, the occasion of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Virginia H. Williams who once sang for MLK (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Virginia H. Williams who once sang for MLK

Afterwards, the jubilant scene shifted to the Washington Convention Center where thousands listened to LaBelle, The Impressions, Eddie Lavert, the Naturally 7, and more top performers belted out familiar oldies of the 60s and 70s, and inspirational international songs of current times.

Barbara Lang, president & CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce listens to a friend at the reception (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Barbara Lang, president & CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce listens to a friend at the reception

In the audience were the Rev. Jesse Jackson and film star Cuba Gooding Jr.

Another guest was Virginia Hayes Williams, who, years ago in her youth, was privileged to sing for Dr. King in Los Angeles.

Williams is the mother of former mayor Tony Williams and a prime mover in Gray’s mayoralty campaign.  

Virginia Hayes Williams (left) and Judith Terra at the Mayor’s reception in front of a MLK poster (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Virginia Hayes Williams (left) and Judith Terra at the Mayor’s reception in front of a MLK poster

Way back when, Williams and her children raised money by baking and selling cakes and cookies for Dr. King’s civil rights movement.  At that time, “Mother Williams”  -- as she is now frequently referred to -- was a professional who did gigs in the film industry, singing tunes that were dubbed into the roles of actresses who lacked vocal skills.

Channel 9 newswoman JC Hayward (left) and PR executive Linda Greene at the Mayor’s reception (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Channel 9 newswoman JC Hayward (left) and PR executive Linda Greene at the Mayor’s reception

During a trip to LA, Dr. King heard about Williams’ voice and her dedication to the freedom movement. Dr.  King asked church leaders if Williams would sing for him one of the greatest, most poignant gospel hymns ever written: “It is Well with My Soul.”

She did so in a solo performance. “He had tears in his eyes,” she recalls, “and said how much he missed his children growing up.”  

On Friday, a Women Who Dare to Dream luncheon drew a stellar group of many hundreds of high achieving women to the convention center. Dr. Maya Angelou read "Abundant Hope," her new work honoring Dr. King.

Harry E. Johnson Sr., president and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, explained at the luncheon that the official dedication ceremonies will be rescheduled for a later date due to the oncoming hurricane hitting the East Coast.  He said that people can make all the plans they want but sometimes they must be changed because God has the final word.

 


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Georgetown plays Taiwan team ... in Shanghai

August 23, 2011

Could it be that ping-pong diplomacy has advanced to the level of playing hoops?

The Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team scrimmaged against the Chinese Taipei National Team Tuesday – in Shanghai, China!   It’s the final competition of Georgetown’s adventurous trip to China.  A Taiwan team in China for a scrimmage with the Hoyas sends up a stream of positive vibes, at least on the hardwood court.

That scrimmage is the final competition of the Hoyas’ adventurous trip to China.

Georgetown won against the Chinese Taipei National Team 83 to 64.

Earlier, after working with Chinese youth and coaches at special clinics at Nike’s Festival of Sport facility, the team enjoyed a leisurely day in Shanghai on Monday. After shopping, they met up afterwards at the United States Consulate – a place the tour guide said was commonly referred to by most people as “Starbucks.”

Greg Whittington shows how to Just Do It. (Photo by: Georgetown Sports Information) Greg Whittington shows how to Just Do It.

Street vendors hawked a variety of items, mostly watches.  Hoyas strength and conditioning coach Mike Hill, Head Athletic Trainer Shawn Hendi and Sports Information Director Mex Carey each came away with new watches-- let’s hope the instruments keep ticking longer than those knock-offs sold by Manhattan’s street traders. 

Following the visit to Old Shanghai, the Hoyas toured the Shanghai World Financial Center, the super-tall skyscraper in Pudong that is the second-tallest building in the world.  The view of the city from the observation deck was described as amazing by team.


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Take this ball ...and bounce it!

August 20, 2011

Fresh from their unscheduled exposure to ultimate fighting, the Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team turned to football drills, treadmill competition and playing another exhibition game as their China trip moved from Beijing to Shanghai.

The team relaxed at a Festival of Sport, being held in Shanghai and considered to be the most comprehensive sporting event in China since the 2008 Olympic Games. 

NBA stars Amare Stoudamire of the New York Knicks, Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers cheered as the Georgetown Coach John Thompson III’s men’s basketball team defeated the Liaoning Dinosaurs in Shanghai on Sunday.

It was Georgetown’s first game since arriving in Shanghai and the teams’s first action since the now-internationally famous brawling matchup in Beijing against the Bayi Rockets that ended as heated exchanges erupted between the teams.

Some 1,000 basketball fans showed up at the court built by Nike for its Festival of Sport in Shanghai. Jason Clark led the Hoyas with 17 points in the 91-69 victory.

“If you looked at the events that happened the other day, that’s not the norm.  The reception that our team got today and the atmosphere here today was much more consistent with what we anticipated, and what we experienced in every game and event since we’ve been here,” said Thompson. 

According to Hoya player Nate Lubick, things proceeded with flair in a visit to the waterfront of the Yangtze River in Shanghai. "It took the team about 20 minutes to be able to gather up and get a picture on the waterfront without any locals running/poising through to get photos with us Americans."

From there, he said, "the team made its premiere at a Chinese McDonalds...(it) served as no disappointment with its standard American cuisine, satisfying all of the young men, most of the young kids, and even some members of the Hoya Hoop Club walked out with smiles on their faces." He reported, however, that Scott Greenman, the programs director, referred to the lunch choice as "questionable."

Later, they attended a reception with Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, and "the food was an immediate bingo for the team which has been cherishing any type of Americanized Chinese food we can get our hands on."

The banquet was attended by "a surprisingly large amount of Hoya alumni who are currently living in Shanghai," said Lubick.  "It is amazing to see how far the Georgetown community extends, and to have so many different types of people at different stages of their lives, connected by Georgetown, in one room, was very special."

Before leaving Beijing, Coach Thompson  and two team members met … and traded souvenirs.  It was a peaceful aftermath to the brawl that broke out between the teams during the second half of their game Thursday.  Knock-downs, kicks, chair-swinging, and bottle-throwing erupted during a melee that landed on U.S. front pages and network newscasts.

In Shanghai,  Thompson and the Hoyas hosted clinics for Chinese youths.

 

 

  


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