Interdenominational Theological Center Triumphant After Accreditation Scare, Honors Civil Rights Icons at Global Transformers Gala (PHOTOS included)

galaHello World,

When an invitation to cover the Interdenominational Theological Center’s (ITC) inaugural Global Transformers Gala 2015 showed up in my inbox last week, I knew I had to attend for two reasons. First of all, my father received his doctorate from the school and secondly, it was an opportunity to be among civil rights icons who changed the trajectory of humankind through their contributions! Check out these honorees: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, Ambassador Andrew Young, Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Dr. C.T. Vivian; Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, Dr. Barbara Lewis King, Dr. Cameron Madison Alexander, Dr. Lonnie C. King Jr. and Rev. Dr. R.L. White Jr. (Close your mouth! I know you’re impressed.)

Once the event began at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park began last night, I learned that ITC faced losing its accreditation in 2011; however, in the four years since, ITC has worked to address “areas of institutional effectiveness, financial aid, and financial sustainability” according to a press release in the program. As a result, “full, unconditional, reaffirmation concludes a four-year effort by ITC to secure that status.” In fact, ITC’s reaffirmation was just announced at the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges on December 8! So in addition to celebrating civil rights icons, ITC was also celebrating its reaffirmation!

The first person I spoke with was Dr. C.T. Vivian, who was just as gracious in person as he seems to be when I’ve seen him interviewed on television and heard interviews with him on the radio. “I’m thankful to be with these 12 people who did the Civil Rights Movement together,” Vivian said to me in the VIP reception prior to the gala. “I remember all of these people throughout the years and it makes it more like a homecoming than a meeting.”

Dr. C.T. Vivian

I also met Dr. Edward L. Wheeler, who became the president of ITC in January of this year. Below he is pictured with Rev. Dr. R.L. White Jr., one of the honorees and president of ITC’s National Alumni Association.


Below is Dr. Wheeler and Rev. A. Denise Bell, regional minister Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)


After the VIP reception ended, I made my way to the banquet hall where the gala was held. Below are a few photographs of what I saw along the way. (Keep in mind that I’m a writer not a photographer, please : ). )





The Mistress of Ceremony for the evening was one of Atlanta’s finest journalists Mrs. Monica Pearson, who looked gorge in this marigold, green and black African print dress. My picture doesn’t do it or her justice, but you get the idea…She said of the honorees: “We want to honor you while you can still smell the roses.” Agreed…


I roamed around the gala and wound up with a few decent shots of the honorees…Take a look…I’m sure you recognize Congressman John Lewis and Ambassador Andrew Young




Below is some new information that I learned last night that impressed me:

  • Monica Pearson said without Dr. Lonnie King Jr., there would be no Monica Pearson. Apparently, King (no relation to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King), as president of Atlanta’s NAACP in 1969, formed a Community Coalition on Broadcasting to convince television and radio stations to hire black people on and off of the air. According to the April 30, 1970 issue of JET magazine, after a “10-month power struggle” which included the coalition’s persuasion of the FCC to delay the “license renewals of every one of Atlanta’s radio and television stations” for 30 days,  20 of the stations “agreed across the board to coalition demands.” Monica Pearson, who is retired, started her career at Channel 2 Action News in 1975 as Atlanta’s first minority and woman to anchor the 6 p.m. news. And although I’m not television or radio journalist, I’m reasonably sure that Dr. King’s work influenced the hiring of black print journalists in the city as well. Salute!
  • Rev. Dr. R.L. White Jr., who also was president of the NAACP Atlanta branch, spearheaded a gun buyback campaign which led to almost 1,00o guns being taken off the streets in 2014. Salute!
  • Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, who was once pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church, was instrumental in securing 10 acres of land for the church and $1 million that was used for the construction of the church’s cathedral. Salute!

I also spoke with a few of the gala attendees. Below is Timi Simpson, executive assistant to ITC’s vice president of financial services and CFO, and her husband Kenneth Simpson. Simpson was excited about ITC gala as well as its new president. “This is a kickoff of a new birth for ITC. We are introducing our self back into the community and fostering new relationships.”


Below is Carmen Holman, a consultant with the Andrew Young Foundation. “When I saw the honorees, I was immediately impressed with those selected. They are deserving of the recognition. At this day and time, we need this level of inspiration.” 049

Rev. Felice Betaudier, who is an associate minister at Redemptive Life Christian Fellowship in Conyers, says she hopes to enroll at ITC and earn a master of divinity degree.


Below are the honorees who were in attendance last night as well as those who accepted awards on behalf of the honorees who weren’t able to attend. Professional photographer Calvin Evans was gracious enough to allow me to use his photograph of them.

Global Tansformers Gala "ITC" Presidents "Light of the World Award ITC Global Tansformers Award photography by Calvin Evans © 2016 All rights reserved

Global Tansformers Gala “ITC” Presidents “Light of the World Award ITC Global Tansformers Award photography by Calvin Evans © 2016 All rights reserved

And below is a photo of the actual awards…

Global Tansformers Gala "ITC" Presidents "Light of the World Award ITC Global Tansformers Award photography by Calvin Evans © 2016 All rights reserved

Global Tansformers Gala “ITC” Presidents “Light of the World Award ITC Global Tansformers Award photography by Calvin Evans © 2016 All rights reserved

Finally, I asked President Wheeler what the gala meant to him and his reply was, “It means a couple of things. First, it is a celebration of excellence for the honorees and what they displayed because of their faith. It is inspiring. It is also a celebration of ITC coming out again as a voice of justice, a voice of equity and voice of transformation for the betterment of humanity.”

Any thoughts?

Why I’m Down With the Armenian Bishop Who Wasn’t Down With Kimye Shutting Down an Armenian Church…

Hello World,  kimye

I’m proud to say that I have never watched a complete episode of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” as I cannot stand to watch a family whose family values seem to essentially amount to opulent opportunism. And Kim’s New Age Valley Girl spin of the English language is also grating…And her current hubby Kanye ain’t been right since his mother passed away…At first it was understandable because grief can make you do some crazy things…But since then, he has deemed himself a “creative genius” and a “god” and most annoyingly Beyoncé’s  award show fairy godmother…whenever Bey doesn’t win an award he feels she should have won, he magically appears on stage and wreaks havoc…Obviously, he was at her beck and call when he most recently jumped on stage when Beck rather than Bey won the “Album of the Year” Award at this year’s GRAMMYs.

All that to say, the union of Kim and Kanye is bound to kause (cause) konundrums (conundrums) and is rife for ridicule for the rest of our lives or as long as they are married…Kimye’s most recent shenanigans took place in an Armenian church yesterday as the Kardashians are visiting their ancestral home in Armenia. Apparently, Kimye must have confused themselves with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as they attempted to shut the doors of Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God in the city of Gyumri to keep journalists and other nosy folk out of the church. But the local bishop, Mikayel Adjapagian, wasn’t trying to hear all that yang-yang as he did not want to obstruct worshippers from entering the church…This is a bishop that knows his Ten Commandments, namely the first one: You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me…Obviously, I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly how it went down because this how it happened in my crazy writer’s imagination:

Kimye arrives as the entrance of the beautiful Armenian church. Kim purses her lips ever just so and poses in hopes that the paparazzi will take flattering shots of her. Kanye affixes his I’m-too-cool-to-smile-but-I-hope-you’re-looking look as he walks behind her. After a few minutes of this, flanked and guided by big ole bodyguards and haughty handlers, Kimye and Northwest enter the church.

Kim: (stroking her beautiful raven hair like she is a modern-day Morticia Adams) Oh My Gaaawd (taking the Lord’s name in vain with a New Age Valley Girl Twist. Sacrilegious & Annoying… )Like I’m so annoyed…Kaaanye, we’ve got to stop the paps and those other people from coming in behind us…I only want the cameras for the show in here…I mean when we walk back out, I want them to be there of course, but not right nooow…

Kanye: Baby, your man is a God and this is my domain…As it is in my head, so it shall be done on earth…

Enter Bishop Mikayel Adjapagian who walks up to them and shakes their hands while greeting them…

Bishop Mikayel Adjapagian: Welcome Mr. & Mrs. West, we are honored that you are visiting today –

Kanye: (interrupting the bishop) I’mma let you finish, but we need to have the church doors closed immediately to keep the paps and those other people out of my house…Because I’m a god..

Bishop Mikayel Adjapagian: Your house? This is the house of God. You, sir, are a not a god, and I will not allow worshippers to be prevented from entering His house even for you, Mr. West…Furthermore, who told you you were a God?

Kanye: I just told who I thought I was. A god.

Bishop Mikayel Adjapagian: Excuse me? (At this point, baby Northwest, who has been whimpering all along, begins to wail!)

Kanye: I guess you don’t think Beyonce is the mother of God, either?

And it all falls down from here with Syleena Johnson singing faintly in the background…

Later in an Armenian hotel, Kim recounts what happened with Khloé in her Khloé’s hotel room…

Khloé: Aren’t you used that? With Kanye?

Kim: I guess I should let go, and let God…the real God…

Kanye: (who is able to see what is happening in the next door hotel room because he is a god, shrugs)


Any thoughts? (Note: This is all a figment of my imagination…)

The Sunday School Lesson of Selma’s “Bloody Sunday” 50 years later…(Pics from Selma 50 included)

Hello World,

My friend LaTosha Brown and the Obama girls...

My friend LaTosha Brown and the Obama girls…

For those of you who won’t make it to Sunday School this morning because of Daylight Savings Time (I’m opening my eyes wide right now because of that one hour), you don’t have a church home or you haven’t heard about Sunday School but want to know more, I’ve got you with a brief Sunday School lesson for you…Touch your neighbor and say, “Brief.” LOL…

In all seriousness as this subject requires, I cannot imagine living in a world in which I did not have the right to vote and yet that was essentially the case a mere eight years before I was born…Because of three marches in March 1965 from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, particularly the march that occurred on March 7, known as “Bloody Sunday” because of the violence the officers unleashed on the peaceful protestors, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became a law with the signature of President Lyndon B. Johnson…

I believe it is no coincidence that “Bloody Sunday” occurred on a Sunday…Sunday is the day that Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ as he paid for the sins of humankind by shedding His blood and dying on the cross…One of the ultimate lessons in life is that without sacrifice, nothing changes…And the ultimate sacrifice is sacrificing your life or blood…

Because of the sacrifices paid by those involved in the American Civil Rights Movement, black Americans now enjoy many freedoms including the right to vote without facing discrimination although the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 2013 with it’s decision to allow several states to change their election laws without federal preclearance.

That being said, the best way to honor the sacrifices of those on “Bloody Sunday” and in the other marches is to vote in every.single.election.

And, we have to remember that sacrifice is a key tenant in change as we grapple with how to stop black boys from being targeted whether by police officers or others in this country and Christians in Africa and the Middle East from being targeted by Boko Haram and ISIS…

Because Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, as Dr. King said…

And as President Obama, the ultimate fruition of Dr. King’s sacrifice and dream, said yesterday in Selma at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday…

Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person. Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” “We The People.” “We Shall Overcome.” “Yes We Can.” That word is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.

Fifty years from “Bloody Sunday,” our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding our union is not yet perfect, but we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge. When it feels the road is too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example, and hold firmly the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on [the] wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”

To read President Obama’s entire speech, go to

So that was your brief Sunday School lesson…

I wasn’t able to be there yesterday, but my friend LaTosha Brown was there. She wrote about her conflicting emotions as she prepared to go back to Selma, her hometown, this weekend in her blog post “Selma Is More Than A Place; Selma Is A People!” on her blog Little did LaTosha, who is an Atlanta transplant, know that not only would she be returning to her hometown to honor a critical time in our nation’s history she would also be able to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in arms length of of first black president of the United States…LaTosha is just behind First Lady Michelle Obama and is wearing the black sweater with white hearts 🙂


And here are a few more photos of LaTosha and her experience in Selma yesterday and her commentary that I am sharing with her permission…

Yesterday I was unexpectedly selected as part of a delegation to cross the bridge with the President of the United States and his family. I actually stood directly behind the first family. I’m still very happy about the experience. I walked with The foot soldiers and the first family. Can’t get no better than this.

michelleFirst Lady Michelle Obama and LaTosha…(My friend cut off Mrs.Obamas head but I still appreciated this opportunity)

holderGot to take a photo with former Attorney General Holder...

bushA familiar face…Former President Bush and LaTosha…(Guess who gladly took a selfie and cracked a joke?!)

obamaPresident Obama and Congressman John Lewis, one of the protestors beaten on “Bloody Sunday”…(I asked the President for a selfie and he cracked a joke and said, “I can’t take a selfie with you because then everybody would want one.” But I did get a photo from walking across the bridge behind him while leading freedom songs with him and his family, and foot soldiers.)

Any thoughts?