Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Some New York City Destinations for African American History Month

Image attribution: from Finding Priscilla's Children: The Roots and Branches of Slavery (on exhibit at the New York Historical Society through March 19, 2006) Accessed February 19, 2006.

WESTCHESTER, NY - Throughout February, places of worship, community groups, cultural entities, families and most media outlets are offering a satisfying smorgasbord of African American History Month offerings. A few destinations in the New York metropolitan area that I highly recommend include:


The landmark exhibition "Slavery in New York" (extended through March 26, 2006)

Finding Priscilla's Children: The Roots and Branches of Slavery (through March 19, 2006)

Facsimile of the Emancipation Proclamation (through March 26, 2006)

  • Also see: NYC & Co.'s "Celebrating NYC's African-American Heritage" and local listings



  • "The Color Purple"
  • American Place Theater held performances of Black Boy, Manchild in the Promised Land, and Zora. Click here to register for news and notices of upcoming events.
  • Also see: NYC & Co.'s "Celebrating NYC's African-American Heritage" and local listings

Historical Sites and Tours (excerpted from NewYorkology: A New York Travel Guide):

Historical Sites:


Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!" A must-hear during February/African American History Month

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY - So little time, so much to share. On the radio, that is. In my 90 minutes of air time on New York Radio WVOX AM 1460 and www.wvox.com during African American History Month*, I missed the beat by playing only one of the two must-hear songs during February. I opened and closed the February 8 Lisa Tolliver Show with one: the Black National Anthem/"Lift Every Voice and Sing." (Click here to hear it, click here for the lyrics.) I never did play James Brown's, "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!"

Don't leave February without it! Click here to hear a sample of "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!" Click here to read the lyrics. At that site, you can also listen to Brown's opening statement at his "Say It Live & Loud: Live in Dallas" concert in 1968, and other songs by this singer/activist known as "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Mr. Dynamite," and "Soul Brother Number One." You can also click here to access James Brown's bio, interviews and photos at VH1.com.

* My February 2006 broadcasts included:

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Westchester County Emergency Volunteer Reserves-Medical Reserve Corps Launches Emergency Preparedness Tips Series on the 2/22/06 "Lisa Tolliver Show"

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY - The Westchester Emergency Volunteer Reserves - Medical Reserve Corps (WEVR-MRC) and WEVR-trainee, Lisa Tolliver, have teamed up to broadcast regular Emergency Preparedness Tips. Emergency Preparedness Tip #1 - "Develop an Emergency Plan," aired February 22, 2006 on "The Lisa Tolliver Show" on New York Radio WVOX AM 1460 and www.wvox.com.

WEVR-MRC's advice for developing an effective escape plan was especially timely (read the details below), since the African American History Month segment on which it aired featured a tour of the Underground Railroad: the network of supporters and secret routes the helped runaway slaves escape slavery in the American South. Hear future safety tips on "Lisa Tolliver Show" every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 1:30-2:00 pm, Eastern Time. The show's "four-eyed" mission is to inform, instruct, intrigue and inspire listeners about what's happening in the world of non-profits and current affairs.

For information on how you can join the Westchester Emergency Volunteer Reserves - Medical Reserve Corps, contact The Volunteer Center at 866-VOL-CALL or visit www.volunteer-center.org/ or westchestergov.com. To read about the January 25, 2006 "Lisa Tolliver Show" featuring WEVR-MRC, click here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lisa Tolliver tours the history of small business, slaves and the Underground Railroad on "SCORE Radio" and "The Lisa Tolliver Show" (Feb. 22, 2006)

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY - Steal away for an hour to enjoy Part II of my on air African American History Month celebration on New York radio WVOX at AM 1460 and www.wvox.com . Today's special broadcast will span the time slots reserved for SCORE: Counselors to America's Small Business (at 1:00-1:30, Eastern Time) and The Lisa Tolliver Show (at 1:30-2:00 pm, Eastern Time). We'll acknowledge the traders, farmers, artisans and other small businesspeople who have historically been the backbone of the American economy, the roles of slaves and free blacks in those arenas, and take a tour on the History Channel's "Underground Railroad DVD". (Click the link to read my February 16 blog article: "Prerequisite stopover during African American History Month: The Underground Railroad. All aboard! "). We'll also launch the Emergency Safety Tips series provided by the Westchester Emergency Volunteer Reserves-Medical Reserve Corps (WEVR-MRC), wish a hearty happy birthday to my Aunt Mary Ware (who at age 105 is the richest source of African American history in my family), and share some oral history about our Cousin Fannie, who was a slave in Virginia.

SCORE Radio: Counselors to America's Small Business airs every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 1:00-1:30 pm, Eastern Time on WVOX and www.wvox.com. It is sponsored by Whitney Radio and SCORE Chapter 306. Phone SCORE at 914 948 3907. Visit SCORE at 120 Bloomingdale Road, White Plains, NY 10601 or at www.score.org. To access my SCORE profile, click here.

The Lisa Tolliver Show airs every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 1:30-2:00 pm, Eastern Time on WVOX and www.wvox.com. It is sponsored by Whitney Radio and 360 MERIDIAN. Phone Lisa Tolliver at 309 279 7528 or visit www.lisatolliver.com.

My March 8 and March 22, 2006 broadcasts on The Lisa Tolliver Show will celebrate Harriet Tubman Day (which is March 10) and Women's History Month.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Prerequisite stopover during African American History Month: The Underground Railroad. All aboard!

Image attribution: "Bury Me in a Free Land": The Abolitionist Movement in Indiana, 1816-1865, Indiana Historical Bureau. Accessed February 19, 2006 at www.statelib.lib.in.us/www/ihb/ugrr/buryme2.html.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY - Countless sites and routes comprised it (click the respective links to access those of Harriet Tubman and another traced by Andy Cohen). Untold numbers of "passengers"*, stationmasters and conductors ** traveled and maintained it. Yet the Underground Railroad (also known as the "freedom train," or "gospel train") was not a particular place, vehicle or organization. Rather, the term refers to the loosely constructed, secret network of escape routes and supporters that helped intrepid African Americans to flee bondage in America. Their destination: freedom, a.k.a. the "promised land" or "heaven." (Click here for details about the Underground Railroad. Click here to read about the etymology (i.e., origin) of the term.)

"Before I'll be a slave I'll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free." (lyrics to song known alternately as "O Canaan" and "Oh, Freedom") (audio)
Participation in the Underground Railroad (the "first Civil Rights movement") was perilous for both escapees. and those who helped them. The freedom-seekers and their pilots often traveled on foot and with very little supplies through swamps, bayous, forests, and waterways, braving the natural hazards posed by wildlife and the environment. Slave catchers, their hunting dogs and reward-seekers also posed constant threats, even in the freed states. Moreover, escaping slavery was a crime and those who were caught faced severe penalties (as depicted in a 1759 Runaway Slave Ad and dramatized by Alex Haley in Roots: The Saga of An American Family). Even freed African Americans were enslaved on the slightest pretext and unscrupulous traders often kidnapped freedmen and sold them south into bondage.

"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (lyrics and music to Harriet Tubman's favorite song):

Those caught breaking the law by abetting the "fugitives" also took great risks; if caught, they could be severely fined, imprisoned, lynched and--if black--sold into slavery. However, participants in the Underground Railroad heroically risked the odds. Patrick Henry's famous Revolutionary War cry on March 23, 1775, "Give me liberty or give me death!"--although expressed in far different circumstances--closely paralleled the lyrics to "Oh, Freedom" (a.k.a., "O Canaan"), a song sung by those who braved substantial perils to involve themselves with the Underground Railroad ("Before I'll be a slave I'll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free").

"I always tole God, I'm gwine to hold stiddy on to you an' you've got to see me trou (through)." - Harriet Tubman to fugitives.

Only a small percentage of slaves braved a "passage" on the Underground Railroad. And although those intrepid souls who did shared a common goal, their points of disembarkation varied widely. As the National Park Service explains at "Learn About the Underground Railroad," common destinations were free African American communities in the South, to the North and out west. Other escapees fled the USA entirely, settling in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and other foreign countries. The maritime industry and military service (from the colonial era to the Civil War) provided other popular avenues to freedom.

Steal Away (music), (lyrics):

Certain code words, secret gestures, stories, symbols and songs were employed as communications and guiding devices for escapees and Underground Railroad supporters. Click on the following links to learn the significance of lanterns, to read, "The Underground Railroad in Action: Communication and Codes," and to learn about other secret symbols. Click the following link to read the lyrics of some code songs. And click on the respective titles to hear code songs such as "Steal Away," "Free at Last, "Oh Freedom" (a.k.a., "O Canaan"), and "Wade in the Water"*** and to access other songs of that era via the Websites: Kentucky's Underground Railroad: Passage to Freedom, Timely Tunes, Voices Across Time and Coco Jams: African American Civil Rights (Freedom) Songs.

"Wade in the Water" (music):

It is impossible to document all of the facts and fates of those who with ties to the Underground Railroad. By necessity, the many details about the escape routes, identities of sympathizers and protectors, and "itineraries" of escapees seeking safe passage were cloaked in secrecy. Moreover, the informal support network spanned a broad spectrum. It included individuals and organizations representing many ethnicities, religions and socio-economic strata, and frequently relied upon those who provided ongoing protection and support as well as upon situational angels who provided spontaneous assistance.

"Roll, Jordan Roll" (music) - the title of a song that symbolized the border between slave states and freedom states:

Nonetheless, oral histories and documents have helped researchers to document some of the routes, sites, people and experiences that comprise the history of the Underground Railroad. Some of the heroes tied to this history include escaped slaves (e.g., Henry Bibb, Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman), Native Americans, members of such religious groups as the Quakers, Methodists, and Baptists. and outspoken abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, Mary Ann Shadd and William Still.

There is a wealth of resources about the Underground Railroad. Among them are several extremely informative Websites, including:

Excellent resources about the slavery throughout the world and throughout history are available at the UNESCO Culture Sector site, 2004: The International Year to Commemorate the Struggle Against Slavery and its Abolition.
FYI, the acceptance of 360 MERIDIAN as a National Parks Service Network to Freedom Partner will support our "four-eyed" mission to inform, instruct, intrigue and inspire audiences, in this case on the subject of African American history and the Underground Railroad.
* Supporters often referred to passengers on the Underground Railroad using code words such as: "baggage," "bundles of wood," "cargo," "dry goods" (female freedom seekers), "freight," "hardware" (male freedom seekers), and "parcels," according to Owen Sound's Black History Glossary. In contrast, those who supported slavery referred to freedom-seekers as "fugitives."
** Supporters of the underground railroad were often referred to using the code words: "agents," "conductors," “a friend with friends," "guides," "pilots," "preachers," "safe house keepers," "shepherds," "speakers," and "station masters," according to Owen Sound's Black History Glossary and Underground Railroad: American Civil War History.
*** The "Wade in the Water" audio file link on this site is provided by Kim and Reggie Harris' CD entitled, Steal Away: Songs from the Underground Railroad).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On the February 8, 2006 "Lisa Tolliver Show," playwright Raymond Aydelott helps celebrate African American History Month and Valentine's Day

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY - February is African American History month (click here for AAHM resources). I believe that any well-rounded AAHM celebration should address accomplishments and struggle, family and church, love and art. Of course, foodways are important elements in African American culture, too. Alas, covering that base would have thrown today's 30 minute show into overtime, but my guest and old friend, Raymond Aydelott, and I covered all of the other bases. We also touched home on another February celebration: Valentine's Day (click here for V-Day resources).

Ray is an African American playwright and master storyteller. In today's show, he shared excerpts from his latest work-in-progress, "Pastor Mobile's Ticket Booth." Whenever Ray reads from that script, I wipe tears of laughter. The comedic plot centers around a church whose streetwise minister introduces a $2.50 admission fee. The reactions of the cast of colorful characters and ensuing scenes are vividly entertaining. Ray has other projects in various stages of development, including "The Janitor's Closet," a serious drama that we'll discuss in an upcoming broadcast. Stay tuned.

Ray's a personable, hardworking guy whose GQ exterior houses a prolific writer and entertainer. His chocolate brown good looks make him an ideal model for a Valentine's Day Card. As he shared on air, Ray's credits include acting, bodybuilding and fashion modeling. His talent and passion for writing have garnered moral support and referrals from long-term friends Rico Drayton, a.ka. "Flava Flav" ("Yeeeaaaaaaaahhhhhhh Boyyyy!!!!!! Hah hah! That's right), and "The King of Nostalgia," a.k.a., "The Wizard of Was," nee Joe Franklin. That's led to audiences with luminaries such as Magic Johnson. The outcome: Ray's collaborated on various projects and been asked to customize scripts and concepts for particular stars.

Impressive, indeed. But serious artists need time to write and funding to move their own productions, as it puts it, "out of the darkness" (of the writer's imagination) and "into the light" (of stage and screen). That process takes longer for writers like Ray, whose goal is to create quality, family entertainment, rather than for "streakers" (who churn out, for a quick buck, shallow or profane products that pimp street culture). Consequently, Ray’s kept his day jobs while seeking actors, investors and others with a genuine passion for theater and film to participate in his productions. For talented professionals who truly love the craft, he believes the money will follow. So do I. Interested? Contact Ray via the 360 MERIDIAN message center at (01) 309.279.7528.

Audio media played during the show included:

  • The Black National Anthem: "Lift Every Voice and Sing." The clip we played on air was from A Splash of Pops / Keith Lockhart. 09026 63516-2. BMG Entertainment, 1999. (Written by: John Rosamond Johnson - James Weldon Johnson; arranged by: Charles Floyd; performed by: the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the Boston Pops Gospel Choir, and members of the Boston Men's Gay Chorus.) To listen online to an audio clip performed by Women of the Calabash, click here. To read the lyrics, click here. To listen to other audio clips online click here.
  • An aural Valentine’s Day dedication to my late father: "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." The clip we played on air was from Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Cole Porter, Disc 2. Concord Jazz CCD6-4933-2, Concord Records, Inc., 2000. (Written by: Cole Porter (C. Albert P.) for the 1938 show: “Leave it to Me”; sung by: Rosemary Clooney. At Julie Andrews.org/A Tribute to Julie Andrews, you can hear the song and read the lyrics online by clicking the appropriate links posted 3/4 of the way down the page under "Julie Andrews Hour (ABC-TV, 11 Oct 1972)," i.e., My Heart Belongs to Daddy [757KB, 1:50, Lyrics].
  • Hank Aaron, “Address to Congress,” June 18, 1974. The clip we played on air was from Great Speeches of the 20th Century, Volume 3. Rhino Word Beat, Rhino Records, Inc., 1991. To listen online at the Authentic History Center, click here.

I'll next be on air February 22, 2006. I'll be hosting "SCORE Radio: Counselors to America's Small Business" at 1:00-1:30 p.m., Eastern Time and "The Lisa Tolliver Show" at 1:30-2:00 p.m., Eastern Time. My topics: "Minorities and Business: We've Come a Long Way, Maybe," and other timely tidbits. Please join us on New York Radio WVOX AM 1460 and www.wvox.com. Listeners can also hear and share via call-in line at (01) 914.636.0110. ###

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Two Westchester County Programs ease the bite of home energy bills

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY - The War on Terror and natural disasters have hiked fuel costs to unmanageable levels for many Americans. In response,Westchester County, NY is helping local residents beat back home heating costs.

Two offerings--The CHEAP (County Home Energy Assistance ) and the HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) --can assist Westchester County residents who meet certain income guidelines. According to the Westchetser.Gov. com web page coded, "Gasoline and Katrina,"

"CHEAP - The County's Home Energy Assistance Program offers a one-time payment of $100 to eligible households that apply before March 31. A family of four with a maximum income of $53,000 would qualify. Call 995-6759 or click here for more information and a CHEAP application.

"HEAP - Residents with lower incomes may be eligible for the federal HEAP program administered by Westchester County. Residents interested in applying for HEAP can schedule an appointment to determine eligibility. Call (01) 914-995-5619 or click here for more information and a HEAP application."

The "Gasoline and K atrina" page also links to hot tips for cutting costs by conserving energy:

Readers are encouraged to contact their local and state government agencies for additional resources offering assistance with home and business energy costs. ###