Sunday, November 30, 2014




People don't need a reason to riot and people will always find an excuse to riot. Doesn't that sound like something George Orwell would write? Often I find myself feeling like Eric Hoffer talking about another true believer. What would have happened if a Grand Jury last week had reached a different conclusion? Would we have rushed to immediately say our system works or would we have retreated behind the headlines to wait for the next story to unfold?  How many bullets are out their waiting for Black bodies? It makes no sense to blame the police if one is not going to blame the state. And what is the state of things these days? It seems we are back to answering the old question. It's not - where do we go from here?  Instead it's - Who needs the Negro and what do Black people want?
Yesterday was the last day of mail for the month of November. It was a good one. I received a copy of Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire which is edited by poet Quincy Troupe. This beautiful publication surpasses The American Rag magazine he once edited many years ago. Troupe always does things with style and content. Inside Volume 14, Issue No. 2, Fall 2014  is the work of Colleen McElroy (who I was just exchanging emails with), Aracelis Girmay ( I met at Canto Mundo), Ishmael Reed, Tyehimba Jess, Hermine Pinson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Derek Walcott and others waiting to jam with your heart and mind. A copy of this magazine would be a good gift for the upcoming holidays.
Write to:

I'm happy to be in this issue too. Troupe published my essay "Sterling Brown and the Browning of My Life."

Talking about my life, the other piece of mail I received yesterday, was a letter informing me that I had been selected for induction into the Washington DC Hall of Fame for the year 2015. Look for me in black tie in April of next year. Many thanks and blessings to friends who touched my life and gave me a reason for living. The work continues even while loving is difficult these days.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


I'm not late. It doesn't start until I get there.

     Marion Barry

Friday, November 28, 2014


It's simply amazing how the language thing is never examined these days.
How should one interpret the "Burn This Bitch Down" comment coming out of Ferguson? Are we suddenly all in an elevator with Ray Rice? It's impossible to create a new world while embracing a vocabulary that fails to embrace any degree of moral elevation. What lies beyond our anger and rage? After the darkness of destruction will only the fires of ruin burn bright? November is ending and what was once Winter in America is suddenly turning to a December that might be hotter than July. I fear a new racial climate change and global warming. There are no more poems left for me to write. Every word is now broken in my hand.

UALE colleagues: For more than a decade, AFSCME has offered summer internships and academic scholarships to students of color through the Union Scholars Program. This year, we will expand the program with a new partner, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The program is also sponsored by the Harvard Labor and Worklife Program. The Union Scholars Program is a great way for students to get experience as frontline organizers AND earn money for college. Below is more information on the program.

Please share it with sophomore and junior students who might be interested. You can also request copies of a fabulous brochure for distribution to your students by emailing Maria Ochoa at

Applications are due on February 28, 2015 and are available online at the TMCF website:


Wednesday, November 26, 2014


There was another verdict this week that people should discuss.  A jury of coaches ( and perhaps a few players) decided that Robert Griffin III should no longer be the starting quarterback of the Washington football team. How did this young black man with so much talent go from star to failure so quickly?  How often over the years have we heard about the importance of being a pocket passer in the NFL?  RGIII was replaced this week because he couldn’t master the fundamentals; he couldn’t master his footwork or read the defenses. He held the ball too long or made the decision to run first and pass later. Every Sunday I listened to sports announcers talk about the “law & order” of the NFL. If RGIII was going to be successful he would have to change his ways.  There is nothing worse than a Black man starting to think too much because people feel he can’t think. It’s sad to define a Black man only by his physical talent and not his mental genius.  What was the system that RGIII was suppose to fit into?  If I’m not mistaken the Peyton pocket passer lost the last Super Bowl. I’m curious as to how the lives of Black men are forced into definitions and rules – and how they struggle not only to redefine themselves but to live.  If C.L.R. James was alive today he would probably be looking at the connection between our political landscape and the cultural one. If you want to know why a U.S. legal system might be biased against black boys and men simply look at how they struggle to breath when walking down the street or running across a field. They will always be stopped. They will be challenged to change their ways. A verdict will be given even if there is no crime. It’s not simply about being a pocket passer, its about the struggle not to be trapped forever inside the darkness of a pocket that belongs to the pants or jacket one might never own. 

Black men live their lives today in a contaminated moral environment.  Our ability to create, to be spontaneous, to imagine plays that have a new structure, goes against even the motion and flow of history.   The essence of blackness is linked to its fluidity – to be heard only inside –say maybe Charlie Parker’s horn. I think it was Baraka who once said that a white person could only imagine someone boxing like Ali after seeing Ali box.  How many Black boys will be forever trapped inside a nation of laws that will never understand their rage. Too often the new music we struggle to play is only recognized as noise. What happens when democracy turns a deaf ear? When the next verdict is given how many of us will lose our jobs and maybe even our lives?


Happy Thanksgiving from the Ciesla Foundation!

We have much to be thankful for this year. We appreciate all of your support as our project nears completion. We are proud to announce that we have a premiere date: The Rosenwald Schoolswill screen on February 25, 2015 as part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival, a festival that I started 25 years ago. On another date there will be a screening in conjunction with Howard University, that was supported by Julius Rosenwald.  

There are many tasks to accomplish before that date. We are still doing the final editing, finding the best music selects and a few more stills, auditioning for a great composer and making arrangements for the sound mix, color corrections and online edit.

Of course we are also fundraising to raise the funds to cover these costs. Wonderful friends are hosting fundraising parties or suggesting sources of funding. It takes a village to finish a film.  All contributions and suggestions are welcome.

In addition, we are applying to other festivals, making arrangements for distribution and publicity and talking to other organizations to work with us to join in on screenings. 

So no rest here at Ciesla.

As always, please find our latest blog posts below.


Aviva Kempner
The Ciesla Foundation
5005 Linnean Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Will Spoken Word Get You Killed?

I just read the account of what happened between Brown and Wilson.
Did a Black man lose his life because of the language thing?
Was this about manhood and the battle over a gun?
What does it mean for a Black man to call a white police officer- a pussy?
I know this isn't Russia but do we now have a new meaning for the term Pussy Riot?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Much laughter this morning with Amy Riolo and Andy Shallal.  They are two people who know the power of food.

Yes, that was me today munching on the egg wrap.What's a poet to do?

Here is a link to Riolo's

Amy and I will be on Andy's radio show BUSINESS MATTERS  (WPFW-89.3)on December 22nd at 9AM.


Today I stopped by the Hamiltonian Gallery on U Street. It was wonderful to meet the lovely and dynamic Angie Goerner again. She is the Program & Development Director. Fellows Converge is the exhibit that's up right now until December 20th. It's curated by Klaus Ottmann, the Director of the Center for the Study of Modern Art and Curator at Large at The Phillips Collection. There is work here inspired by Haruki Murakami,  "The Ice Man."

"I'm not interested in
the future at all. To
speak more precisely
I have no concept of
the future. Ice has no
future. It just captures
the past."

In the picture I am in the third row, one of three black faces.
The newspaper lists my name and age.
I find comfort knowing everyone is younger than me.
I am among the 25 shot and killed.
I am not among the wounded or the broken.
My eyes are now filled with dusk.
It was the bullet entering my head from behind that whispered to me.
The shooter found me hiding under a table.
It’s what adults did when the only fear came from Russia.
Every teacher told us to turn our eyes away from the windows.
The second bullet reminds me of Nagasaki.
It blinds my life into darkness.
I sleep hearing only Japanese.

-        E. Ethelbert Miller

I started writing this poem back in October 2013.


Monday, November 24, 2014



A note from Jeff Rathermel,
MCBA Executive Director:

Dear friends,

It is with deep sadness that I share the news of Allan Kornblum’s passing on Sunday. A leading light in the literary community, Allan built his world, and ours, around the penned and printed word. His joy of literature, his skill at the press, and his passion for writers and readers was unmatched. I do not have the words to express my gratitude, nor the true impact, of Allan’s legacy.

Allan has been part of Minnesota Center for Book Arts’ story since the very beginning. He was MCBA’s first printer-in-residence, moving his Toothpaste Press to the Twin Cities from Iowa City in the early 1980s, and rechristening it Coffee House Press. Allan continued to be a close friend and collaborator with MCBA throughout the years, and our staff, board, and artist community have many wonderful memories of him. I’d like to share just a few:
From Betty Bright, MCBA founding curator:

“I picture him in conversation, always. Every new encounter over books and printing made an impact on that visitor. He embodied MCBA’s spirit of generosity and welcome, a spirit that continues today. Allan leaves behind a legacy of love for the written word, a respect for craft in bookmaking, and a readiness to engage in a mutual discovery of each book’s treasures. He will be deeply missed by all who love literature, books and the book arts.”

From MCBA Board Chair Peggy Korsmo-Kennon:

“Allan was an activist for those who write and create books. His career demonstrates a passion for finding writers who can show us something new in this world, and he had the ability to design beautiful transcending volumes that carry the writer to the reader. Allan cared deeply about the book community in Minnesota. There was a constant thread throughout his career as a ‘gatherer’ and ‘engager’ of book people, be they writers, readers, book artists, designers, or other local and national presses.”

From Kent Aldrich, proprietor and letterpress printer at The Nomadic Press:

“Allan Kornblum was the man who taught me how to be a letterpress printer. Not simply how to set type and operate a printing press, but how to live a purposeful life of intent and integrity. He taught me how to pay attention to the details so that the whole appears effortless. He showed me how to move through the world joyfully, and although, in these ways he will walk beside me every day, still I will miss him.”

Thank you, Allan. 

On behalf of our staff, board, and artist community: our thoughts are with your family, your wonderful team at Coffee House Press, and everyone you touched through your work. We are better for knowing you. We are grateful for it.

Monday morning at 10:00, as part of This Day in History, award-winning poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller joins us to honor and remember former D.C. Mayor and civil rights icon Marion Barry, who died this weekend. Miller is on the Board of the Institute for Policy Studies, Director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University, and former chair of the D.C. Humanities Council.
Then at 10:15 we host a National News Roundup, with topics to include President Obama's speech last week and executive actions on immigration policy, and the pending Grand Jury verdict in Ferguson, Missouri. With: Dr. Richard Vatz, Professor of Rhetoric and Communication at Towson University's Department of Instructional Leadership and Professional Development; Imara Jones, Host of CaffeineTV, an online daily news brief, and Economic Justice contributor for; and Michelle Chen, Contributing Editor at In These Times, Associate Editor at CultureStrike, and co-producer of "Asia Pacific Forum" on Pacifica's WBAI and Dissent Magazine's "Belabored" podcast.
At 11:00 we spend the second hour in a State News Roundup, including a discussion around Governor-Elect Hogan's transition and upcoming administration. With: Greg Klineattorney, co-founder and Contributing Editor for Red Maryland, who hosts the Conservative Refugee podcast and co-hosts Red Maryland Radio; former Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Delegate Heather Mizeur (District 20 Montgomery County); former Democratic Candidate for Attorney General Delegate Aisha Braveboy (District 25 Prince George's County); and Josh Kurtz, blogger at and Editor of Environment & Energy Daily. 
Email or post on the The Marc Steiner Show Facebook page 
with your questions and comments! 
Listen from 10am - noon on WEAA 88.9-FM or online at weaa.orgAll shows are available as podcasts at and on iTunes. 

Join the conversation by calling 410-319-8888, tweeting @marcsteiner, and For questions & show ideas call: (443) 475-0554.

Sunday, November 23, 2014



As a biographer of Marion Barry, what do you feel is important for future generations to remember about him?

The future generations need to remember EVERYTHING about Marion Barry Jr. We live in an era where far too many people are only interested in sensationalized sound bites, which is what Barry discusses in the very first paragraph of his book. So it does him a tremendous disservice not to know as much as you possibly can about all of him by simply finding a few days to a week to read his book -- Mayor For Life.


I hope to interview Dana Flor this week.
Here is a link to her important film on Marion Barry.


At times he was bigger than life. We will have to acknowledge his importance when we study the Civil Rights Movement and the history of Washington,D.C.  What we will remember about this man will depend on who we are. He was not mayor for life but simply a man who made mistakes but still tried to do some good for his fellow human being. Marion Barry loved people. At times being mayor of a city or sitting on a city council can be as difficult as being president. May we honor this man for what he did - for his vision during dark times. May we get over all the BS, the drugs, the women that were not his wives. May we say at this time of seasons changing once again that Marion Barry was our spring. A man who tried to bring a little warmth to so many left out in the cold. May he rest in peace and may we remember what we still need to do.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Introduction to the work of Carolyn Supinka


I keep telling Michon (Boston) that we should start our own news agency. Maybe simply combine Eclectique with E-Notes. What would e.e. cummings think about that?  Well if you want to know what's going on in the world or what's happening to black people addicted to race porn - simply ask Michon and Ethelbert or better yet - JUST ASK ME.

Hey Man - Did you know the Hawk is blowing?

PAUL BEATTY IS BACK! New novel out in March 2015.

Praise for The Sellout:

“Beatty, author of the deservedly highly praised The White Boy Shuffle (1996), here outdoes himself and possibly everybody else in a send-up of race, popular culture, and politics in today’s America . . . Beatty hits on all cylinders in a darkly funny, dead-on-target, elegantly written satire . . . [The Sellout] is frequently laugh-out-loud funny and, in the way of the great ones, profoundly thought provoking. A major contribution.”
—Mark Levine, Booklist (starred review)

“Beatty creates a wicked satire that pokes fun at all that is sacred to life in the United States . . . His story is full of the unexpected, resulting in absurd and hilarious drama.”
Library Journal

The Sellout is brilliant. Amazing. Like demented angels wrote it.”
—Sarah Silverman

“I am glad that I read this insane book alone, with no one watching, because I fell apart with envy, hysterics, and flat-out awe. Is there a more fiercely brilliant and scathingly hilarious American novelist than Paul Beatty?”
—Ben Marcus

“Paul Beatty has always been one of smartest, funniest, gutsiest writers in America, but The Sellout sets a new standard. It’s a spectacular explosion of comic daring, cultural provocation, brilliant, hilarious prose, and genuine heart.”
—Sam Lipsyte

About The Sellout:

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.

Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Selloutresigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

About Paul Beatty:

Paul Beatty is the author of three novels—Slumberland, Tuff, and The White Boy Shuffle—and two books of poetry:Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.

Friday, November 21, 2014

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November 21, 2014
Washington, DC Foundation Center News | Foundation Center
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Proposal Writing Workshop

THU, December 11, 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Using group exercises, case studies, and your own proposal outline, the Proposal Writing Workshop will help you understand the components of a competitive grant proposal, discover what grantmakers consider "red flags," and learn how to cultivate potential institutional donors.
Live Webinar

Are You Maximizing Your Revenue?
TUE, December 9, 2:00-3:30 PM ET  |  $95

It's the time of year when many nonprofits are engaged in budgeting and financial forecasting. Your organization may be gearing up for a strategic planning process, or you may be implementing plans to grow or diversify your organization's revenue to support short-term needs and long-term sustainability. Read Nancy Osgood's blog post to get into the "maximizing revenue mindset," then attend our live webinar on December 9, Building Your Bottom Line: Growing and Diversifying Your Revenue. You will leave with a few planning tools, including a "Revenue Inventory." Register 

How to Create a Mid-Level Donor Program
SPECIAL GUEST: Emma Kieran, Senior Consultant, Orr Associates, Inc.
WED, December 3, 10:00-11:30 AM  |  FREE

Do you have a direct mail program and a major gifts program, but lack a clear plan for the donors in between? This session will help you develop your mid-level donors and access the money left on the table by your most dedicated supporters. Register 
New Report

Scanning the Landscape of Youth Philanthropy

Scanning the Landscape of Youth Philanthropy: Observations and Recommendations for Strengthening a Growing Field shares reflections on an in-depth examination of youth grantmaking. The report finds that while more than 200 foundations worldwide offer such programs and more than 100 related resources exist, that information is not broadly available. Recommendations include providing wider access to youth philanthropy programs, centralizing resources, and increasing in-person gatherings. Download the report 
Are You a Federal Employee? Do You Know One?

So many charities. So many choices. Choose us!

We hope you will consider supporting Foundation Center (#61710) during the 2014 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). And, urge your family and friends in federal agencies to do the same! By designating part of your CFC donation to Foundation Center, Washington, DC, you can broaden the impact of your gift. Representatives of hundreds of charities from around the region use our free resources to learn important fundraising and management skills. Support Foundation Center in Washington, DC 


Proposal Writing Workshop
THU, December 11   $295 per person


Grantseeking Basics for International Organizations
FRI, Dec 5  11:00 am-12:30 pm
Grantseeking Basics 
WED, Dec 10  10:30 am-12:00 pm
Introduction to Finding Funders 
WED, Dec 10  12:15-1:15 pm
Introduction to Fundraising Planning 
FRI, Dec 12  10:30-11:45 am
How to Approach a Foundation
FRI, Dec 12  12:00-1:15 pm
Proposal Writing Basics 
MON, Dec 15  10:00-11:30 am
Proposal Budgeting Basics 
MON, Dec 15  11:45 am-1:00 pm
Introduction to Corporate Giving 
WED, Dec 17  11:45 am-1:15 pm 
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New on Our Blog


Taking Stock of Your Nonprofit’s Revenue Potential


15 FDO Tips for 15 Years, Part 1


Handling the Ice Bucket Challenge!

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