Archives Reveal Family History

Archives Reveal Family History
Paternal Geat-grand Parents, Mittie and Jacob Smith

Friday, April 30, 2010

Take the A Train - Still Rollin' Up to Harlem

"Take the A Train" is identified with Harlem perhaps as much as any iconic song. After 70 years it has been interpreted in countless motifs and arrangements. I live within 100 paces of NY City's most famous subway line. Locals used to say the "A" stood for "African Express" because by the time the train reached 96th Street from 42nd Street in Times Square, ALL the "white folk" had de-trained. Given the city's residentially segregated housing patterns, the cars were filled with blacks and Puerto Ricans heading uptown to Harlem. Not any longer. Blacks are no longer in the majority in Harlem, which is now one of the most diverse communities in the nation. I love Harlem! You'll love this timeless rendition of 'Take the A Train."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Michael G. Davis Leaves Rich Cultural Legacy

Mike Davis was a friend and my homeboy.I sadly learned of his death only yesterday, April 15 from a mutual friend.Mike passed December 6,,2009 in New York City.Michael G. Davis Sr. was one of the most gifted individuals I have ever met. He singlehandedly organized The Harlem Preservation Jazz band, a "toe tapping” big band favorite in Harlem's Clubs and soir√©es. Mike was a dedicated educator and teacher in NYC public schools until he suffered a near debilitating stroke. A talented athlete, Mike was streetwise, savvy and academically prepared to meet the challenges in New York City's toughest neighborhoods and classrooms, which he did with great effectiveness. Trained as a graphic artist, illustrator, his artwork and talent as a young artist/illustrator were employed by major television networks including CBS, NBC's Today Show and Johnson Publishing company's flag ship publication, Ebony magazine. I last spoke with Mike on Thanksgiving Day, 2009. We had vowed that 2010 would be a special year in which he and I would present a unique jazz showcase together. Michael G. Davis' was laid to rest in his hometown Gary, Indiana December 19, 2010.Michael G. Davis left a rich cultural legacy that will long be remembered. RIP

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Obama's Historic Nuclear Pact with Russia

Today US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev laid a historic cornerstone at Prague Castle by signing a major nuclear arms control agreement. Humanity has taken a much-needed significant good-faith step toward safeguarding our world from nuclear catastrophe and promoting world peace. President Obama is to be commended for exhibiting the rare moral courage, bold political leadership, and sure-footed diplomacy needed to seal the deal. As astronaut Neil Armstrong reminded us from the distant moon back in 1968 of how humanity's positive movement one step at a time can lead us toward reaching the most unimaginable destinations when he said, "One small step for man; one giant step for mankind." Obama’s 2010 “shuttle diplomacy” has succeeded at least by ensuring that future generations the world over may be more inclined to “give peace a chance" and to, as the traditional Spiritual intones, "study war no more." May God bless you for your vision of peace among the nations, Mr. President. For "without a vision,” it is said, “the people perish.”

D-Day Media Group (c)
(Warning: Video images in the link depict perils of war)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dr.James A.Forbes Delivers Easter Tribute Sermon at The Riverside Church

Easter 2010 I attended a glorious Easter Sunday Service replete with mass choir, brass, and timpani, and heard a masterful sermon preached by Dr. James A. Forbes, Pastor Emeritus of the Riverside Church in Harlem’s Morningside Heights neighborhood. Dr. Forbes’ sermon title was, “When the Spirit of Life Fills the Temple.” The Reverend Forbes was voted by Time Magazine as one of the ten most effective preachers in the English language. His erudition is respected internationally. Dr. Forbes occasionally draws on folksy expressions and allegories, interspersed with original songs and urban rhymes steeped in his southern Pentecostal upbringing. This style makes him equally at ease in front of lecterns at Harvard, Yale, and Oxford, where he has lectured on the art of preaching, or at a store-front church in Watts or the Bronx. His Easter sermon, delivered 43 years to the day after Dr. Martin Luther King’s controversial anti-Viet Nam sermon also delivered at RSC, in which Dr. King critiqued racism, materialism, and militarism through the lens of the Christian Gospel. It was one of the most powerful sermons I’ve ever heard. If you listen before Sunday, April 11, you can hear the sermon at

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Soulful Sounds of Easter

For many believers, Good Friday is a time of personal reflection, introspection, and meditation; a season of renewal and shoring-up one’s spiritual foundations and plans. It’s a mystical day centered in the belief that through faith life has boundless possibilities and hope springs eternal. My musical listening choices include repertoire from Duke Ellington’s Sacred music: Meditation, Come Sunday, Praise God and Dance. Mahalia Jackson’s sonorous voice also offers sweet solace in our sunny Manhattan apartment, channeling me back to an era that seemed simpler and connecting my spirit to traditions in African American spiritual expression that are both familiar and comforting yet universal. And when Cannonball Adderly’s alto sax soulfully grooves the refrain “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” it liberates my soul. Finally, my late mother Irene Day’s heart stirring rendition of Balm in Gilead continues to inspire and fortify me and others around the world. So in your quiet time I invite you to listen to the immortal music of Good Friday and Easter.