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Colombia celebrates the lives of Carlos Arturo Truque and Chef Segundo Cabezas

The Fundación Color de Colombia is sponsoring a celebration of the lives of two of Colombia’s most recognized Afro Colombians: the writer Carlos Arturo Truque and the widely renowned chef, Segundo Cabezas.  homenajetruqueycabezas.jpeg

The event – which celebrates the 80th anniversary of the birth of Carlos Truque and recalls the fifth anniversary of the passing of Chef Segundo Cabezas – takes place on Saturday, November 17, 2007 at the Museo Nacional in Bogotá. 

The model-turned actress Indhira Serrano Indira_Serrano_1.jpg(who worked on the original Colombian broadcast of "Ugly Betty" which was titled, "Betty, la fea" and has a role in this year's "Love In The Time Of Cholera") will host the event.  (There is an online interview with Serrano here, it was made as she was moving from modeling to acting.)

Indhira Serrano

Truque was born in Condoto (Chocó) in 1927 and died in Buenaventura in 1970.  Known for his social realism, Truque is famous for his book of short stories La Granizada y otros cuentos (1953) and for the book El dia que termino el verano y otros cuentos, published after his death.  

Segundo Cabezas was the executive chef at world famous restaurants in Bogotá, Colombia. He also prepared his dishes for the Venezuelan and French embassies in Colombia, in the Colombian embassy in France and for the president of Colombia.  Cabezas was born in Barbacoa, Nariño on April 23, 1928.  He died in Bogotá in 2002.

4:10 pm est          Comments

Botero on the massacre in Bojayá

The Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero has donated 48 paintings to Colombia’s Museo Nacional.  Each painting shows Botero’s understanding of the ongoing political violence in his nation.

Botero’s “Muerte en la Catedral,” was inspired by the May 2, 2002 massacre of some 119 Afro Colombians in the San Pablo Apóstol church in Bojayá.  The massacre occurred when Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas accidentally dropped a homemade mortar bomb onto the church. The majority of those killed were women, along with some 50 children; 98 others were injured.

Although there had been ample warnings to the Colombian government that any attempts by the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) and the military to root out the FARC's guerrilla armies would lead to battles being waged dangerously close to where civilians live, a four-day clash between Marxis
MuerteenlaCatedral.jpgt-oriented FARC guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries - who tend to have government support in defeating the FARC - led directly to the massacre in Bojayá.

Botero’s “Muerte en la Catedral”
Photo credit: Chocó 7 días

Prior to donating his painting to the Museo National in Colombia, Botero’s paintings were featured in museums throughout Latin America. 

When they were featured in Buenos Aires at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Argentina, the artist told the Spanish news agency EFE that although he had always been against the idea of using art ideologically, like a “weapon in battle,” the magnitude of the what is happening in Colombia pretty much forced his hand. Botero felt a “moral obligation” to leave his own testimony of Colombian history, “as an artist who lived and was a part of his country and his time.”

In an interview with the online community paper Chocó 7 días, Botero explained that similar to his other 47 paintings depicting the violence in Colombia, “Muerte en la Catedral,” is meant to show the absurdity of the violence Colombians face daily.

1:53 pm est          Comments

AIDS activists protest for better funding in Puerto Rico

AIDS protesters blocked traffic in Downtown Manhattan Wednesday, November 14, 2007 by lying in the street on Broadway.


More than 100 protesters were present for a rally that demonstrated community outrage about the collapsing health care system in Puerto Rico.  Carrying Puerto Rican and United States flags as they marched from Foley Square, the activists chanted "There are lives that need saving in Puerto Rico," Humberto García writes in El Diario/La Prensa.

(Photo credit:

A dozen of the AIDS protesters laid down in the street and stopped traffic, they refused to move until police authorities arrested them and took them away. 

"A key demand of the demonstrators this week was that US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt step in to seize control of the disbursement of federal dollars now overseen by the San Juan and the Puerto Rico governments," writes Paul Schindler in the article "Acting Up on Broadway" in Gay City News. "...[T]hose two governments control about 75 percent of all US Ryan White AIDS Care Act dollars going to the island, a total of nearly $55 million."

Because the island of Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States - it is officially termed a "Commonwealth" - funds for health care are allocated from the federal government in Washington. 

"Advocates familiar with the delivery of AIDS treatment and services in Puerto Rico described a dysfunctional system plagued by government mismanagement and corruption, inadequate US government oversight of local disbursements of funds, financial strains compounded by an unusually low rate of federal contributions to the Medicaid program compared to the mainland, a painfully slow pace of reimbursements to local community-based service organizations that is starving them, and abstinence-only prevention efforts," Schindler's article notes.

He addds that "Puerto Rico is one of the centers of the US HIV epidemic. In 2005, the island was ranked tenth among all states in new AIDS cases - 1,033, nearly the pace in New York State, which leads the nation, on a relative basis - and tenth in cumulative cases - 29,092, again nearly keeping pace with New York from a per capita perspective.

"Nearly 19,000 people in Puerto Rico have died of HIV-related disease; the island's AIDS death rate is nearly three times the national average."

10:45 am est          Comments

Say No to Africom

A number of voices are crying out against the establishment of the United States’ new Africa Command (AFRICOM). 

The U.S. government has played down the establishment of its military forces in Africa, terming the fact that forces will soon be arriving there a mere “AFRICOM Presence.”  AFRICOMPresence.jpg

“The President’s intent is to have AFRICOM located on the African continent, where it can best interact with partner nations,” the military’s website claims. “U.S. officials are currently in consultation with African leaders on where and what kind of presence AFRICOM should have. No decisions have yet been made on locations, and any decisions would have the full consent and support of the host nation.”

U.S. government is promoting an “AFRICOM Presence” on the continent.

But activists in Africa and around the world are warning that the establishment of AFRICOM does not bode well for the continent, or for future actions U.S. governments might play there, knowing that they have a military presence already established. 

In an article in The Nation, Nicole C. Lee, the executive director of TransAfrica Forum and the actor/ human rights activist Danny Glover (who is also chair of TransAfrica’s board of directors) term it, “An alarming step forward in the militarization of the African continent, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) will oversee all US military and security interests throughout the region, excluding Egypt. “

Daniel Volman, the director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, D.C., writes in Pambazuka News that one reason Africom is being created now is because the “Bush administration would like to significantly expand its security assistance programs for regimes that are willing to act as surrogates, for friendly regimes — particularly in countries with abundant oil and natural gas supplies — and for efforts to increase its options for more direct military involvement in the future; but it has had difficulty getting the U.S. Congress and the Pentagon to provide the required funding or to devoting the necessary attention and energy to accomplish these tasks. The creation of AFRICOM will allow the administration to go to the U.S. Congress and argue that the establishment of AFRICOM demonstrates the importance of Africa for U.S. national security and the administration’s commitment to give the continent the attention that it deserves.”

While Professor Amii Omara-Otunnu writes in his Black Star News column that “African elites who support the U.S. military efforts to establish AFRICOM in the continent…are either woefully ignorant of the implications of the establishment of AFRICOM or do not care much about the welfare of African people except their own parochial interests and survival in power.

“In the final analysis,” notes Omara-Otunnu, who is the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights, Executive-Director of the UConn-ANC Partnership and Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, “a win-win policy for both the U.S and Africa should not be predicated on a scheme to establish AFRICOM; rather, the U. S. should pressure African rulers to discard militarism and embrace the ideals and values of democratic pluralism and human rights.”

7:26 pm est          Comments

 Recovering the lost cuisines of Cuba

Culinary historian Maricel E. Presilla has written an article for the McClatchy News Service that describes the tastes, flavors and smells of what is essentially an African inspired Cuban cuisine of Oriente, Cuba.

Presilla, the chef/co-owner of Cucharamama and Zafra in Hoboken, New Jersey, writes in Recovering the lost cuisines of Cuba that "For Cubans, rice is a blank canvas for the imagination. My father's favorites are arroz prensado (pressed rice), a layered rice casserole cooked in beef broth with grated Gouda cheese, and arroz con quimbombó (rice cooked with okra)."  Readers will note that quimbombó is an African word for okra; similar to quingombó, ají turco, gumbo, and gombo.

Presilla also ends the article with a recipe for Malanga Fufu with Sesame Sofrito (Fufu de Malanga Criollo on Sofrito de Ajonjoli).  Fufú is a traditional Afro-Cuban mash.

12:17 pm est          Comments

Value of African American memorabilia on the rise

By Karen Juanita Carrillo

The importance of collecting African American books and memorabilia was once again spotlighted foMaymeClayton.jpgllowing the October 2006 passing of Dr. Mayme Agnew Clayton.

Dr. Mayme Agnew Clayton

Dr. Agnew Clayton's forty years of painstaking collecting and storing of more than 30,000 rare and out-of-print books, films, photographs, music, and other memorabilia - all while she worked as a librarian at the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - led to the creation of the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum (MCLM).

10:30 am est          Comments

Shanelle Jackson and youthful reps defend Detroit in State House

A story in The Michigan Citizen profiles Shanelle Jackson, Michigan's State Representative for the 9th House District. 

Elected at the tender age of 26, Jackson is "the youngest woman of color ever to serve in the Michigan legislature" the article reports:

"According to Jackson, she was able to identify the cause and effect of city politics at an early age.

'Even as a child, I recognized very early that it wasn't pretty in my city, where I lived,' Jackson remembers. But that perception didn't cloud her vision. Shanelle_Jackon.jpg'I learned very early, too, that it doesn't have to be this way and all of this is affected through a process.'

Michigan State Representative Shanelle Jackson 

By age 14, Jackson was refining her sense of civic duty and responsibility by volunteering for local political campaigns and participating in the Girl Scouts. She would also occasionally help an Uncle who was involved with a UAW local at Chrysler drop and deliver union literature.

11:15 am est          Comments

Los Angeles Blacks maintain political strength with coalitions

An opinion piece in the November 11, 2007 edition of the Los Angeles Times, details an important reason why African American political strength has not waned in the second-largest city in the United States of America. 

For some 150 years, writes Susan Anderson, a former visiting professor at Pitzer College and current managing director of "LA as Subject" (an association of archives and collections hosted by USC Libraries) in the piece entitled "African-American clout isn't going anywhere," African Americans have used their civic and political activism to form important coalitions. 

LA based Blacks have worked with other groups who have similar interests, and stayed true to their commitments of fighting for their own interests:  from ending slavery (as far back as 1856), to fighting for fair housing, against police brutality and for social justice today.

9:49 pm est          Comments

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In partnership with:
LUNDU Center for Afro-Peruvian Advancement 



By Lisa Scott


Interviews with over 30 Jamaican immigrants on their pre-migratory perceptions of New York and England

 Click here to view and purchase the book.



by Miriam Jimenéz Román  (Editor), Juan Flores (Editor) 


The book focuses attention on a large, vibrant, yet oddly invisible community in the United States: people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean. The presence of Afro-Latin@s in the United States (and throughout the Americas) belies the notion that Blacks and Latin@s are two distinct categories or cultures. Afro-Latin@s are uniquely situated to bridge the widening social divide between Latin@s and African Americans. At the same time, their experiences reveal pervasive racism among Latin@s and ethnocentrism among African Americans. Offering insight into Afro-Latin@ life and new ways to understand culture, ethnicity, nation, identity, and antiracist politics, The Afro-Latin@ Reader presents a kaleidoscopic view of Black Latin@s in the United States. It addresses history, music, gender, class, and media representations in more than sixty selections, including scholarly essays, memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, short stories, and interviews.

 Click here to view and purchase the book.



By Karen Juanita Carrillo



The proof of any group's importance to history is in the detail, a fact made plain by this informative book's day-by-day documentation of the impact of African Americans on life in the United States.  One of the easiest ways to grasp any aspect of history is to look at it as a continuum. African American History Day by Day: A Reference Guide to Events provides just such an opportunity.

 Click here to view and purchase the book.



by Karen Juanita Carrillo


The View from Chocó: The Afro-Colombian past, their lives in the present, and their hopes for the future is an introduction to the lives of Blacks in Colombia. Afro-Colombians live in a resource-rich yet remote region of Colombia. They only recently won recognition as one of that nation's distinct ethnic groups. But Colombia's on-going civil war has led many Afro-Colombians to reach even farther than their nation's borders for recognition: many have made their way to the United States as refugees and as political activists working for peace in their homeland. The View from Chocó introduces the lives and struggles of a too-long neglected community of Colombian Blacks. 

 Click here to view and purchase the book.





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