Tagged Tanya D Dennis

“Out. The Glenn Burke Story”

By Tanya Dennis


Glenn Burke

Billy Bean

Glenn Burke’s journey through baseball began and ended in Oakland, California.

 His sports career had many stops along the way, starting as a multi-sport star at Berkeley High School, followed by a brief stint at the University of Nevada, Reno as a prized basketball recruit, and then moving into professional baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers, being hailed by one coach as “the next Willie Mays.”  

Early in his career, Burke felt he had to hide his true self from his teammates.

Later, when he began to reveal glimpses into his sexuality the baseball establishment began to close him out. 

 “Out. The Glenn Burke Story,” a one-hour commercial-free program that documents Burke’s legacy as the first openly homosexual Major League Baseball player, will premiere on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. Read more

C’est La Vie Social Club Turns 60

By Tanya 


C’est La Vie men (l to r): Fred Perry M.D., Allan Taylor, Percy Williams, Curtis Perry D.D.S, Dr. Anderson, Crayton Bennett M.D., Lawrence Wilderson; Back row: Preston Callins, Arthur Mills, Benjamin Dennis ,Joe Taylor.

Sixty years of “fun, laughter and sisterly love.” was celebrated Oct. 30 by the C’est La Vie Social Club, one of the oldest African-American social clubs in the Bay Area.  

They celebrated by hosting an elegant luncheon at the Sequoyah Country Club in the Oakland Hills. The room decor in cream and gold with delicate accents of lavender matched the ladies in their cream and gold attire.  

Father Jay Matthews was Master of Ceremonies and introduced singer Sydney Ragland, who sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and “A Change is Gonna Come.” Ricardo Scales and John Handy also entertained the nearly 100 guests in attendance.

Vice-President Lottie Jackson gave a vivid history of the organization’s 60 years, noting that “The C’est La Vie Club quickly transitioned from a social club having fun and entertainment, to a club that is socially, civically and politically involved.” Read more

MAP Conference, “A Gathering of Black Men”

By Tanya Dennis

Dr. Wise Allen,


MAP Director Carlos McLean


The Maximum Achievement Project, MAP, held a conference at Merritt College recently, marking the second year of the organization’s efforts to promote the educational success of local African American males through mentoring, tutorials, social interaction and financial assistance.

At the Oct. 23 event, educators, students and MAP participants discussed how this innovative project, launched through a federal grant, is making a dramatic difference. 

One indication is that participants’ grade-point averages have risen from 1.6 to 2.4. 

The program has also received national recognition, including a visit from Secretary of State Arne Duncan, who visited recently. MAP representatives also spoke recently at the Congressional Black Caucus.  Growing in strength, the organization has now formed partnership with Oakland and Emeryville School District, working to start the support for Black men at an earlier age. Read more

Mahogany Hair Revolution

By Tanya Dennis

Dr. Kari Williams with one of her customers.

Cornrows, braids, locks and twists – Dr. Kari Williams, trichologist, is chief creator and designer of Mahogany Hair Revolution, currently located in Los Angeles.

Dr. Kari, a UC Berkeley graduate in mass communications and advertising, gained her doctorate in Trichology –the scientific study of hair and scalp disorders – at the Elan Center for Trichology in Alabama, a four-year program where she studied everything from anatomy to nutrition.

“The most common type of hair loss is Alopecia. African-Americans suffer from traction Alopecia, which is the result of hair weaves, or braids that are pulled too tight as well as ponytails and chemicals that weaken or destroy the hair,” she said. “ Other hair loss factors are hereditary, male pattern baldness and a phenomena call Telogen Effluvium, a temporary loss of hair that women experience after giving birth.”

Dr. Kari has two salons. At Mahogany Hair Revolution the focus is on styling hair without extreme forms of heat, no flat irons or pressing combs.  Her stylists use a blow dryer and then sparingly to maintain the integrity of the hair.   Her other establishment, Mahogany 2, is a full service salon, but its focus is to keep the hair healthy and promote growth.

Not interested at this point in starting her own product line, she said, “I’m not sure I want to jump into the product market – there are so many good products out there. I simply inform people what to avoid: Sulfates dry the hair; petroleum or mineral oil that attracts dirt and debris to the hair.” Read more

Gala Celebration Honors Founders of Lorraine Hansberry Theater

By Tanya Dennis

Left to right: Ted Lange, Valerie Coleman, Jerri Lange, Michael Lange and John Wesley.

Quentin Easter, Executive Director, and Stanley E. Williams, Artistic Director, were co-founders of the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, which for the past 30 years were the bright lights of African-American drama in San Francisco.
Easter died after a short illness in April, and  Williams, his partner, followed a scant three months later.  The two lights that had lit the Lorraine Hansberry stage were extinguished.  On Saturday, Oct. 16, their lights merged into one at the St Francis Westin, “BRAVO, Thirty-Years” fund-raising gala, hosted to keep their beloved and beleaguered theater open.
Former KRON reporter and anchor at KGO and CNN Valerie Coleman Morris, author of a new book “Mind Over Money Matters,” emceed the gala affair. Attendees were treated to a step-show by Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity – CSU East Bay and Les Bantu, an African Dance company.  Actors Glen Turman and John Wesley shared their experiences and involvement with African American theater and how it created an intricate thread forever woven into the American theater experience. Read more

Oakland Enterprise Zones, Where Are They?

By Tanya

Jean Quan

Greg Harland

Why is Emeryville so business-successful, and Oakland so business-poor?  Could the answer be the use of the Enterprise Zone?
California established an Enterprise Zone program in 1984 to stimulate private investment and promote job creation in economically distressed areas, and in 1993, the federal government under President Bill Clinton passed the Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities Act.
Oakland’s City Counsel has budgeted zero dollars to administrate this program, and two years ago, Oakland failed to apply for federal designation.  As a result of the City Council’s inaction, Oakland is not as business attractive as Emeryville and Berkeley. Read more

Obama’s Secretary of Education Honors Merritt College, Oakland Public Schools

By Tanya

From left to right: Front - Jada Williams, Peralta College Trustee Linda Handy, Kevin Duan, Jacob Gammel, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Danette Mitchell; Back row: Carlos McLean, Ronald Moss, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Terrance Walker.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited Merritt College last week to see the college’s Maximum Achievement Project (MAP),  which has been earned national recognition for successfully preparing leaders from among students who have been marginalized  by the traditional educational system.
MAP, a federally funded program, was designed to help Black men graduate from college and has expanded to accept male and female low-income students of all races.
The program has successfully utilized educational strategies, including tutoring, leadership courses and one-on-one help, to achieve African American male academic empowerment.   Read more

Lottie Jackson Celebrates Her 80th Birthday in Style

By Tanya

From left to right: Niece, Jeannette DeVaughn; sister, Eleanor DeVaughn; Lottie Jackson; sister, Sidney Williams; niece, Anita DeVaughn, and nieces Ceci Creoy and Linda Palmer.

A stretch white limousine delivered birthday celebrant Lottie Jackson in front of the Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville.  Dressed in a soft turquoise designer suit, with matching purse and shoes, she joined 132 guests for an afternoon of elegance and class.
Amid the guests at the Aug. 14 event were 18 relatives who had traveled from Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona, Las Vegas, Texas and Wisconsin to celebrate the 80th birthday of a wonderful woman. Read more

Berkeley Native Raymond Bell Wins Emmy Award

By Tanya

From left to right: George Washington, Satellite Communication Specialist; Raymond Bell; and Rick Williams, Williams & Merriwether.

When Raymond Bell took the stage at this year’s Emmy Awards Ceremony held July 31 at Leonard H. Goldenson Theater in North Hollywood, he had a picture of his mother in his pocket as he proudly accepted his award as Producer of Outstanding Sports Reporting.
Bell, all smiles, stated that he knew without her love, support and belief in him he wouldn’t be in “this moment.” Read more

National Night Out Celebrated in Oakland

By Tanya Dennis

Over 450 neighborhoods in Oakland came out to meet and greet their neighbors on Tuesday night as part of  “National Night Out.”
Former organizer and resident of 108th Avenue Otha McCain explained that National Night Out is, “A time for neighbors to get together and know each other.  If you know your neighbor it will help reduce crime and make a better community.”
“ I was born in that home and I’ve never lived anywhere else,” said Betty Johannessen, the oldest resident on 108th Avenue. “I’ve been here for 79 years.  I was here when the majority of this neighborhood was vacant lots full of pear trees.”
Oakland Police officers who came to the event awarded Allison Bosley two tickets to the A’s game.  Sgt. Gonzalez explained that OPD wants to show its appreciation to Ms. Bosley for bringing her neighbors together.
Food was a major part of the evening, along with a “Jumper” for the kids and tables for dominos and cards.  Potluck contributions ranged from spaghetti, hamburgers and hotdogs, to pasta and fruit salads and the best lemon pound cake in Oakland.
Some of the many residents who participated in the celebration were:   Alma McCain, Betty Anderson, Juan and Claudia Espinoza and son Moises,  Lorrel Anderson, Donald Clark, Ray Ford, brothers Elijah and Eric Ford, Davon Washington,  Bobbie Brown and Samantha Alvarez.

Actress Vonetta McGee, 70

By Tanya Dennis

Vonetta McGee was so popular that even Miles Davis created a song for her called “Vonetta”.

Actress Vonetta McGee died Friday, July 9th  from cardiac arrest.  Ms. McGee was born in San Francisco and graduated from Polytechnic High School.  She made her debut as an actress as the star of the Italian comedy “Faustina.”  That same year she performed with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Klaus Kinski in the Western, “The Great Silence.”  But she didn’t gain a national audience until her performance in 1972 when she starred as “Melinda” and played the love interest to Fred Williamson in “Hammer.” Read more

Star Creates Virtue Planet

By Tanya

Nancy Nelson-Ewing

I met Nancy when she was a student majoring in Drama at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond Virginia and I was head of the Dance Department.  Nancy quickly became a principle dancer in my company Ezibu-Muntu Dance Company www.ezibumuntu.org She then went on to a successful 30 year career that included three Broadway shows; TV commercials; Law and Order; The Cosby Show; All My Children and two critically acclaimed children’s television shows; “3-2-1 Contact, the Bloodhound Gang” and “Hot Hero Sandwich” on NBC.  For the last ten years, she has taught academics as well as character education using the arts in all of its various forms.  Her wealth of professional knowledge as a teaching artist has culminated in the creation of the The Virtue Planet Project. Read more

2010 Lecture Series: Literacy, Non-Negotiable

By Tanya

From left to right: Ernest Marshall, 1st place winner of Oakland Oratorical Fest Shakeri Evans, Montel McKinney, 1st place winner of the Oakland Oratorical Fest, Donald Layne, and Nate Parker.

In1865, African Americans opposed slavery, because not to do so would mean a denial of our humanity.
In 1965, African Americans opposed Jim Crow racism, because not to do would mean a denial of our humanity.
Will we wait another hundred years to oppose ignorance?  We can’t afford the luxury.  At the rate our African American men are being incarcerated, it is estimated that by the year 2030 fifty percent of all Black men will be in prison.  Right now the ratio is one in eighteen.  At this rate, one hundred years from now all Black people will be incarcerated or extinct.
While many of our children celebrate “Going Dumb”, there are concerned adults determined to help them become literate.
Nate Parker is no ordinary Hollywood star. He is a man on a mission.  He’s also intelligent and articulate. Parker shared his history with approximately 200 people March 9th at the 2010 Speakers Series entitled “Literacy Non-Negotiable” held in the Lissner Theater at Mills College.
A native of Norfolk Virginia concrete projects, he attended thirteen schools in twelve years with no father to guide him through the landmines of poverty.  He sees himself in the Henry Lowe character he played in the Movie “The Great Debaters” and he saw himself again last week when he visited Best High school, a school of approximately 375 predominately African-American and Latino students in East Oakland last Tuesday.

Andrea Nobles is the Director of the Oakland Oratorical Fest and the Literacy Speakers Series.

Parker stated, “If we can’t make education relevant to our kids it doesn’t matter.  They have to see themselves.   Right now our children have adopted a plantation mentality and value system which is vacant of self-esteem and self-worth. Without a direct connection to family, community or society our children will perish. This is a battle cry; our children are a reflection of us!  When we get it right, they’ll get it right!”
Parker continued, “We have to teach our children to be culturally competent, we can’t do this when we ignore obvious obstacles that are presented to our children. They face institutionalized racism, less resources, and culturally incompetent teachers.   Many teachers don’t know how to deal with our kids. They can’t relate or teach, and many of them say our kids can’t learn.  We must cultivate and hire culturally responsive teachers.
Kids today say “I don’t see myself; we’re not in the curriculum.”
Parker sees this disconnect and it has moved him to action.
As co-founder of The Leadership and Literacy Camp Program, his goal is to cultivate leadership amongst inner city youth and college students through educational programs and presentations.
Parents of two Oakland students, Anton and Lenore Walker, in attendance, have also taken action.  They conduct an after-school program at Bret Harte Junior High School, offering a cultural enrichment program that teaches students African history.
“By teaching the connection between Africa and ourselves, children learn their history and as a result they can have a better future.  Many students at school don’t have core values or core support.  We’re their extended family.  We do this from the heart,” said Anton Walker.
Parker concluded, “Because of gross achievement gaps and inequities that exist, teaching literacy to our children has to be a collaborative effort.  As Frederick Douglass said, “There is no progress without struggle.”

Pay It Forward

[caption id="attachment_5444" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Over 1000 protesters were at City Hall in San Francisco while 800 U.C. Berkeley Students marched from campus to Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland, to join seven hundred other protesters regarding cuts in education. An additional $32.00 per tax payer would fund Cal State and U.C. Universities. However Berkeley Unified School District has slashed 8 million in the last two years and is facing a 2.7 million deficit for 2010. Photo by Gene Hazzard."][/caption]

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Authentic Diversity

By Tanya

Dancers from all ethnic groups, all ages and gender are led by Zakariya and Naomi Diouf (right). Photos by Gene Hazzard.

America is a country that is defined by its diversity.  However, most people wonder what real diversity looks like. We usually define it as a culture that embraces all races and genders.  Saturday this reporter saw authentic diversity at the Malonga Casquelourd Center in Zakariya & Naomi Diouf’s West African Dance class.
Zakariya, who is from the Congo, and his wife, Naomi, who hails from Liberia, have dominated the African Dance scene in the Bay Area for over forty years.  Zakariya teaches three classes at Laney College and Naomi is a dance teacher at Berkeley High School.
However, it is in their dance classes, open to the public, that you see the true fabric of America: little children go across the floor first with their designated teacher Antoinette Holland, then comes the master teacher, Ibrahima Diouf who is Naomi’s son, leading America personified; Male and female, young and old, French, Chinese, Filipinos, Latinos, African-Americans, Anglos and Africans, plus-sized women and the athletic follow him in rhythm with the drum, united.
Plus-sized women have mastered the art of West African dance in a culture where they are often marginalized as symbols of beauty.  Here, they shine above the other dancers as their graceful bodies seem to embrace the movement more soulfully and deeper than the rest.  They are magnificent to watch! Read more