Celebrating African American History Month at Glenfield School

Filmmaker Dawn Porter and journalist Kuae Mattox celebrating African American History Month at Glenfield Middle School in Montclair, NJ (photo courtesy of Ki Keys)

Actor Andre Braugher takes questions from the crowd at Glenfield Middle School's celebration of African American History Month. (photo courtesy of Ki Keys)

Every year, my daughter’s school holds African American Career day in celebration of Black History month.  This year, they had a kickoff assembly first, which was held on Friday.  Even though the snow was falling and storm Nemo was on its way, actor Andre Braugher and filmmaker Dawn Porter still showed up and shared their remarkable success stories with over 600 attentive middle school students.

Braugher shared about his various roles from portraying a Union soldier in an all-Black regiment in the iconic film, Glory, (one of his first jobs after graduating from Juliard) to his latest TV series Last Resort, where he played the commander of a submarine. Graciously, he answered all kinds of questions including what other famous people he’d met.

“All of them,” Braugher answered, “except Steven Spielberg.”

Porter showed a clip from her latest film, Gideon’s Army, a documentary about public defenders that won the editing award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  The kids’ mouths dropped to the ground when they discovered thousands of films are submitted to Sundance but only a handful are actually accepted.  You can see Gideon’s Army this summer on HBO.

The discussion was moderated by parent volunteer, Kuae Mattox, a journalist formerly with NBC and the Miami Herald. She is also president of Mocha Moms Inc., a national support group for mothers of color.

This Friday, February 15, the celebration continues when Glenfield Middle School holds its Annual African American Career Day from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.

The event will feature African American presenters, most of whom are from the local community.  From police officers to politicians, each presenter will share his or her career story to let all students see African Americans achieving success in an array of fields.  The objective is to break stereotypes, illustrate the achievability of all professions, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity and of course to inspire.

Please come help inspire the next generation of leaders by sharing your success stories.  If you’re in the Montclair, NJ area, contact me at dionnelford@gmail.com to participate.

Speaker Saturday: Talking Genealogy at the Mocha Moms National Convention

Picture of the Paris Las Vegas hotel where I'm staying and speaking about tracing my roots at Mocha Moms' national convention. (Photo courtesy of expedia.com)

When I was pregnant with my second child and still getting my bearings as a mother, I joined Mocha Moms, a national organization that supports mothers of color.  I was one of a group of about ten women who founded our  chapter in Northern New Jersey and was honored to be that group’s first vice president.  Being part of Mocha Moms was very grounding for me, similar to how it’s felt to trace my roots and reclaim my family’s lost history.

So, when my friend, Kuae Mattox, Co-founder of our Essex County Mocha Moms chapter and now president of the national organization asked me to speak at their  national convention about tracing my roots, I was both excited and thrilled.  True to their purpose of supporting mothers of color, they’ve had some fantastic workshops at this year’s conference on everything from preventing cyber-bullying to saving money. Author Amy Chua will share her experiences raising her daughters chronicled in her best selling memoir, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” Before wrapping up tomorrow, conference goers get an advance screening of the movie, “The Help” based on the book by Kathryn Stockett.

What a gift it was for me to find the Mocha Moms, to find my roots and to connect them now here at this conference.

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