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Edgar “Dooky” Chase, IV — Lessons my Grandmother taught me: Pray, Work and Do for Others

NEW ORLEANS DATA NEWS WEEKLY — The Chase family is one that is close-knit with a commitment to serving others. It is in this spirit that the Legacy of Leah Chase lives on through those lives she’s touched. Data News Weekly had the opportunity to speak with Edgar “Dooky” Chase, IV, the grandson of Leah Chase, who is also the Owner and Chef of Dook’s Place located inside the Louis Armstrong Airport. Speaking of the importance of his grandmother and her amazing life and how she shaped them to pursue greatness he says, “The life and legacy of Leah Chase in terms of our family, she was the matriarch, the foundation and building block for all we do.” Continuing he says, “She taught every generation through the four walls of the restaurant not only about the industry, but about life introducing us to food, culture, art but most importantly about respecting people, about being inclusive.”

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By Edwin Buggage

The Building Blocks of Greatness

The Chase family is one that is close-knit with a commitment to serving others. It is in this spirit that the Legacy of Leah Chase lives on through those lives she’s touched. Data News Weekly had the opportunity to speak with Edgar “Dooky” Chase, IV, the grandson of Leah Chase, who is also the Owner and Chef of Dook’s Place located inside the Louis Armstrong Airport. Speaking of the importance of his grandmother and her amazing life and how she shaped them to pursue greatness he says, “The life and legacy of Leah Chase in terms of our family, she was the matriarch, the foundation and building block for all we do.” Continuing he says, “She taught every generation through the four walls of the restaurant not only about the industry, but about life introducing us to food, culture, art but most importantly about respecting people, about being inclusive.”

To Whom Much Who Is Given Much Is Required

Many who mention Mrs. Chase notes that’s what guided her life was a set of values and practices handed down from her father. “My grandmother’s motto she lived by was “pray, work and do for others.” That’s what was preached to her from her father and she passed it down to her children and they passed it down to us the grandkids and the great grandkids and that was a seed planted into us and what we will continue to live by.” While knowing of her impact on their lives; the family was surprised to hear stories of all the incredible things she did for others. “We were able to witness some, but we had no idea of the magnitude of the lives she touched and was loved by so many people.”

Building Bridges and Bringing a Community Together

Speaking with pride of his grandmother and her contribution to the lives of so many he says, “That is how she lived her life. The outpouring of support we’ve been getting is unbelievable and that is through the media, community and around the world. It’s really been uplifting to my family, it’s been inspirational not only to see her impact on so many people but it has been a driving force to sink into us that passion she had to do that we have to; to continue that legacy to pray work and do for others the same way she did.”

Leah Chase was true to the Spirit of New Orleans and being the bridge that brought people together.

“It was the love of people, that’s what she had. The love of community and that’s where her appreciation for art, food and music came — the things that bring the community together. Just the love of people and making them feel good that made her happy.”

Feeding the Soul with Love and Compassion

As he speaks of the life of his grandmother, there is emotion coming out as he composes himself speaking about her life and journey, “When we read these stories of how many lives she’s touched it sometimes brings us to tears thinking how she’s impacted our lives but WOW, look at all the people she’s helped and in many ways, made the world a better place spreading so much love and positivity.”

In a moment where his voice lights up thinking of the Life of Leah Chase he remarks, “I am fortunate and blessed to have had her as a grandparent, but even if she wasn’t, we were fortunate to have her in our presence being a truly phenomenal woman throughout her life. She will be missed and I hope the community and all the people who have been showing us love and support keep her in their spirit and that’s what she would want us to do — and pray, work and do for others.”

This article originally appeared in the New Orleans Data News Weekly.

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Activism

Over 500 Attend Police-Free Event to Reimagine Safety in Oakland

Night Out for Safety and Liberation started in 2013 by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain and is held as an alternative to the police-centric National Night Out. Since 2013, the event has spread across the country with over 50 events scheduled this year where communities make the night about the power of community, not cops.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Night Out for Safety and Liberation Events Held in More Than 50 Communities Across the Country

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

OAKLAND, CA — Over 500 people and families filled Josie de la Cruz Park in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood on Aug. 2 to enjoy performances, kids activities, and mutual aid to celebrate Night Out for Safety and Liberation (NOSL), an annual national event that redefines what safety and joy is without policing. The free community event included free diapers and books for all ages, food, bike giveaways, air purifiers, self defense training, a drag show, and performances from poets and artists such as Lauren Adams, TJ Sykes and Voces Mexicanas.

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Night Out for Safety and Liberation started in 2013 by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain and is held as an alternative to the police-centric National Night Out. Since 2013, the event has spread across the country with over 50 events scheduled this year where communities make the night about the power of community, not cops.

“We have been reimagining what safety means beyond police for our communities for over 25 years at the Ella Baker Center. When we create safe spaces for our community to come together and support each other, when we provide living-wage jobs so people are able to put food on their table, when we empower our children and provide opportunities for them to thrive, when we invest in healthcare and mental health resources, this is how we create real safety,” said Marlene Sanchez, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center.

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Through Night Out for Safety and Liberation, communities are creating safety not through policing but through healing and restorative justice, through creating gender affirming spaces and protecting trans and LGBTQIA communities, through reinvesting funding into community-based alternatives and solutions that truly keep communities safe.

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

“We don’t need more police in our streets. We don’t need more surveillance. What we need is resources!” said Jose Bernal, Organizing Director with the Ella Baker Center. “What we need is housing, diapers, legal resources, jobs. This [Night Out for Safety and Liberation] is what keeps us safe. This is resilience.”

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

The event was emceed by Nifa Akosua, Senior Organizer and Advocate with the Ella Baker Center, and TJ Sykes, author and community activist–both natives of Richmond, California. The show included entertaining performances from Oakland Originalz break dancers, Voces Mexicanas mariachi band, singer Lauren Adams and a drag show from Afrika America.

“Night Out for Safety and Liberation is about neighborhood love and neighborhood safety. It’s about connecting, showing up for each other and staying connected as a community. That’s how we keep each other safe,” said Nifa.

More than 20 organizations and vendors participated in Tuesday’s event, offering community resources, face painting, giving away 500 books for all ages, and free diapers. Those participating included: Help A Mother Out, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, ACLU of Northern California, TGI Justice Project, Urban Peace Movement, Ella Baker’s Readers & Cesar Chavez Public Library, Alliance for Girls, Bay Area Women Against Rape, Centro Legal de la Raza, Common Humanity Collective, Street Level Health Project, Malikah – Self Defense, East Bay Community Law Center, Unity Council, Young Women’s Freedom Center, East Bay Family Defenders, Bay Area Workers Support, L’Artiste A La Carte, Education Super Highway, Cut Fruit Collective, and WIC.

Other Night Out for Safety and Liberation events were held in Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, Phoenix, Denver, Minneapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Waco, Hampden, Conway, Washington D.C. and other cities. Follow the conversation and see photos from events in other cities using #SafetyIs and #NOSL22.

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Activism

Center for Elders’ Independence Celebrates 40 Years in the Community

“More than 5,000 senior participants and their families have benefited from CEI and PACE during the 40 years we have served the East Bay and we look forward to being able to serve 5,000 more,” said CEI President and CEO María Zamora.

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CEI participant Ervin Vinson (left) speaks to - geriatric aide O'Nesha Hogroe (center) and Maria Zamora (right), CEO of CEI.
CEI participant Ervin Vinson (left) speaks to - geriatric aide O'Nesha Hogroe (center) and Maria Zamora (right), CEO of CEI.

Senior residents of the East Bay gathered at the Center for Elders’ Independence in San Leandro to celebrate the organization’s 40th anniversary on July 12. About 100 participants and executives from CEI were there to celebrate the milestone with dancing, live music, food, trivia, and activities.

“Our organization has grown so much over the last 40 years that now we have more than 1,000 participants taking part in our programs,” CEI President and CEO María Zamora said. “We recognize the great responsibility we have to everyone who take part and our staff does an amazing job of meeting their needs every day.”

CEI’s participants are served through PACE, a personalized healthcare and services program, which allows seniors to receive the care they need, all while continuing to live at home.

“More than 5,000 senior participants and their families have benefited from CEI and PACE during the 40 years we have served the East Bay and we look forward to being able to serve 5,000 more.” Zamora said.

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Activism

Youth Uprising Approaches Mental Wellness with Fun, Education and Job Opportunity

Youth Uprising offers education support, job readiness, counseling for healing and health: holistic wellness, physical health, sports and recreation, free style music classes, video and film production, dance, performing and visual arts. Classes are from 3:30 -5:00 and is open to all youth.

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Youth Uprising CEO Y’anad Burrell. Photo courtesy of Y’anad Burrell.
Youth Uprising CEO Y’anad Burrell. Photo courtesy of Y’anad Burrell.

Black Mental Health: Part 8

By Tanya Dennis

Youth Uprising provides comprehensive, fully integrated health, wellness, educational, career, arts, and cultural programming to Alameda County youth and young adults, ages 13-24. Located at 8711 MacArthur Blvd. in East Oakland. Youth Uprising has taken a mind, body, spirit approach to mental wellness.

Y’Anad Burrell, CEO of Youth Uprising, says that “It was essential we offered a mental wellness program at Youth Uprising because we saw the unfortunate outcomes of social isolation and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic and we wanted to broaden our programs to not always think of wellness as a room and counseling, but instead think of how we could incorporate wellness in our everyday life dance.

“We have full-time clinicians but elevate the narrative of wellness that is interactive and fun. We check in with our youth on how they are adapting to this new social structure created by COVID-19,” she said.

Mental health clinicians Tamikia McCoy and Rica Rice offer services Monday thru Friday. For service contact Tamikia McCoy at – tmccoy@youthuprising.org

Youth Uprising offers education support, job readiness, counseling for healing and health: holistic wellness, physical health, sports and recreation, free style music classes, video and film production, dance, performing and visual arts. Classes are from 3:30 -5:00 and is open to all youth.

Currently Youth Uprising’s “Wing Wednesdays” is held at their Café, but there are plans for “pop-ups” and “A Taste of Oakland,” student event in August where 10 to 15 students will showcase their food.

Burrell says that “A Taste of Oakland” is providing an opportunity for learning the elements of the culinary industry in classes teaching cooking and the business side of the café. Each station in the café will have an adult teacher to guide them on how to serve, how to greet the customer, work the cash register weekly, cleaning and sanitizing the café, and understanding the elements of being a chef.”

Burrell is especially proud of Youth Uprising’s Delinquency Prevention Network (DPN) conducted by Javion Robertson. DPN is a job readiness program training up to 20 youth reduced from 50 due to COVID safety.

Every 90 days students are taught communications, public speaking, resume writing, time management, professional dress, workplace employer relations and prepare youth before they are placed.

DPN is Youth Uprisings most popular and well attended program and is conducted Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-4:30 p.m.. To enroll contact Javion Robertson at jrobertson@youthuprising.org

Burrell noted that, “Youth Uprising belongs to our community and our youth, so we deliver on our original purpose and design. Our goal is to develop youth into leaders, and that they leave aware of how the system impacts them and are prepared.

“Our mission statement is “We believe that if we provide youth with relevant services and programs, meaningful engagement with caring adults, and opportunities to practice leadership they will become change agents and contributors to a healthy thriving community. This formula for change maintains that healthy, involved people can influence policy and ultimately create healthier, safer, and economically robust communities. It recognizes that youth are inherently resilient, and that risk can be reduced with the right set of supports, services, and opportunities.”

For more information contact Danielle Parker, Youth Uprising’s Executive Assistant dparker@youthuprising.org or call 510-777-9909.

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