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Juneteenth: A Day To Celebrate Our Ancestors

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The Omnira Institute (OI) will hold its annual Juneteenth celebration in Oakland on Saturday June 14.

This ritual of remembrance observes the roots of freedom for African Americans with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which declared freedom for enslaved people held in the South during the Civil War.

The news didn’t reach Texas until June 19, 1865, hence the name for the most prevalent festival celebrating the freeing of the enslaved in the U.S.

< p>Omnira Institute reshapes the celebration by making it an occasion to acknowledge the sacrifice of the enslaved people, and therefore more spiritual than political.

Now, in the eleventh year that OI has been holding the ceremony, and the sixth at Lake Merritt, prayer remains its hallmark.

Prayer and faith were powerful weapons that those who were captured and enslaved used in their fight for freedom, says Wanda Ravernell, executive director of OI.

“Therefore we honor them in the pathways of their origins: First Nation, (American Indian) Yoruba, Kongo and Vodun from West African tradition,” she said. “There were also captives who were African Jews, Christians and Muslims.”

Toward the end of the slave era, when capturing Africans and selling them as slaves was banned in the United States, East Indians and Chinese were brought in to work alongside the creole blacks. Therefore, “We also try to have representatives of Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist traditions,” Ravernell said.

The event is framed by music in the form of voice and percussion. “We use the chant and drum from the West African Yoruba people who lived in what is now Nigeria,” she said. “We also use the African American ring-shout tradition of Georgia, where much of the slave population had origins from Kongo and Angola.”

The choir owes its knowledge of the ring-shout to the McIntosh County Shouters of Darien, Ga., who have been handing down the tradition, generation-to-generation, uninterrupted for more than 200 years.

OI’s Juneteenth “is welcoming and warm,” says Wanda Sabir, host of Wanda’s Picks, a radio show, and English professor at Alameda College. “It really embraces what it means to be a Diaspora citizen.”

Not only do “(t)hey put together the historic aspects with the readers of the Emancipation Proclamation, they provide insight into our people by bringing in the African music and the costumes taking us back,” and allowing us “to do these dances that our people once did,” she said.

Sponsored in part by a grant from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, the event also features OIs chorus and drummers, Awon Ohun Omnira (Voices of Freedom), which will lead attendees in the ring-shout, and they will close the ceremony with African drumming.

Also on June 14, Africans and African Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the world will be joining in the 27th annual International Libations for the Ancestors Day.

Throughout the African Diaspora, ancestors will be revered simultaneously by pouring water and calling the names of those who have gone before them. For those living on the West Coast the hour of pouring will be at 9 a.m. at the Fountain at Lake Merritt (across from Merritt Bakery and Restaurant).

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#NNPA BlackPress

IN MEMORIAM: Cheryl Hickmon: National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Dies

NNPA NEWSWIRE — THE BURTON WIRE — Hickmon, a beloved and celebrated member, served the organization for 39 years. The Connecticut native was initiated into the Alpha Xi Chapter at South Carolina State University in 1982 and was an active member of the Hartford (Conn.) Alumnae Chapter. The national office of the sorority released a statement announcing Hickmon’s  death which reads as follows, in part: “It is with great sorrow that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. shares the passing of our beloved National President and Chair of the National Board of Directors, Cheryl A. Hickmon. President Hickmon transitioned peacefully on January 20, 2022 after a recent illness.

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Cheryl Hickmon, national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the nation’s largest African-American sorority.

By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Culture and Entertainment Editor

The nation is mourning the passing of Cheryl Hickmon, national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the nation’s largest African-American sorority. Hickmon was elected president of the organization dedicated to sisterhood, scholarship and service  November 21, 2021 at the 55th national convention held in Atlanta, GA.

Hickmon, a beloved and celebrated member, served the organization for 39 years. The Connecticut native was initiated into the Alpha Xi Chapter at South Carolina State University in 1982 and was an active member of the Hartford (Conn.) Alumnae Chapter. The national office of the sorority released a statement announcing Hickmon’s  death which reads as follows:

“It is with great sorrow that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. shares the passing of our beloved National President and Chair of the National Board of Directors, Cheryl A. Hickmon. President Hickmon transitioned peacefully on January 20, 2022 after a recent illness.

President Hickmon was a devoted member of Delta Sigma Theta since 1982 and served in various capacities at the chapter, region, and national level before being elected National President. She is remembered not only for her role as a leader but for being a colleague, friend, and most of all, sister.

The entire sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated mourns the loss of President Hickmon. During this difficult time, we ask that you respect her family’s privacy and keep them in your prayers.”

In addition to serving as the national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Cheryl was employed at Montefiore’s Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Health in Hartsdale, NY where she supervised the In Vitro Fertilization Laboratories for Andrology and Endocrinology. A licensed Clinical Laboratory Technologist, Hickmon worked in the Reproductive Medical Laboratory for more than 30 years.
Members and supporters have been offering remembrances and calling for prayers in response to Hickmon’s death. Florida representative Val Demings,  who is a member of the sorority, shared her thoughts via Twitter:
Organizations including the NAACP and fellow Black Greek Letter Organizations like Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma and Alpha Kappa Alpha have issued statements about Hickmon’s passing.

Cheryl Hickmon is the daughter of the late Dr. Ned Hickmon of Hartford, CT and Bishopville, South Carolina and the late Consuella Anderson Hickmon of Hartford, CT and Cincinnati, Ohio. She is survived by her two older brothers Ned and David Hickmon.

Hickmon’s bio reads, “Cheryl lives her life by the motto … ‘Don’t measure life by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away.’” She was 60.

This obituary was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Instagram or Twitter @TheBurtonWire. 

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Activism

Zoom Town Hall Meeting to Stop State Takeover of Oakland Schools

The Zoom Town Hall, sponsored by the Oakland Post Salon & Oakland Education Association (OEA), will take place Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (U.S. and Canada)

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Students, parents and teachers protested in January 2019 against the closure of Roots International Academy in East Oakland as the school board voted to permanently close the school - under the guidance of the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team(FCMAT) and Karen Monroe of Alameda County Office of Education. Photo courtesy of ABC7.
Students, parents and teachers protested in January 2019 against the closure of Roots International Academy in East Oakland as the school board voted to permanently close the school - under the guidance of the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team(FCMAT) and Karen Monroe of Alameda County Office of Education. Photo courtesy of ABC7.

By Post Staff

There will be a Zoom town hall meeting to learn about and take action to stop the takeover of the Oakland Unified School District by superintendent L. K. Monroe of the Alameda County Office of Education and the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT) on behalf of the State of California.

The Zoom Town Hall, sponsored by the Oakland Post Salon & Oakland Education Association (OEA), will take place Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (U.S. and Canada)

Join the discussion as we seek answers to the following questions:

  • How did this happen?
  • Why is L. Karen Monroe, Alameda County office of Education, doing this?
  • What is the role of the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT)?
  • Why are they trying to force us to close more schools?
  • Why do they demand massive budget cuts when schools are awash in billions of dollars of state and federal funding?
  • What can we do to stop this?

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://bit.ly/saveOUSD

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

A short video that explains the issue can be viewed at https://bit.ly/noFCMAT

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Bay Area

IN MEMORIAM: Kituria Littlejohn McConnell, 71

Kit was born July 16, 1950, in Salisbury, North Carolina, to Horace and Esther Littlejohn. She was raised in Washington, D.C., where she married Attorney Gregory (Greg) R. McConnell in 1973. The couple first met at Backus Junior High School in 1963. They attended Coolidge High School and Howard University where Kit graduated in 1972 with a degree in English.

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Kituria (Kit) Littlejohn McConnell
Kituria (Kit) Littlejohn McConnell

July 16, 1950 – Jan. 16, 2022

Kituria (Kit) Littlejohn McConnell passed away peacefully at her home in Danville, California, surrounded by her family, on Jan. 16, 2022 at the age of 71, following a two-year battle with cancer.

Kit was born July 16, 1950, in Salisbury, North Carolina, to Horace and Esther Littlejohn. She was raised in Washington, D.C., where she married Attorney Gregory (Greg) R. McConnell in 1973.

The couple first met at Backus Junior High School in 1963. They attended Coolidge High School and Howard University where Kit graduated in 1972 with a degree in English.

It was during their time together at Howard University that they dated, and Kit honored Greg by agreeing to be his lifelong partner. Their marriage extended for 48 years until Kit’s passing.

After graduation from Howard, Kit excelled as a teacher at Eastern High School. Due to her exceptional teaching and interpersonal skills, she was tapped to teach a range of students with various achievement levels.

Kit and Greg lived in the Washington, D.C., area until they moved to Hercules, California, in 1985. Her hobbies included reading, decorating, and traveling. Kit is regarded as a loving and kind woman who was thoroughly devoted to her family and friends. She was truly a good person that no one ever said an unkind word about. She was the spiritual leader of her family, firmly grounded in decency, compassion and sharing her goodwill toward all.

Kit is survived by her husband, Gregory R. McConnell; her three devoted children, Kalela Washington and husband Spencer of Olney, MD; Gregory (JR) McConnell Jr. of Oakland, CA, and Kimberley Riberdy and husband Jason of Dublin, CA; grandchildren Aliya G. Washington and Kituria J. Riberdy; sisters Phyllis Palm and Montressa Fisher; brother Horace G. Littlejohn, III; a host of loving in-laws, nieces, and nephews; and a score of lifelong devoted friends.

Kit is now reunited with her parents, Horace and Esther Littlejohn, and her sister, Millicent Littlejohn Wheeler who preceded her in death.

The family will convene a memorial service in the Washington, D.C., area this spring that will also be available for remote viewing. In lieu of flowers or other sentiments, the family requests that you go to your loved ones, hug them, and tell them you love them.

Thank you, Kit, for a love supreme.

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