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You Had Me at Hello: ‘It is important to yield, listen and understand your spouse’

THE BIRMINGHAM TIMES — “You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them.

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By Anita Debro

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone who would, please send nominations to Erica Wright at ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

A’KHI AND RAVEN KING

Live: Vestavia Hills

Married: April 28, 2018

Met: A’Khi and Raven met in 2006 at New Birth Family Church when they were both in the teen ministry. Raven said she was friends with A’Khi but nothing more. “We were just a group of teens who went bowling and skating together,” Raven recalled. “I had no interest in him then.” A’Khi felt differently, though. “I liked her.”  By the summer of 2012 the two had become best friends. “I had seen her with all of her boyfriends,” A’Khi said. Shortly after Raven broke up with a boyfriend the two began talking more and the idea of being in a relationship surfaced.  “I really prayed about it and him,” Raven said. “I started to see his love for God and I could see his heart.” Raven said she and A’Khi were very different — she was an extrovert and he was a quiet homebody.  A’Khi did not think that those differences should keep them from being together.  After more prayer, Raven decided to put her trust and faith in A’Khi.  Just as their relationship was getting started, A’Khi left for Tuskegee University.

First date: Because A’Khi was away at Tuskegee and Raven remained in Birmingham, it would be nearly two years after they began dating before the couple would actually go on a real date. “We mainly saw each other on Skype,” Raven said. In 2014 they finally went to Chili’s Restaurant in Trussville. “I had saved up just enough money to take her out,” A’khi recalled.

The proposal: A’Khi felt that the time was right in 2016 to ask for Raven’s hand in marriage.  He bought a ring and decided to propose after a movie date. “I had the ring in my pocket and as soon as the credits started rolling my heart was beating loudly,” he said. Raven said she went to the restroom after the movie was over and when she returned she could not find A’Khi and the rest of the family members who had come to the movie. Raven said she became frustrated when she could not find A’Khi and when she finally found him she was ready to fuss. A’Khi said he pretended to start an argument but then instead proposed. “My mouth just dropped open,” Raven said. She said “yes.” But a few months into their engagement the couple ended the relationship. “It was a bad break up,” Raven said. “We both thought we were done with each other.”

“I actually lost the engagement ring that I gave to her,” A’Khi said. “It was that bad.”

Take Two: A’Khi and Raven spent six months apart before reconciling. One of the things that sparked the reconciliation was a chance meeting between A’Khi and her father at church, Raven said. “They met and clicked immediately,” Raven said. “My father encouraged me to unblock him and to talk about what I was feeling.” Raven said that meeting and her father’s approval of A’Khi ultimately led them back together. On Christmas 2017 A’Khi, with a new engagement ring, proposed to Raven for the second time.

The wedding: The couple wed at the Trussville Civic Center. Raven remembers being nervous and shaking before her vows, but her nerves calmed after she walked down the aisle. “That day was amazing,” she said. “I was just very grateful.” A’Khi said he was not nervous, but instead excited about beginning their journey as a married couple.

Words of Wisdom: The couple said they have learned a great deal in nearly one year of marriage. “I have learned how to yield,” he said. “It is important to yield and to listen and try to understand (your spouse),” A’Khi said.

Raven said it is important for couples to be committed to continuing to learn about their spouse and to learn how to be a couple. “I don’t know everything and he doesn’t know everything, so we have to keep learning,” she said. “It is important for a couple to continue to learn each other and learn how to be a healthy and happy couple.”

Happily ever after: Raven and A’Khi enjoy going to the movies. Raven likes to travel, while A’Khi likes to spend time at home, hang out with friends and play pool with his team.  Raven, a native of Selma, is an aspiring dancer and actress. She teaches dance classes and also works on the staff at Danberry Assisted Living.  A’Khi, a Birmingham native, works for the Birmingham Water Works.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times

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Activism

OP-ED: Lessons in Leadership by Regina Jackson, Outgoing Executive Director of EOYDC

Leadership is not just a position or a title, it is action and example. To effectively lead and make a lasting impact in our communities, we must tap into our passion for service in a way that creates value in the lives of others. This charge begins with one specific attribute of emotional intelligence: self-reflection. As leaders, it is critically important that we know ourselves. We must ask: who am I and what do I stand for?

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President and CEO Regina G. Jackson has set the strategic direction for the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) for 27 years.
President and CEO Regina G. Jackson has set the strategic direction for the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) for 27 years.

By Regina Jackson With Phylicia King

President and CEO Regina G. Jackson has set the strategic direction for the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) for 27 years. With a platform focused on character-based leadership development, her youth-led initiatives have empowered thousands of young people to achieve academic and career success.

Now, as she prepares to transition from her EOYDC leadership role this month, Regina shares lessons in leadership from her lifelong journey toward fulfilling her life’s purpose. She speaks in her own words below.

For nearly three decades, I have focused my efforts on investing in and helping to nurture the potential of youth across Oakland. Like so many areas across the nation, East Oakland is a vibrant community brimming with possibility that is often overshadowed by the very real impact of higher poverty and crime rates.

In a community where many families struggle to meet basic needs, the kinds of enrichment activities that can inspire kids to explore, discover and develop their gifts and talents are often financially out of reach.

And that’s why, now more than ever, the efforts of community-based organizations are so important. They are not only a conduit for developing the social and leadership capacities of our youth, but they also provide safe spaces that uplift them as they navigate life circumstances that can be overwhelming to face without meaningful support.

As I approach the end of my time leading EOYDC, I wanted to share some important lessons that can benefit nearly any organization seeking to improve its community. Given the challenges we’re facing, there is no more important time to understand how we can act in the lives of young people and set them up to thrive.

Know Who You Are and What Drives You

Leadership is not just a position or a title, it is action and example. To effectively lead and make a lasting impact in our communities, we must tap into our passion for service in a way that creates value in the lives of others. This charge begins with one specific attribute of emotional intelligence: self-reflection. As leaders, it is critically important that we know ourselves. We must ask: who am I and what do I stand for?

Thinking back, my passion for service began in my early years as a Brownie in the Girls Scouts. Earning my first merit badge lit a fire in me to continue to serve and, in doing so, I developed a strong sense of accountability and responsibility that remains at the core of who I am today. As a spiritually grounded, purpose-driven leader, knowing who I am and what I stand for upholds me on this path I’ve been called to walk. I accepted my role at EOYDC because I felt aligned with the center’s mission, fueled by passion and sustained by a work ethic that allowed me to face challenges with determination, lead with integrity and inspire others to join me along the way.

As leaders, what we discover about ourselves creates the foundation of our character, purpose and authenticity — all vital keys to our success in leadership. We must take time to reflect and assess who we are, what we value and how we show up in the world in order to truly make a difference. When we’ve done this important internal work, we can effectively lead others toward a common vision or goal.

Challenge the Notion of What’s Possible 

There is power in possibility. Leaders who aspire to break barriers look at their surroundings, circumstances and the people they lead through the lens of possibility and set expectations based on that perspective in order to shape the future.

I meet every student I mentor where they are mentally, physically and emotionally — and I walk beside them on the path to endless possibility. Through EOYDC’s summer program, we place young people in positions to lead through exposure and opportunity.

Youth as young as 13 design curriculum, teach classes and manage people. We put the power in their hands and offer positive reinforcement to guide them along the way. As a result, students gain independence and self-confidence — and that is exactly what a successful leader should aim to influence.

As leaders, when we set expectations for the people we lead and challenge them to stretch and grow to meet them, we help unlock their potential and change how they view themselves. This process is not without discomfort, but we must encourage those we lead to embrace discomfort as a byproduct of growth and remain focused on the goal at hand.

Leave a Legacy

A leader’s legacy is only as strong as the foundation they leave behind that allows others to continue to advance. True leadership is not about the role, it is about the goal — and with service as a goal, our work is never done.

At EOYDC, we guide youth into new opportunities by exposing them to new concepts and practice areas and helping them develop the skills they need to succeed. Many of the students I’ve mentored who have gone on to work in prominent positions in the public and private sector point to the supervisory experience they received at EOYDC as critical to their subsequent success as working professionals. I’ve seen kids sit up straighter, walk into rooms with more confidence, and continue to serve because we helped them realize possibilities.

When it is all said and done, leaders raise up other leaders. This is our legacy. One of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that the majority of current EOYDC leaders are EOYDC alumni — and as I move on to the next chapter in my journey, I feel confident that I am entrusting my work to the next generation of leaders who will carry the mission forward.

To follow the next phase of Regina’s leadership journey, reginagjackson.com. To learn more about the East Oakland Development Center’s programs and initiatives, visit www.eoydc.org.

** Phylicia King is an associate with SMJ Communications.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: Roosevelt Vernon Cobb, Daddy Hammercy!

I now understand why publishing has been a major part of my life, because you worked for the Phoenix newspaper in Muskogee, Oklahoma, before you brought your family to Oakland, where I was born at 1776 7th Street at the Pack Train Hotel into a large, welded barrel that you kept in the closet.

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Theodore Vernon Cobb. Photo courtesy of the family.
Theodore Vernon Cobb. Photo courtesy of the family.

Publisher Paul Cobb’s Birthday Tribute to his father

By Paul Cobb, Publisher, Post Newsgroup

Happy Birthday, Daddy. I am honored to be a son of your seven-children family circle.

Even though you only finished the 6th grade, you were known to spot talent and could predict future opportunities for success, especially when you met Mary Magdalene Bland while she was working at Grandpa Early Bland’s watermelon and food stand.

And you prophesied that the “Lord willing, I’m going to marry you.”

You crested when you married her after she had graduated from Langston University.

I now understand why publishing has been a major part of my life, because you worked for the Phoenix newspaper in Muskogee, Oklahoma, before you brought your family to Oakland, where I was born at 1776 7th Street at the Pack Train Hotel into a large, welded barrel that you kept in the closet.

Most of that money was “earned” from your after-work second job mastery of the billiard tables on Seventh Street while wearing overalls with a cargo hook in your back pocket.

You brought your entrepreneurial skills to your work as a longshoreman, where unbeknownst to your children, you managed to save by dropping the dimes, quarters, halves, and silver dollars.

Those coins allowed you to buy properties and a car, in the same manner in which you earned them, face-to-face, over the counter, to be counted and acknowledged by the bankers and dealers, while you watched.

As a kid, with a portable shoe shine box, I worked in front of the pool halls by day, where I collected national Black newspapers from the Pullman Porters who brought them to me as a tip with payment.

You and Jimmy Herman helped me and my brother to get hired as ship clerks.

Dad, I did not know that you “graced” those same places at night. I remember when your wife told you to stop that lifestyle or she would leave, you stopped. You abruptly pursued a Bible-based lifestyle with zeal.

I still use some of your favorite aphorisms, such as, “don’t back down from any challenge, or anybody, at any time: You must outwork them.”

“Always come big or stay at home and if you do that, then all I can say is Hammercy.”

Following your advice, I married Gay Plair in 1970. I discovered that her father and you were both named after President Theodore Roosevelt and both of you share conjoined birth dates. Theodore Plair’s birthday is December 31 and yours is January 1. “Hammercy!”

You would have been proud to know that ILWU President Jimmy Herman came to my house with Port Director Wally Abernathy and American President Lines Shipping Co., CEO Bruce Seaton where we organized the Oakland Dredging Coalition to expand jobs and maritime opportunities.

I reminded your friend Herman how you would have said “Dig a little deeper or stay at home.” Hammercy!

This birthday message is being published in the Oakland Post because when Gay published her father’s birthday tribute on Facebook I finally realized that I, too, must honor you the same way. I hope the readers will show me how to use Facebook because I need to activate the “friends” names on my page.

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Bay Area

SEQ CHAPTER Imani Vision Board Party at The MC Arts Gallery

Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African Americans together as a community.

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From left: Ayana Morgan-Woodard, Chauntina Thomas holding her vision board, Oshalla Diana Marcus and Brittney Burton. (Photo by Godfrey Lee. More photos can be seen on the MC Arts and Culture Facebook page.)
From left: Ayana Morgan-Woodard, Chauntina Thomas holding her vision board, Oshalla Diana Marcus and Brittney Burton. (Photo by Godfrey Lee. More photos can be seen on the MC Arts and Culture Facebook page.)

By Godfrey Lee

Oshalla Diana Marcus hosted the Imani Vision Board Party at the MC Arts Gallery in Marin City on Saturday, New Year’s Day, starting the New Year celebrating the principles of Kwanzaa.

Vision boarding is a fun activity involving clipping pictures and words out of magazines to visually represent the life you want to see for yourself. Marcus wrote in her announcement that “many see vision boarding as creating art, while others see it as therapy. However, all can agree that it is fun, especially when combined with healthy traditional New Year’s Day Soul Food: rice, greens, black-eyed peas, chicken, corn bread, and a little sweet wine.”

A small group of women came to the vision board party, including Brittney Burton and Ayana Morgan-Woodard who helped Marcus organize the event. Mz. Ebony Divine McKinley said it didn’t matter how many people came. “It is not your loss; it is their loss.

They miss out on a beautiful event. Don’t take it as a failure. Just look at it as I’m giving it to you,” she said.

Marcus said that the event is an opportunity for us to model, create and imagine something in new ways, especially in our work and world. Kwanzaa was a holiday that reminds us that we can be sustainable and self-sufficient. “It is important to really understand this about our culture. So, let’s own it.” Oshalla said.

Marcus also honored the ancestors who came before us and brought us to where we are now.

Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African Americans together as a community.

Karenga combined aspects of several different African harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and the Zulu, to form the basis of the week-long holiday.

The Swahili term ‘umoja’ means ‘unity’ to strive for and maintain in the family, community, nation and race.

‘Kujichagulia’ means ‘self-determination,’ to define, name, create and speak for oneself.

‘Ujima’ means ‘collective work and responsibility,’ to build, uplifting your community together and to help one another in your community.

‘Ujama’ means ‘cooperative economics.’ Similar to Ujima, this principle refers to uplifting your community economically, and to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

‘Nia’ means ‘purpose’ or to collectively build and developing of the community in order to restore it to its traditional greatness.

‘Kuumba’ meaning ‘creativity,’ to use our creativity and imagination in order to make our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

‘Imani,’ the final principle, translates to ‘faith’ in the community, and “to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, teachers, leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle,” says Karenga.

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