Song, Poetry, Literature, Deep Conversation Co-sponsored by Student Services and MCNY Library
Organized and moderated by Prof. Desi K. Robinson in conversation with Dr. Lessie Branch(MCNY) and Sekou Malefi Baako, Black History Professor (York College).
Featuring vocal selections by Gospel singer/songwriter Lawana Dean Davis and poetry by author Kendall Barksdale.
All guests and participants are encouraged to wear their most festive red, black, green, and yellow attire to commemorate and celebrate.
Wed, June 23, 2021 | 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM EDT
Desi K. Robinson is a health+lifestyle journalist, professor, media literacy educator, diva farmer and urban belle using media as a lens where pop culture meets public health and social justice. From consumption of food to consumption of media images, her media and wellness projects and international work explore the intersections of art, culture, race, gender, politics, social justice and the environment. She created, produced and hosted Women in the Making: Tomorrow’s: History Today, © a health and lifestyle radio show that speaks to and from the perspective of today’s girl – today’s headlines and the role of girls and women in revolutions around the world! Desi was an educator in Ecuador, and served as a freelance reporter for WBAI Radio in New York and Rice N’ Peas Magazine in London where she’s written articles on the ever-changing ideals of beauty, the politics of obesity, the politics of music, the evolution in hip-hop culture, and the influences of celebrity and pop culture in activism.
Dr. Lessie Branch is a Racial Policy Scholar, Fulbright Specialist, Director of The Think Tank at The Thinkubator, and Affiliated Scholar with Scholars Strategy Network. She is also an Associate Professor in The School for Business at Metropolitan College of New York. She earned her Ph.D. from The Milano School of Policy, Management and Environment at The New School. Dr. Branch’s research examines the gulf between Black optimism, group progress and the actual data on continuing disparities and potentially speaks to wider questions of social knowledge, social beliefs and relative group position. She is the author of Optimism At All Costs: Black Attitudes, Activism, and Advancement in Obama’s America, with University of Massachusetts Press. Dr. Branch is a tireless advocate for people of color through her scholarship, advocacy, speaking engagements and teaching.
Andrew P. Jackson (Sekou Molefi Baako) was appointed to the Queens Library Board of Trustees in 2017 by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. upon hisretirement as Executive Director of Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center after 36 years of service.
Nationally, Andrew is Past President of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. (2004-2006), Chairs the BCALA Affiliates Committee and Co-Chairs the American Library Association’s Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. Hisfirst published work was Queens Notes Facts About the Forgotten Borough of Queens, New York (2010). His essay In the Tradition: The Legacy of Cultural Messengers from Langston Hughes to Tupac Shakur was published in 2011. He was chief editor of The 21stCentury Black Librarian in America: Issues and Challenges (2010) which received the BCALA 2010 Contribution to Publishing Award.
He has anextensive record of service to a broad community, having served on the Board of Directors of Queens Public Television; the Community Advisory Board of Elmhurst Hospital Center and Board of Trustees for The Renaissance Charter School. Today, his community service continues as Chair of the Queens Borough President’s African American Heritage Planning Committee and a founding board member of the Corona-East Elmhurst Historic Preservation Society. He is a member of the Kupferberg Center Arts Advisory Board at Queens College (CUNY) and served on the President’s Advisory Board at York College (CUNY). Andrew is a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Louis Armstrong House and Archives; the Queens County Juneteenth Planning Committee and is a Gold Life Member of the NAACP.
Andrew earned his BS degree in Business Administration from York College (CUNY) and MLS degree from the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College (CUNY). He recently earned a Certificate in Effective College Instruction from the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) and the American Council on Education (ACE). Andrew has been an adjunct professor in Black Studies and Cultural Diversity at York College since 2001, and teaches Library Science at Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies since 2007. Andrew mentors numerous graduate students and young librarians across the country.
Recipient of the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Vietnam, Andrew was honorably discharged in 1968 from the U.S. Air Forceas a Staff Sergeant (E-5). He was given seven African names for his commitment to teaching and sharing Africana History and Culture.
Contramestra Amazonas (Jana M. Burton) is a proud member of the World Karate Union, United Martial Artists Fellowship Hall of Famer, Women’s Martial Arts Network, the Society of Black Belts of America and a recent feature of Martial Sports Magazine. She was recently promoted to one of the highest ranking African American females in the United States in capoeira during a belt promotion ceremony with participants from North & South America, Africa and St. Maarten. She serves as the Curriculum Developer for the Afro Brazilian Arts & Education Academy as well as the Artistic Director for Grupo Liberdade de Capoeira, the first capoeira group formed in New Jersey by her teacher Mestre Cigano. She has been a featured artist to teach Capoeira philosophy, movement and song across the US as well as 14 times internationally in the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Concurrently, she teaches mathematics in the Newark Public Schools system, and is a dedicated freelance teaching artist, speaker and performer in several prominent West African dance and drum companies including Umoja Dance Company.
Kendall Barksdale is a poet from New York City who uses her poetry to spread messages of love, peace, positivity, and perseverance to the world with the intention of encouraging others to convert their pain into strength and beauty. Her perspectives have been shaped by her experiences in both the inner-city and halls of academia, earning a Bachelors of English from Clark Atlanta University and a Masters of Education from Fordham University. Her childhood dreams of creating a better future motivated her to teach. Poetry has been a constant companion to Kendall; realizing there are many people who have felt silenced by trauma, anger, personal doubts, and fear of not being heard or understood, she has decided to share her thoughts, in hopes of giving others a voice.
Gospel singer and songwriter, Lawanna Dean Davis started her journey singing gospel music at the tender age of 14 in her local church choir in Queens, NYC. When she was just a teen, Davis had the rare opportunity to participate in a never-before concept of creating an inter-borough gospel music choir where all of the greatest choirs across New York City came together for a live recording, singing with the late, great Rev. Timothy Wright and the original New York Fellowship Mass Choir. Some twenty years later, Davis reunited with that very same choir, under the direction of his son, the acclaimed Pastor John David Wright. Davis continues to sing for the Lord and is currently working on a gospel single, soon to be released.