To Tell The Truth ….

Happy Monday, All!

Now, today … in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, which hit the Atlantic States before the peak of hurricane season for us here in the Tropics, there is a lot of damage to be managed. There were friends on Facebook who showed photographs of trees uprooted in their yards in New York, on the news I saw swollen rivers from North Carolina, Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, even a photograph of The Bronx River Parkway connecting The Bronx to Westchester County that was welled up and the Parkway was covered in water! Power outages were in the millions for families in the North East. Yet, we were spared this time in South Florida since we got only wind and rain from the outer bands of the storm as it moved North on the Atlantic Ocean’s edge. While there were some hurricane related deaths, it seems most people were prepared as best they could . . .

I have enjoyed watching “60 Minutes” for years and enjoy their style and depth of broadcast journalism. I always wanted to get into radio and television when I graduated from Princeton after working on WPRB as a jazz disc jockey and newscaster! So, last night, they had two subjects that caught my attention. The first was Greg Mortensen, author of “Three Cups of Tea” and another book related to his travels and work in Afghanistan and areas nearby where he set up schools. His non-profit foundation has received millions of dollars in donations and monies from individuals as well as corporations to fuel his work. As “60 Minutes” uncovered his story, there were many discrepancies found, including details from his book regarding the Taliban capturing him as well as in his accounting procedures for the millions of dollars that go through his organization, Central Asia Institute. There were many many questions, some answers were uncovered in the program last night but more need to be answered by Mr. Mortensen himself.

The second subject was called “Teen Gospel Academy” out of Harlem, NY which is sponsored, created and developed by a well known New Yorker from my years enjoying radio there, Ms. Vy Higginson. This story actually brought tears to my eyes as I watched the youth of today, normally brought up in the “hip hop culture and music”, embrace and master the historically African rooted “gospel music”. Ms. Higginson’s dream has come true as she has attracted teens and parents, as well as a lot of money in donations, to help support her Gospel Academy, which is also staffed by many talented adults. Ms. Higginson’s dream is to preserve these gospel music roots, as she said, ” …. slaves were not allowed to read or write, but they could sing!” Watching the youth who come from many communities in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Manhattan, shake off drive by murders of friends and health issues in their own families, some of them being raised by grandmothers or other guardians, embrace this historically rooted art was overwhelming for me! If you get a chance, view this portion from “60 Minutes” for a real shot of telling the truth!

Have a great week!


John I. Cook, Director
Educational Excellence
ps. – Happy Birthday to local activist, author and advisor, Deon Davis, as I had a chance to attend part of her celebration with her family and friends at the Pelican Bay Resort on the beach in FTL Saturday!

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