Make A Wish ….

wishHappy Hump Day, Partners!

I am not sure about you all but we have had some of the most gorgeous full moon nights these past few days! It always seems to affect more than just the tides and stuff … like maybe people even … perhaps … even me! How about you? Monday night we experienced what was called the “Snow Full Moon”, which is equated with some of the heaviest snow falls of the winter. Granted, here in SoFlo we didn’t have any snow. Yet, we were able to see the same moon as in the rest of the continental USA, including the states that were hit hardest by the snow storms. Mother Nature still “rocks” … perhaps … harder than we know!

Growing up, do any of you remember being told: “Now … make a wish!” It was usually when a tooth had come out for whatever reason. Or, it was just before you blew out the candles on your birthday cake. How many of us remember the “wishbone” from the family meal of chicken or turkey? Did you ever break one of those? I used to take it sometimes, clean it up, then coat it with some of my mother’s clear finger nail polish, put a hole in it, and get a string to put through it and wear it around my neck for a few days … maybe a week. Isn’t it nice when someone says, “Make a wish …” and you know your chances of getting what you wished for are very great?

Here in SoFlo, on February 25th, 2013, the South Florida Make A Wish Foundation held its 20th Anniversary Event, hosted by former football great, Mike Ditka. It was a sports star “Make A Wish” event where children of the foundation got a chance to wish for something involving a sports star. One young white kid … yes, I said it for a reason … had wished for Ray Allen’s autographed basketball jersey. Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Ray’s mother and a few other family members at a HEAT vs. Celtic’s basketball game to start the NBA season. At that time, Ray was a player for the Celtics, and, courtesy of my long time friend, Armond Hill of the Celtic’s coaching staff, I was at the game sitting in the Celtic’s fans section just one row behind Ray’s mother! We smiled, exchanged glances, then I told her that I knew Armond, who had gotten the tickets for me. So this white kid got his wish … He didn’t see the color of the skin of the player, I am sure, but he did know that the guy whose jersey he wanted was probably one of the best three point shooters to ever play the game! And … he got his wish!

Last night, there were several events held commemorating the life of Trayvon Martin, an African American teen, whose life was snuffed out by a self appointed “neighborhood watch” captain. Just last night, when I listened to the “911” call again, I became so annoyed … hearing his comments about “… they always get away …”, and, then hearing the “911” operator tell him NOT to follow the youth, whom, Zimmerman described as, ” … up to something …” Well, if I were able to make a wish today, it would be that all of the “George Zimmermans” receive a change of heart from their profiling and racist beliefs … or … be removed from this Earth … Peace be still …

What would you wish for? Well, I wish that each of you have a nice day and a great rest of the week ….


John I. Cook, Director

“And The Winner Is …”

winnerHappy Monday, All!

If your weekend wasn’t good, then … perhaps you are doing something wrong. Maybe … expecting something that one shouldn’t. Well, there is another one coming up in about five days, okay?! While the weather varied from “sea to shining sea”, we had some seriously sweet warm weather here in SoFlo. Is it a wonder that people come from all over the world to visit?! The South Beach Wine and Food Festival was an obvious success. Seems there wasn’t an unhappy face in sight, from the news broadcasts, as the people enjoyed many many culinary delights.

The Daytona 500 was spectacular, for real, as there was a serious crash on Saturday and some of the spectators were injured as well as a few drivers. No casualties, however, which is a great thing. Jimmy Johnson was the winner of the “Big Event” on Sunday. While there were a lot of things to do, including a party by some friends at “Plush Illusions, LLC” with the theme of “Jungle Fever” which I was unable to attend in Miami, I stayed pretty close to home, hung out at my favorite spots and enjoyed basketball yesterday as well as an outing to the beach Sunday afternoon in between games. The beach was gorgeous … people were everywhere, traffic was moving but very slow, and everybody ” … and their mommas” were out!

While watching the HEAT game, Ray Allen, formerly of the Boston Celtics, now claiming his place on the HEAT roster as another 3-point ace, did a special on the life of one of the first African American pitchers nationally known as Satchel Paige. Leroy Robert Paige was born on July 7, 1906. He was initially a baseball enthusiast and pitcher there in Mobile, AL at the height of racial disparities between African Americans and “whites”. “Satchel”, as he came to be known, first started pitching in reform school. He made his professional debut in 1926 in the Negro Southern League, as this nation’s baseball professionals remained segregated and did not allow blacks on any teams. Paige entered the formerly segregated professional league teams in 1948 in July with the Cleveland Indians … He continued playing for another 20 years, more or less, and died in June 1982. Paige earned his nickname, Satchel, while working as a young boy at a train station because he put multiple bags on a pole to carry them to increase his already meager pay. The 6’4″ frame of Paige looked like a “satchel” tree, so, this became his new name even through his baseball career until his death in 1982.

Most of America … and the world, for that matter, enjoyed the luxurious Oscar Awards program celebrating the best movies, actresses and actors, singers, directors, writers, and so on and so on, that make the “Oscars” something that has been popular for many years here in the USA. While I watched much of it, I did notice that Quentin Tarentino’s movie, “Django:Unchained” won two awards. The movie “Lincoln”, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, also received three awards. While I am not a big movie-goer, it was nice to see that one of the movies I saw, “Django”, received awards, too. Acting isn’t an easy profession, so, I think it is special to honor this profession, including many new areas now part of the Oscar categories.

Have a great week … and be a “winner”!


John I. Cook, Director

“It’s The Weekend, Baby! Dale!”

robinrHappy Friday, All!

And if you don’t mind me saying so, “T.G.I.F.”!

One of the reasons I like living in South Florida aka “SoFlo” is all of the outdoor activities that one has the opportunity to enjoy … year round, nearly. This weekend, for example, is the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Now, mind you, I have never been … but who knows … I might get invited by an anonymous person before the weekend is out! Dale! (That is Spanish for “Do it” or “Give it!”, better yet!) Now granted, Miami has a lot of crime, too, but I don’t think many “typical” criminals will be out at this incredible feast of culinary delights to be washed down with some of the finest wines and beverages!!

An associate of mine told me that he is going to the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami on Sunday to see The Alvin Ailey Dancers perform. I haven’t seen them “live” since attending St. Paul’s School, but I know what they can do. While I have seen them on television, there is nothing like a live performance to kindle the kindred spirits of love and peace … and beauty.

Did Lindsay Lohan really think that she was going to win a trial against Pit Bull, Miami’s own home grown and bred Latino rapper, for including her name in a song he did with Ne Yo and Afro Jack that had “disparaging and defamatory statements” which she claims caused her undue stress? In addition, she claims, Pit Bull did not ask for permission to use her name. I believe for the most part that the judge said that the first amendment sets the proper footing for throwing this case out. Maybe Lindsay doesn’t know about freedom of speech … just freedom to use stuff, trash it, crash it, cut it to pieces and then claim that it was all justified!!!

Two not so cool stories erupted here in SoFlo, too. In an area of Miami, a federal aviation inspector was found dead in his home after shooting his wife and his daughter, and then turning the gun on himself. Neighbors said they seemed like the perfect family and never suspected any familial tensions that could result in something devastating like this. His wife and daughter are in critical condition. Just around the corner from me, so to speak, in Pompano Beach, FL, a baby boy of maybe 3 days of age was found near bushes close to a sidewalk near a child care center … with the umbilical cord still attached … He is now safe. Peace be still.

Well, the Good Morning America news show personality, Robin Roberts, returned to television just a few days ago after undergoing treatment for bone marrow cancer. My own father suffered from this and eventually passed away … in my arms, at home in White Plains as my sister hurried from Florida to New York with her new born son some twenty plus years ago to see him before he passed. Robin is a lot younger, her diagnosis was much sooner, and science and medicine to treat such an ailment has improved over the years. Ms. Roberts also said she had spoken with and even Skyped patients with the same illness … who didn’t make out as well as she did … Peace be still. She exhibits the gratitude of having overcome such an illness and I am sure, embraces another chance to live this gift called life.

So, whatever you do, this weekend, today … right now … enjoy the moment! Dale!


John I. Cook, Director

“Just Anotha Hump Day!”

anotha hump dayHappy Hump Day, All!

Hoping you each slept well and are having a great week so far! I mean, when I look at what’s happening all around the world …. from South Africa to Idaho … there are a lot of things going on that just make you want to go “hmmmm”, as Arsenio Hall says.

Just last year, the whole world was impressed with “Blade Runner”, the first man to qualify for and enter the Olympic Summer Games with prosthetic limbs … in this case, legs. Rumor had it that he was a South African playboy of sorts with a beautiful model girlfriend. This guy, Pistorius, was in the limelight with company like Mr. Bolt from Jamaica, the fastest man on the planet. In fact, you may remember Bolt giving Pistorius his paper number plaque from his winning run at the Games! Everyone was so proud of them BOTH! Then … the story unfolds … on the night of Valentine’s Day … the beautiful model ends up shot and eventually dies in Pistorius’ home … peace be still.

Were you ever slapped by your parent … at 19 months of age … for crying, to say the least? I mean, I grew up during a time when it was okay to physically punish ones child with a spanking. Yet, as angry as my father had occasionally gotten with me, he never slapped me in the face, and definitely NEVER spanked or slapped me at 19 months. Yet, an Idaho man sat on a plane next to a white woman, who with her husband, had adopted a cute little fair skinned African American boy, felt it was his place to call the little boy a racial slur … and then slap him in the face … while the boy whined as the airplane descended, already causing him discomfort! Did this guy drink too much, smoke some powerful marijuana and inject some powerful substance …. or is he just a racist moron? The woman said that he reeked of alcohol.

Well, it is still African American History Month, and I hope we have been able to enrich our knowledge of the contributions of African Americans to this country and the world. One of the top 10 African American inventors was Madame C.J. Walker. She was born in Louisiana in 1906 to parents who were former slaves and then took advantage of the “sharecropping system” developed in many parts of the South after slavery was abolished. Her fascination was with hair products and beauty products in general for African American women. Hats off to Madame C.J. Walker!

Have a great rest of the week with as little drama as possible.


John I. Cook, Director

President’s Day

presidentsHowdy and Good Day!

Here’s to hoping your weekends went well, once again. Here in South Florida, our temperatures dropped substantially to reflect the winters typical of the tropics. It never hangs around too long, the cold that is. So we’ve become accustomed to wearing jackets and sweaters out, like a lot of people did on Friday and Saturday nights in the downtown districts of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, for a couple of days at most and then put them away again. For the most part, my weekend went well.

In the aftermath of the President’s “State of the Union” address and Sen. Marco Rubio’s response, there have been a lot of circumstances where people, including Sen. Rubio, still seek to throw stones, so to speak, at the President without doing proper research. It seems that some of the people, including Rubio, start to believe their own lies! This is one of the reasons I do not write about political issues, not only because they change so much, but there is always something that one does not know or does not take into consideration. Yet, most people who make these comments are NOT politicians but mere “peanut gallery gatherings” looking to take a pot shot at someone whom they will never meet in their lives, or just want to make a negative comment about something or someone that their words will never ever affect anyway. Peace be still …

I did enjoy the fresh air and briskness of it this weekend. I didn’t go out to visit one of my best friends since childhood, Peter Zachary, but I did have a chance to chat with my daughter, Ayanna Lynne, who lives in Connecticut. I also enjoyed the entertainment segments of the NBA’s East vs. West All Star Game televised last night from Houston. The game itself was the typical “run and gun” style, slams and jams, as well as incredible individual performances by some of the most well known players of the game today, including Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul (MVP) and Kevin Durant. It was also Michael Jordan’s 50th Birthday and all those who know the game of basketball tipped their hats to another living legend.

Most of you are probably off from work this President’s Day, as we celebrate the accomplishments of our nation’s first president, Gen. George Washington as well as President Abraham Lincoln. While I am going to work today, since our office is open in Boca Raton, I hope that those of you who have a free day do indeed enjoy it.


John I. Cook, Director

“So, What’s The Big Deal?!”

desileneHappy Friday, All!

And yes, T.G.I.F.!!! An interesting week for me, and apparently for the nation with a manhunt for an alleged “cop killer”, and the President’s “State of the Union” address followed by Marco Rubio’s response during which a simple sip of water has almost outshone the content of his remarks!!! Sensationalism at its best! In sociology, we called it the “diverting the eye” technique!

Have you ever accomplished something in your life that took discipline, perhaps a lot of time and hard work and maybe even learning some things … things new and different even? It is a feeling of personal satisfaction as well as a feeling of belonging to a group of folks that have achieved something important in their lives. Seems that no matter how reserved one may be with ones feelings of achievement, perhaps coupled with a dose of humility, someone somewhere somehow tries to discredit what you’ve been able to do, even if it is only to start something different and important for oneself, yet positive for others. During the President’s address, he mentioned a woman who is not only African American and 102 years of age, but who also waited on line in a voting district in Florida near Miami for over three hours to vote. Some reports say six hours and others say three hours.

The next day, the Fox News Host, Brian Kilmeade commented: ” … she has no right to complain … she was happy.” Have you ever heard of that type of “logic” employed in American History before?! There were people during the slave years in this country that used to say that ” … slaves were happy and better off than if they were free …”! Now, here is a woman … yes a woman … part of a group that got their right to vote in this country in the early 1900’s. Yes, and a woman … an African American woman … whose ancestry was once enslaved in THIS same country just a generation before hers … But another Fox News host said, “What’s the big deal? She was happy … that she got to do her civic duty … she voted!” Now, I am not sure who raised this guy … or his other two cohorts, if you will, but that type of “logic” is complete ignorance of the history of TWO integral groups in this country that had been denied the right to vote until after the mid- 1900’s after many marches, lynchings and deaths! Do you think any of the Fox News team on that program will even live to be 102 years old, let alone be voting after waiting on a line over 3 hours?! What planet are these characters from?

Well, I am glad that the POTUS has enough decency and dignity to acknowledge someone during … yes DURING … his State of the Union address and make it known to all that the voting procedures in Florida need to be improved immediately. If Romney had been elected, I am sure that he would NOT have mentioned a person like Ms. Desilene Victor, nor even taken the time to know about someone like her. Yes, this is still African American History Month and I am more proud than ever to be an African American, if you will. I hope you all are staying in touch with the achievements of African Americans as they continue to occur.

Have a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

African American History Being Made

State of the UnionHappy Hump Day, All!

“There are good times, there are bad times …. but there are times … that we can talk about!” So, Mr. Dorner has gone on to meet his maker … RIP. Our “first” African American president gave his State of the Union Address last night, and, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Our world is witnessing weapons of mass destruction being made and tested as well as advancements in technology that allow us to communicate in almost any way we wish with someone on the other side of the world in seconds! We pass by each other … us humans … sometimes harboring thoughts of ill will while others seek to reach out to those in need. Interesting that this all exists under the same celestial canopy, right?!

“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” – I John 1:5 After my last e-mail about Mandela and “black men”, I received a few responses. One response was from an associate I met via a multi-level marketing opportunity. Essentially, the person stated that: “You end up your story ‘Peace’ but in [your] e-mails, there is a deep tone of [your] (beliefs, thoughts, feelings) … I will pray for your peace.” I thought it was nice, of course, that someone would pray for me. The other response was from a former yoga classmate who now runs her own studio. Her comment was: “Excellent”. These are just two responses but there was one more on the blog for EE where a former boarding school classmate mentioned that her father’s birthday was within four days of Mandela’s, and that her father – a survivor of Hitler’s Holocaust – is a man who fights for peace and justice as well. I am glad to receive any and all responses, and, if possible, I will respond with my beliefs, thoughts and feelings … in peace!

Last night, we witnessed the making of history during African American History Month. There was a Congresswoman, who had been shot in the head at nearly point blank range, standing … yes … standing and even attempting applauding when Pres. Obama talked about how folks who have lost loved ones to gun violence deserve at least a vote on gun regulations in this country. There was a 102 year old African American woman there who voted after waiting nearly 6 hours in line in Florida to vote! How historical and noteworthy …her patience and perseverance. Our president was encouraging us to do “the right thing” as he spoke from his heart. He also tackled some of the toughest issues facing our nation like taxes and employment and how to stimulate the economy. The teenager who performed at the White House several weeks back for the Inauguration and was shot and killed just a mile or so from the Obama’s house in Chicago had her parents present to support the initiative to re-examine gun laws.

When listening to Sen. Marco Rubio’s (Republican from Florida) response, it was like, as a friend of mine also posted on a social network said, he was responding to a speech … but NOT the one that the President had just made! Isn’t it interesting how two people listening to the same “conversation” can come up with two diversely different responses?! In many ways, it is human nature to disagree. Yet, when “we” may have one goal in mind … to make this world a better place, if we can … it would be helpful to set aside differences and work for the good of all humankind.

African American History has yet another event to include … President Barack H. Obama’s second term “State of the Union Address” and its success!


John I. Cook, Director

Just Released From Jail . . .


Happy Monday, All!

I know that in many parts of the Northeast, especially after talking with my daughter who lives in Connecticut, the snow storm had a tremendous presence! So, much of the weekend was apparently spent first, hunkering down at home as it is much safer to be inside than on slippery snow covered streets trying to drive a vehicle. Then of course, comes the time and energy needed to essentially dig ones way out. I remember our days growing up in the Winbrook Apartments aka “The Projects” and enjoying the snow there amongst the “The Five Units”. We had a little sleigh riding hill that was just outside of the administration office on Grove Street that was just steep enough to get a running start, drop your sled and “boogie” on down the hill there which ended just inside the wooden enclosure which bordered on Bethel Baptist Church’s location there in the PJ’s! Fun memories, not to mention the snowball fights we used to have when the snow was slightly damp and allowed for “good packing”!

Today, many African American men can say that they have had “run ins” with the law. Not only is racial profiling one of police officer’s favorite past times, it also demonstrates these law enforcement officials inability to actually do their job and “find” a real criminal. Oftentimes, the stop by a police vehicle for an African American male is a traumatic experience which has to be handled so that “he” avoids going to jail, whether he has done something wrong or not. In most cases, the people that they (law enforcement) stop are NOT the ones causing a danger to the community. But since most officers are not prepared to stop and detain real “gun toting” criminals in the areas where they already KNOW they are, they choose to stop someone in a car on a neighborhood street and try to “turn him into” a criminal with rude and unprofessional questions and behavior since their minds are already set with the profiling mechanism that “black men are criminals and belong in jail”! Jail is no fun and it is the most dehumanizing experience that a grown man can ever face. True, it is an extension of slavery for many black men who have “been there and done that”!

Well, on this day, February 11th, 1990, the living legend, Nelson Mandela, “The Father of South Africa”, was released from jail after serving 27 years in a South African prison for going against the inhumane system of “apartheid” that was omnipresent in South Africa throughout his lifetime. Mandela said that he maintained a strict regiment of eating light meals, doing exercise, though he was prohibited from listening to music, classical and folk South African music as well as choral South African music were amongst his favorites. He is said to enjoy the music of Handel or Tchaikovsky while watching the sunset in South Africa. Mandela was born on July 18th, 1918 of a father, a tribal chieftain, and a mother who is not mentioned much. He still lives today …. a living legend!


John I. Cook, Director

Bringing Us All Together

frederickHappy Friday, All!

If I might just say T.G.I.F., I hope you all share it with me. Yes, of course, it is “Black History Month”, now becoming more correctly called African American History Month, and, being one myself (African American), among other things … I take responsibility to elevate those who paved the way for me … and us, if you will. In reality, the acknowledgement that we are not really in a post racial USA … so to speak, indicates that we’ve got more work to do … together.

So, I want to start with the theme of this year’s African American History Month, though I never really knew there was a different theme every year – “At The Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and The March on Washington”. This year’s theme is a “double” theme, though I perceive three different events that fall on “important” time intervals, and combines our present situation in regards to the journey of the African American in this country with two important historical events that led to our present situation “At The Crossroads”.

This month marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (for what its worth … I mean, it got the ball rolling) as well as the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech which was at the core of the March on Washington in 1963. Where might we say we have arrived? “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality”! Much of the energy of the Civil Rights Movement spread to other groups whose rights were being infringed upon. In many ways, I suggest, it has awakened something in those of us who see the difference between “right” and “wrong” and promise not to pretend certain things are just not right, when indeed someone’s rights are being violated …. their civil right, that is. Agreed, the definition of that, a civil right, has expanded over the past few years but a catalyst to that “expansion and spread” was the Civil Rights Movement of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. This is not to take anything away from anyone, but it is proof that more of us have decided to work together.

Considering the results of that speech and the energy it spread ” … from sea to shining sea …” and beyond, credit must be given where it is due. A man put his life on the line for much of “humankind” here in the USA … and in some instances … abroad. Whether or not we all agree with everything that anyone thinks or says, which is impossible anyway, we learn to develop values like respect and tolerance that help to make our journey here a bit more “comfortable” together, if you will, and allow us to embrace acceptance, as long as it is for the betterment of all and unifying us on common themes. Granted all that may be difficult, but not only will it give us something to do, it is far better than destroying each other because of our differences.

Back in the day, there was a former “slave”, who, upon setting himself free, running away via the Underground Railroad and ending up in New York, took the name of Frederick Douglass. His story is one that if you don’t know it, you should learn about him. He had so much to do with continuing the progressive movement of the journey of African Americans in this country that it is worth studying what and how he did it. That could be your homework, if you decided that you can use it!

“I would unite with anybody to do right but with nobody to do wrong.”

– Frederick Douglas


John I. Cook, Director

“Showin’ Some Love!”

trayvonHappy Hump Day, y’all!

Once again, thanks to the love of the Universe and the Creator, we are here another mid-week to carry on with our gifts of life! Thank you! Yesterday would have been Trayvon Martin’s 18th birthday … RIP … and later this month will mark the fatal shooting of this young man by a community neighborhood watchman/vigilante. Also, it was the court date for the defense attorney’s plea to extend his preparation time for the trial that Zimmerman will inevitably face.

In the rays of Black History Month, we also find the date of the conviction of “Beckwith”, the white supremacist who shot Evers the civil rights worker in the back, falling on the same day as Trayvon’s birthday. While I was not aware of the vastness of the commemoration of Trayvon’s assassination, there are multiple events taking place in his hometown of Miami Gardens, his father’s home in Sanford, FL as well as a larger all day commemoration event in Miami with food, festivities and admission … all free … to honor the life of the teenager whose life was literally snuffed out before he (Trayvon) had a chance to begin it. When I was 17, I was graduating from boarding school due to the love that many many people had shown me, both black and white, and was entering an institution for my university studies upon receiving a scholarship and helpful work/study program. Trayvon never had that chance … peace be still.

So, in your hearts, along with the judge’s refusal to grant the defense more time, may we remember our young men – black and white – and teach them and each other the true meaning of life.

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is like a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes


John I. Cook, Director

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