Feature Friday: Afrika Book Café

Feature Friday: Afrika Book Café

I hope all of you had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, I visited the Afrika Book Café, located at 404 Mitchell Street in my hometown Jackson, MS.  This much needed black-owned book store is in the Fondren area and has books, African inspired jewelry, African clothing, music, incense, and oils at great prices.  I had the fortunate opportunity to talk at length with one of the store owners Dr. Sizewe Chapman, who is originally from Jackson and wants to see and help the city of Jackson grow and prosper.  After discussing economic development in Jackson, he recommended I read Black Labor, White Wealth by Claud Anderson.

Another book, The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke, caught my eye, so I purchased those two and look forward to reading them.

Now I wish I were flying back to Atlanta so I could get started!

After browsing through all Afrika Book Café has to offer, I sat on the porch with the store owners (a beautiful married couple!) and Skipp Coon and his wife (another beautiful married couple! Black love lives!).  One of the things I miss most about home is the simplicity but profundity of sitting on a porch learning from each other and talking about the world and what we can do and are doing to make it better.  Skipp, Sizewe, and I talked strategy, history, our reality, and dreams.  Sizewe, a former African history professor at Jackson State University, really inspired me to keep reading and finding historical significance and lessons as I move forward in trying to affect positive change in the black community.  Skipp, who is a rapper who speaks the truth (and someone whom you should support!), and I finished a conversation we had awhile back about colonies, and we shared stories about our experiences as blacks traveling in Europe.

Lemme tell you, my visit to Afrika Book Café is one of the highlights of my trip home.  If you’re in or near Jackson, I encourage you to check this treasure out.  It’s still a new business, so let’s make sure it stays open, serving our community by providing educational and mind-expanding resources and a space for community interaction.  Go support this small business! And while you’re at it, support Skipp Coon!

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Feature Friday: Green Building

Feature Friday: Green Building

In preparation for our New Orleans’ volunteer trip, one of my group members helped me tremendously (and graciously!) by creating a card that gives green tips in building to give to organizations and residents who may be interested.  As a Feature, I’m giving Sirobe a shout out (soon to be one of less than 300 black women architects!!) and the tips in case any of you are doing any home improvements over the holidays.

Here are a couple of the tips:

  • Since appliances and electronics are responsible for 20% of the average energy bill, it pays to make your home more energy efficient.  You could receive up to $500 in rebates or $1500 in tax credits if you purchase Energy Star appliances.  Visit www.energysavers.gov for more information!
  • If you’re moving any time soon, remember that large trees are your friend.  They can help to shade your home from direct sunlight as well as block cold winds.

If you know any one building a house or anyone who is rebuilding on the Coast (or anywhere else), send them to my page.  They can contact Reads and Reels for more information.

Hometown Hero: Lorenda Cheeks

Hometown Hero: Lorenda Cheeks

When I met Lorenda back in 2003 or 2004, her positivity was obvious and even contagious.  She’s from my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, a graduate of my alma mater, Tougaloo College, and a sorority sister from my initiation chapter, Gamma Omicron, the premiere undergraduate chapter of MS of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Lorenda’s contributions to the youth of Jackson are outstanding.  She is currently the principal of Oak Forest Elementary School, a Girl Scouts troop leader, and the founder of “It’s Hip to Be Fit,” a health and fitness program for girls.  Lorenda was recently named Jackson’s Community Champion for 2010.  She is now vying for General Mills’ Feeding Dream National Community Champion, which would result in $10,000 for Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi.

Please follow the links in this post to read more about Lorenda, then please go vote for her everyday until Oct. 31!