Ali, Magic & Cosby to mark NAN’s 20th

Bill Cosby has accepted an invitation to keynote the April 6 anniversary dinner marking decades of community activism and leadership by Rev. Al Sharpton.

The comedian will join a star-studded list of celebrities for the 20th National Action Network’s annual, national convention and awards dinner to begin three days of serious planning for the future.

Although workshops, panel discussions, seminars and addresses during the convention will spotlight key issues related to healthcare, social justice, education and Civil Rights, celebrated names such as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Earvin “Magic” Johnson” may be the main attraction to the anniversary confab. The black-tie gala will highlight NAN’s 13th Annual Keepers of the Dream Awards, which acknowledges — in the month Dr. Martin Luther King was slain — significant individuals who “have advocated for the principles for which Dr. King died.”

At that time an impressive list of honorees will be regaled by Cosby for their distinguished contribution to the community. Regarded as the centerpiece event, the Dream awards will shine a spotlight on individuals “whose efforts could be compared to those envisioned by Dr. King when he spoke prophetically about his dream.”

During the three-day convention from April 6 to 9, hundreds of delegates representing chapters all over the country will convene at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in Manhattan where prominent leaders in civil rights, business, politics, labor, entertainment and the religious community will address issues impacting people of color.

“This will be our largest convention and I’m glad we have secured enough funds and commitments to retire much of our total debt and satisfy tax liens against National Action Network in the first quarter and work on my own, and we will announce several million dollars in commitments towards our $20 million dollar goal of a permanent House of Justice resource center and library in Harlem, New York,” the activist, preacher said.

Among this year’s recipients of NAN’s Keepers of the Dream honor: Muhammad Ali; Samuel and Latanya R. Jackson, actors and founders of the Samuel and Latanya R. Jackson Foundation; Sylvia Rhone, president, Universal Motown; Phil Griffin, president MSNBC; Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Magic Johnson Enterprises, Lee Saunders, secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO; Lamell McMorris, founder, Perennial Strategy Group, Perennial Sports and Entertainment, and Perennial Law Group; Jim Brown, NFL Hall of Famer, Amer-I-Can Foundation.

It’s Lent But “Socapalooza” Launches Jamaica Carnival

While a majority of Caribbean countries pause through the Lenten season to reflect on the Christian traditions, some Jamaicans are using the 40 days to gradually rev-up the carnival pageantry, which in previous years started on Easter Sunday. This year the island-wide fetes launched an exciting roster of high-energy events and parades that began March 25 in Negril with Socapaloza. Slated to continue until May 1, the sounds of roving soca, calypso and reggae fetes are already moving from town to town with visitors and local residents an integral aspect of “Lime All-Island Carnival.” The latter started in Kingston and will culminate with “Soca Supa Soka” on April 29.

In addition to the capital city revelry, “Soca Wukup” is headed to Bog Walk, in the parish of St. Catherine; “Soca Fusion” goes to May Pen: “Soca Mania” in the second city of Montego Bay: “Socaholics” in Ocho Rios; and “Soca Brukout” in Junction, St. Elizabeth.

There are also “Bacchanal Jamaica” parties which feature ‘soca’cise sessions’ every week for 10 weeks. “Beach Jouvert,” “Soca @ the Sandbar,” road march and “Bacchanal Jouvert” will be among popular features in Ocho Rios, Lime Cay and Kingston.

Bacchanal Jamaica is the leading mas’ band on the island. They will hold a signature event under the theme “Once Upon A Dynasty.”

“Carnival offers an exhilarating cultural experience where visitors who come for soca and calypso will also hear our reggae,” John Lynch, Director of Tourism said. “Vacationers have the opportunity to blend with local residents under Jamaica’s ‘One Love’ mantra to absorb our rich cultural heritage.”

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