Back on Campus

Wayne State 2016 Homecoming Game vs. Augustana. photo: Yano Jones

“My last home game on the Cat Carpet was in November of 2001. It’s hard to believe that 15 years had gone by that fast. It was a totally different field back then.”

Massive renovations had been done to Cunningham Stadium. There is now a new track, field turf and a state of the art weight room in the stadium.

Not only was the field redone, but so was the campus. Bowen Hall was in the process of being renovated and there was beautification everywhere. Landscaping replaced driveways and parking lots. And the library received an extreme makeover. It felt great to see the progress that had been made.

Wayne played Augustana University that weekend, which traditionally has a strong program (not the team you want to schedule for homecoming). The game was close in the first half but the visiting team eventually pulled away. However, the highlight of the trip back to Wayne did not take place on the field, instead it took place in the parking lot.

Nearly 30 years of Wildcat football players got together to talk about the good ole’ days at Wayne. They tailgated, exchanged beers and memories. It was a perfect day to bring folks together. Brothers came from all over the world to ascend on the small town in northeast Nebraska; Los Angeles, Brooklyn and even Lebanon. 

There is something something special about this place. The plan is to do it again next year. It seems like a new tradition has begun. 

Omaha Rockets Kanteen

The Omaha Rockets Kanteen is a Negro Baseball League themed soul food restaurant located in historic North Omaha. This was the first meeting point of this year’s reunion weekend. There, the group had lunch and spent time catching up, while enjoying some down home Southern cooking.

Coaches Corner

Orenthian (Juice), Golden and Dion are all football coaches for respective programs in the Omaha area. Juice coaches a youth club, the Vikings. His son, “Deuce” Orenthian, Jr., is a standout player at Lewis and Clark Middle School.

Meanwhile, Dion and Golden are coaches at Concordia High School. Their time played in a nail-biter against Boys Town. It was great to see our brothers coach at such a high level.

The Power of Unity

Fox & Hound Omaha, Nebraska.

When we were in Wayne, there were very few students of color on campus. We had the Multicultural Center, M.A.C.T., the football team and a constituency of brothers and sisters from Omaha and Iowa who pretty much made-up the black and brown population on campus.

Though we had some great times at Wayne, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the rivalries and petty drama that took place between us. We did not always see eye-to-eye, like most families. We all came from different experiences and brought our baggage to Wayne. But when it was all said and done. Most of us finished and have gone on to do great things. Leo, Barry, Yano, Yamika, Orenthian, Donovan and Ashley are leaders in education. Rob is a successful builder. Jennifer, Kendall, Carlos and Mike are all successful in there respective fields of work as well.

We’re doing it! We are setting a new trend for the next generation of black and brown Wayne graduates. That’s a beautiful thing.

Haiti 2017

Wahoo Beach Resort Montrouis, Haiti. photo: http://www.takemeth3re.wordpress.

Join brothers Barry and Ashley next year on their annual reunion to the enchanted island-nation of Haiti, the first black republic in July 2017. Be on the lookout for more information in the weeks to come. Hope to see you all next year.



Ayisyen on Campus

I speak in front of people all the time, but for some reason I was a little nervous tonight. The first speaker was a young professional Haitian-American by the name of Jean Pierre-Louis. His organization  Capracare Haiti is fairly new, less than two years old. His work is familiar but not taken for granted.  He is rebuilding and changing Haiti, one step at a time. Jean’s vision is written powerfully at the bottom of his business card, mete men nou ansanm pou nou viv an santé ( promoting health change through individual acts of courage).

Then it was my turn. I had been up since five in the morning, worked a full load teaching and debating with  7th graders about whether Christopher Columbus should receive credit or acknowledgement for discovering America, when in actuality he thought he was in Asia. Furthermore, my principal decided that we are going to have professional development on Fridays; afterschool.  After a less than inspiring P.D. session, I grabbed my materials hustled out of the building, ran across the street to the local bodega, grabbed a Nutriment and hopped on the 4 train.  I was tired from a long day and a longer week. But the idea of being able to talk about two of my passions for a few minutes in front of an intimate audience at NYU gave me the surge that I needed. What an incredible way to end the work week!

So I introduced myself, loosened the stoic crowd with some of my subtle humor, and it was on. The Community2Community video was a hit as always, and I used it to bring a real connection to what we are all doing in some form or another. There is something for everyone to do and that was my message this evening. “Give a man a fish…” I’m not a fisherman, but I am teacher and a coach; educating young people is what I do. Tonight I had the esteemed privilege of educating and informing others about the great work that Community2Community has been doing.

As the evening moved on and other groups presented, you could feel the energy and passion in the room begin to emerge. After the last presentation by Artists Village, we were all on our feet, inspired, energized, ready to mix, mingle and share ideas. They had just come back from Haiti, less than a week ago with an inspiring message of love and hope. It was beautiful.

The high point of the evening for me,  was when one of my former students walked into the room with about 20 other young men. Instantly, I knew was the leader. It was powerful to see. I could see my own influence and work after eight years of teaching begin to manifest, right before my very eyes. His name is Gerald Jean-Baptiste, he was a student of mine at North Miami Beach Senior High School, where I taught for six years. He is now a senior at NYU and the president of an organization on campus called Gentlemen of Quality.

At first he did not see me, but when he did, he immediately introduced me to his group of 20 or so gentlemen and the networking exploded. They all signed the Community2Community Volunteer Sheet and have agreed to help out whenever they can. Before long the once small, quiet, stoic room, turned into a buzz of life, laughter and excitement. I am more than proud of the work that H.A.S.A. is doing. They are bringing like-minded people together to work towards one cause.

I look forward to next year’s event. It will be a testimony to the work that we are all doing. This year’s event has already done that and more. Our dreams will not be deferred, for they are being realized each day through the great efforts of our young brothers and sisters on NYU’s campus.