By Nanette D. Massey

Bow ties used to be the signature of the buttoned-up, conservative look for men's clothing. Now singer Janelle Monae, OutKast's Andre 3000, and Bill Nye the Science Guy proudly sport them in a nod to a kind of ironic heresy. Today, they're everything but meant to be worn unnoticed in the back study room of some library.

Taking note of this wrinkle in fashion and riding it all the way to the bank is 11-year old Buffalo businessman Shelden Gibbs. This sixth grader is the founder and momentum behind Classic Knot where he sells, you guessed it, bow ties. Polka-dotted, printed, paisley, plaid, or just plain black, there is something for every fashion renegade on your holiday gift list at his website,

Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention. Shelden himself was a bow tie wearer for years prior. The inspiration for the business came because he "couldn't find ties in stores that was poppin'." Taking matters into his own hands, he went to his mother, Rhonda Woods, with the idea to start a business. "Oh boy...", she says, was her initial reaction. She characterizes Shelden as one who gets really psyched about a new idea in the beginning but, as is typical of kids his age, can lack long term follow through. She's got the lesson books, various shelved musical instruments, and sports team uniforms gathering dust in the back of the closet to bear out her claims. Shelden, on the other hand, describes himself by saying "I'm not afraid to try new things, even if I'm not going to be good at it."

It appears the bow tie business is going to be the one that sticks. He went on YouTube, and invested considerable time into teaching himself how to sew. Each of the ties are made by hand. Shelden estimates that he ships out between 50 to 100 units in an average week. With the holiday shopping season now upon us, he expects that number to multiply. To keep up with the orders, Shelden is blessed to have a corps of friends and family at the ready to help. He is building his brand by making appearances and setting up shop at trade shows and conventions. One such convention is taking him to Atlanta, Georgia, later this month. Still, a good 80% of Classic Knot's business is from orders sourced through the website. They come from all over the U.S., and he can remember one off the top of his head all the way from the Republic of Colombia. Locally, all three of the major network news channels have done profiles on Sheldon's business.

He's also earned shout-outs from radio station WBLK, and been given a "co-sign" by the men's high styling blog, Bringing the support he has gotten from Buffalo's Black community full circle, Shelden was instrumental in organizing the Classic Knot Back2School Jam at the end of August. The outdoor block party featured a bounce house, d.j., games and vendor's tables. The highlight of the event was the giving away of five hundred backpacks filled with children's school supplies with the coordinated help of Walmart and Say Yes to Education, Buffalo.

When not working at expanding his bow tie empire, Shelden is a steady B+ student at Tapestry Charter School. His favorite subjects are science and English language arts. Being in charge of a business has forced the eleven year old into a very grown up acquaintance with the importance of time management. High grades take priority over everything else in his household. He also plays on his school's basketball team, and blows saxophone in the 6th grade school band. With what time he has left, he is an NBA Golden State Warriors fan, and loves to follow pro wrestling.

In the future, look for Shelden behind a bench wearing a black robe and handling a gavel. "I'm going to be a bow tie-wearing judge. With more African American judges, the laws would change", he says, "and it would change how people are treated differently by their skin color." For more info about Shelden Gibbs and Classic Knots call (716) 544-8840, go to his website, or look him up on Facebook.


Omega Gents and Omega Queens, participants of the Omega Mentoring annual ball held November 24 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Buffalo. The theme of the ball was “Coming to Omega, ” A spin from the movie Coming to America. The Omega Gents and the Omega Queens performed an African themed step/hop show. The event also included performances by the African-American Cultural Center Drum and Dance Troupe. Congratulations Queens and Gents! For more information on how to learn more about the program or how to enroll your son or daughter you can check them out on facebook at or email :

CAO Names Duncan Kirkwood

New Community Crisis Specialist for Block Clubs

                                       Duncan Kirkwood 

                                       Duncan Kirkwood 

One of the responsibilities of the Community Action Organization of Western NY is to provide technical assistance to block clubs across the city. This week the CAO has added community leader Duncan Kirkwood to its team to lead this effort. In this role Kirkwood will inform area block club leaders of the availability and types of services that the CAO offers.

In addition, he will circulate written information pertinent to community needs and issues across WNY. If you are a block club leader, or are interested in starting a block club on your street, please contact Duncan Kirkwood 716-332-3773 ext. 1407 office, 716-332-1015 fax,  or by email dkirkwood@ , or 716-308-0506 cell.

He will help you with securing meeting space, securing members, and addressing issues on your street. “I am thoroughly confident in Duncan's expertise and leadership.

I am so glad he is here! I can't wait to see what he's going to do!” – Patricia Elliott, Assistant Director. “I am excited to continue to build the voice of our community by helping to support the growth of strong block clubs” said Kirkwood.

Kara J. Brown is The 2017 Carl R. Allen Memorial Scholarship Winner

Scholarship was presented duringthe scholarship luncheon forum on “Journalism in the Age of Fake News: Is the News Still for You?” Les Trent, senior correspondent for Inside Edition and a former Buffalo reporter and weekend anchor, was the keynote speaker.

  Kara J. Brown 

  Kara J. Brown 

Kara J. Brown discovered her love for writing when she won a high school essay contest. Now, as a Binghamton University senior, she also recognizes that the written word has power. Her goal as a journalist is to use that power to reshape perceptions, particularly of people of color and other marginalized populations. “The media has the power to shape the way people think. From their view of the world to their view of themselves, everyone has at some point been swayed by something they saw in the media,” says the Buffalo native.

Brown is the 2017 recipient of the $1,000 Carl R. Allen Memorial Scholarship sponsored by the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists with support from The Buffalo News and the Newspaper Guild. The award was presented during a scholarship luncheon forum on “Journalism in the Age of Fake News: Is the News Still for You?”

  Les Trent

  Les Trent

Les Trent, senior correspondent for Inside Edition and a former Buffalo reporter and weekend anchor, was the keynote speaker. Trent, who spent his formative years in Canada, has been with the nationally syndicated "Inside Edition" for the past 17 years, covering major news stories ranging from the historic election of Barack Obama to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the unrest in Ferguson and last year's presidential campaigns. During his years in Buffalo, he worked in radio at WGR-55 and WBLK, was a producer and reporter at WIVB-TV in the mid 1980s and a weekend anchor at WGRZ-TV. The scholarship luncheon was held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and also included a panel discussion and Q&A on “fake news.”

At Binghamton, Brown has been assistant editor for the arts and culture section of Pipe Dream, the student-run newspaper, and also has been student editor of Harpur Perspective, an on-campus magazine. She enjoys writing feature stories that educate and inspire by shining a light on the accomplishments of others. “We live in (such) a delightfully eclectic world that it is irresponsible for one to ignore the beauty found in diversity. Yet ignorance, discrimination and bigotry persist. The best way to convince someone of a truth isn’t by telling them – it’s by showing them,” she said in her scholarship essay.

Brown wants to use her journalistic skills as a writer and storyteller to paint those portraits, recognizing the unique perspective she brings as a female journalist of color. She also recognizes the ability of African-American journalists to tell stories that others might ignore – stories that help dispel stereotypes and provide more balanced media coverage. She wants to combine that awareness with her fluid writing style to change the way her readers view the world around them. “As a black woman, I possess a lens that is different from that of the average journalist,” Brown said. “The way I see the world and the way I feel the impact of certain events will inevitably shape the way I approach a story. I wish to use my unique perception and voice to paint a brighter, more colorful picture for the future and help unite a world divided.”

Congratulations Kara ! 

Buffalo’s Amber Simone Makes Sensational Appearance on National TV

Buffalo's amazing young vocalist Amber Simone made a sensational appearance last Wednesday (September 27) on the nationally syndicated talk show HARRY with Harry Connick, Jr. Framed as "a singing sensation," after she wowed the live audience with a song she wrote herself, Connick interviewed Amber and her mother, Shellonnee Baker Chinn.

Her story is as inspirational and amazing as her incredible talent. When Amber Simone Chinn was born, doctors told her parents she would never talk. Born with a birth defect known as craniosynostis, in which one or more of the joints between the bones of a baby’s skull close prematurely, Chinn had to have an intense procedure at only 6 months old. A true nightmare for any parent, her mother and father were even more devastated when they were told their newborn baby girl would not likely recover from the procedure. They said she wouldn’t be able to breathe on her own and in addition to likely not being able to speak. But Amber Simone didn’t just beat the odds, she completely ravaged them. And her family calls her a miracle.

Today the lovely young Buffalo native can speak perfectly and has blossomed into an extremely talented singer. In 2015 Amber was attending a friend’s graduation when she put on an impromptu performance of the song “The Worst” by Jhene Akio. She had no idea that posting a random video of her by the pool would go viral. Practically overnight, the video of this incredibly talented young woman received more than 2 million views. Also appearing on the HARRY show along with Amber and her mom, was Dr. Shirley Anain a cosmetic and plastic surgeon, who works at the CranioFacial Center at Buffalo’s Women and Children’s Hospital.

Amber, a graduate of Buffalo Seminary, is now 22 and currently attends Buffalo State College. She is also the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ivor and Shirley Baker. Video clips of Amber’s beautiful performance on national TV can be found on Facebook: #AmberSimone.

Congratulations Amber!

Trinity Bryant Wins National American Miss New York Competition

Trinity Bryant has earned the prestigious title of the 2017 National American Miss New York at the state pageant held on August 19. The daughter of Derell and LaMonica Bryant of Buffalo, New York, Trinity will be attending the National Pageant to be held in Anaheim, California at Disneyland during Thanksgiving week, representing the great state of New York, where she will have the opportunity to win her share of over $500,000 in cash and prizes!

Trinity is a recent graduate from the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts high school where she studied theatre. She currently attends the State University of New York at Fredonia with a major in Music. Since childhood, Trinity’s had an avid interest in the Arts. She could often be found watching old movies or singing along to a Roger’s and Hammerstein musical. At the tender age of 12 Trinity penned her and recorded her first single “Energy,” which garnered rave reviews and radio airplay in Western New York. Soon Trinity’s talents were seen in the locally produced film, “Thy Will Be Don” where her acting skills blossomed.

Although she plays an active role in her community by mentoring young girls and participating in various religious and civic programs, Trinity values her time spent with family and friends. It has been Trinity’s dream to be a National American Miss contestant from a young age and she cannot wait for her reign to begin and represent the great state of New York.

Trinity’s motto is: “The best thing a girl can wear is her Confidence.” Congratulations Trinity! If you would like more information or to book Trinity Bryant for interviews and appearances please contact Derell and La Monica Bryant at 716 603-4103 or email

More About The National American Miss Pageants

The National American Miss Pageants are dedicated to celebrating America’s greatness and encouraging its future leaders. Each year, the National American Miss Pageants award 1.5 Million dollars in cash, scholarships and prizes to recognize and assist the development of young women nationwide. National American Miss has added the ultimate door prize to Nationals 2017. Each girl that qualifies for the national pageant has a chance to win a new 2017 Ford Mustang Convertible.

For more details, visit National American Miss is dedicated to developing the success of young women across our nation with a program that is designed to be age-appropriate and family-oriented. Pageants are held in each star for girls ages four to eighteen in five different age divisions. The National American Miss Pageants are for “Today’s Girl” and Tomorrow’s Leaders.” The pageant program is based on inner beauty as well as poise, presentation and offers an “All American Spirit” of fun for family and friends. Emphasis is placed on the importance of gaining self-confidence, learning new skills, learning good attitudes about competition and setting and achieving personal goals.

The pageant seeks to recognize the accomplishments of each girl while encouraging her to set goals for the future. 


A Dynamic Platform For Male Mentorship At UB

Judge Craig Hannah Delivers an Empowering Speech

To The Gentlemen of Guy Talk

 Guest Speaker Judge Hannah (center left) and UB Campus Minister Marchon Hamilton II (far right rear) with some of the event attendees of Guy Talk.   photos contributed by Benjamin Blanchet 

By Deon Walker

A very inspiring, empowering and memorable event called Guy Talk was recently held at the University at Buffalo

Guy Talk is a forum of discussions created by UB Campus Ambassadors and Campus Minister Marchon Hamilton II . It’s purpose is to educate, honor and empower minority males and men of all backgrounds to succeed in society through weekly interactive sessions;  drawing upon the success of men in the past and present to inspire brilliance in the men of the future.  

The guest speaker at this event was Buffalo City Court Judge Craig Hannah. He navigated us through his life journey from humble beginnings to success. He had a rough childhood growing up in the inner city of Buffalo and said that the last thing he ever imagined was that he would one day be a judge. He received his undergraduate degree at the University at Buffalo and went on to pursue and complete his legal education from the UB Law School, demonstrating that an education from the University at Buffalo can be the beginning of a great and successful future.

Judge Hannah strongly believes in the importance of mentorship. Using his own experience as an example, he shared how on one his first jobs, it was a co-worker and mentor who exemplified the importance of professional appearance by teaching him how to tie a tie!  Judge Hannah emphasized the importance of building and keeping relationships with people at the developmental stage in our lives. He also encouraged the young men to make sure to participate in activities and surround themselves with individuals who will bring value to their lives and to be there for them. In turn, we add value to their lives as well, ultimately uplifting one another.

"I would definitely speak at an event like this again. I really appreciated the invite. This event and program shows that they have people on campus like Marchon who are committed to the whole student. Most of the time when you go to school they want you to be a student committed to class, but they don't talk to you about the other rigors in life that happen. You have stresses and other things on campus that transpire so you want to make sure you are focused and armored with all the skills that you would need to be able to handle everything correctly.You have to be grounded in faith too, because going to school and working for a profession, that is all based upon faith." Say'sJudge Hannah .

Prior to Judge Hannah’s presentation, UB Communications student Cletus Emokpae gave the audience an informative and relatable speech on networking. He explained the importance of being socially productive and making sure that relationships are created with people who will help bring one’s life to the next level while also making sure you give them a helping hand in the process.  

There was a great step performance and inspiring speech from the Christian Men of Alpha Nu Omega. The Brothers of Omega Psi Phi were in the audience bringing a strong presence to the room. Judge Hannah is also a brother of Omega Psi Phi and stressed the importance of brotherhood. Whether you are in a fraternity or not he said,  having people around you who will always have your back is a powerful tool for life.

This Guy Talk event was the finale to a semester full of influential and educational sessions and a great way to end the Spring Semester. I want to thank Marchon Hamilton II for providing young men, especially minority men, this great opportunity to learn, network and grow. It gives men like me enlightenment to a much more positive future, in a world that is so desperately pushing for us to fall into a negative one.  I can sincerely say I felt more inspired for greatness in my legal studies than I ever have been before!

For More Information on Guy Talk and how you can contribute or get involved please contact Marchon Hamilton II at 716-994-7775 or

(Deon Walker is a UB Pre-Law Student.)

The Annual Family Fishing Day! 

( Happening June 24 & 25th 2017 ) 

2017 Marks Nearly a Decade of Bringing Youth, Families and Community Together in Unity and Peace...

George Johnson, an avid fisherman with a talent for organizing community activities focused on the youth, started fishing when he was about 11 or 12 years old.

“It was one of the ways of keeping us out of trouble over the years as a youngster,” he recalled.

When he became an adult, it was his love for fishing – as well as his love and concern for the youth impacted by violence in the inner city – that led him and his friend, fellow fisherman Sam Smith, to establish Family Fishing Day in the City of Buffalo.

Johnson, the president of the community-based Buffalo United Front, which currently spearheads the event, and Smith, who heads the WNYAnglers Association, decided several years ago to take advantage of the state’sdesignated “Free Fishing Days” and take agroup of 20 or so young men from the communityto the foot of Ferry to fish and to expose them to a different environment.

It was perfect timing,” he said in reference to the establishment of thefree days. “At that time we only had some used fishing rods and were able to purchase only about 10-15 to give to the kids who didn’t have any,” recalled Johnson.     

The rest is history. 

Family Fishing Day is still going strong, as this year marks nearly a decade of bringing thousands of youth,  families and community together in unity and peace.

“After the first year we went from 20 kids and a few rods to attracting thousands last year and giving away 900 fishing rods that were purchased or donated, thanks to sponsors and companies we solicited to give us the things we needed,” said Johnson. Family fishing Day was also eventuallyexpanded from one day to two. And participants have become more diverse thanks to Buffalo’s unique and growing immigrant community.

This year the 9th Annual Family Fishing Day, willtake place June 24 and 25 at Broderick Park from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. And like years before, thousands are expected to participate.

“The fishing is just the hook to bring the kids down to have some sort of conversation with them; to offer encouragement, mentoring and to celebrate family and community,” Johnson continued.  “We have had members of the police and fire department join us. We have collaborated with the African American Cultural Center and a number of different groups to help with the educational component." He continued, "The F.A.T.H.E.R.S. Group is involved and added their toy gun exchange program; No More Tears organization makes sure all the food is serviced and the Peacemaker volunteers help with the direction of crowd control and mentoring the young man; all lending invaluable contributions to the success of the event.We're very appreciative." 

In addition, there is a veryimportant and significant   historical aspect of being at Broderick Park noted Johnson. “This park is sacred ground for African Americans,”  he said. “ It was the departure point for our ancestors who fled enslavement on the Underground Railroad, to freedom in Canada.”

Everything is free to the community. And because Family Fishing Day   is not a funded organization, it relies entirely on contributions and donations from businesses, individuals, organizations and elected officials.

“We realized after the first two years that we were going to need more money," said Johnson,  "so we decided to host a Fathers Day Fish Fry Herculean Men Awards Scholarship Banquet to help fund the Fishing Program. We always do it the weekend of the holiday to encourage and recognize those men who are doinggood things in our community.”

This year the annual banquetwill take place on Friday, June 16 from 6-9 p.m. at the Schiller Park Center, 2057 Genesee Street. Tickets are $50. The keynote speaker will be Rev. Mark Blue, President of the Buffalo NAACP. 

“When we first started we did it at Mr. Olive Baptist Church with a group of about eight men,” Johnson recalled. “Within three years we had to get a bigger place. This is our 7th year and we’re up to 30 awardees!’

The community is encouraged to get involved by attending the Awards Banquet to support Family Fishing Day or thru donations (monetary or other ways i.e. fishing rods and gear). Gifts should be   made to the Buffalo United Front Inc., P.O. Box 1306, Buffalo 14215; or to The Buffalo United Front’sheadquarters: 291 E. Delavan, Buffalo 14208. 

(For more information call 716-818-3410.)

2017 Drill Team Championship Results

For the 6th straight year, Hutch Tech High School won first place in the high school division in the annual Drill TeamChampionships& Step Show at Kleinhans Music Hall.  Twenty-one precision “high techies” showed up and showed out with a powerful performance. (Pictured on the cover).

The Guppies (6-8 year olds) always manage to steal the show no matter who “wins!” The cuties representing the Aloma D. Johnson Charter School rocked it with their “JuJu on That Beat”  dance number before exiting the stage. All of the guppies received winning medals.

Hats off to Marcus Brown, the NCYO and Drill Teams United of Buffalo and Western New Yorkand to all the young people and their coaches or another great year! All of theyoung people were winners! Following are the results of this year’s competition:

•Elementary Division - 1st place King Center Charter Women of Excellence, 2nd place Futures Academy 

•Grammar/Elementary Division - 1st place King Center Charter Minis, 2nd place Dr. Lydia T Wright School of Excellence, 3rd place Aloma D. Johnson Charter School

•High School Division- 1st place for the 6th consecutive year Hutch Tech High School, 2nd place Health Science Charter School, 3rd place Oracle Charter School

•Elementary Independent Division- 1st place The Cobra Crusaders Marching Unit, 2nd place A Little More Different 

•Junior Independent Division- 1st place The Jr. Crusaders Marching Unit, 2nd place Jr. Gospel Difference

•Senior Independent Division- 1st place Sr. Gospel Difference, 2nd place The Sr. Crusaders Marching Unit

Special Awards

•Most Outstanding- Elementary/ Dr. Lydia T Wright, High School/ Hutch Tech, Junior Independent/ The Junior Crusaders Marching Unit, Senior Independent/ Sr. Gospel Difference.

•Most Original- Elementary/ The Cobra Crusaders Marching Unit, High School/ Hutch Tech, Junior Independent/ Jr. Gospel Difference, Senior Independent/ The Sr. Crusaders Marching Uni

2017 Beautillion 

On Saturday, April 22, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated Buffalo Chapter requests the presence and support of the community to celebrate and uplift 12 honorable young kings as we honor their accomplishments and completion of the 15th Biennial Beautillion Extraordinaire Leadership Program: Brandon Barksdale, David Brown Tahir Cook, Christian Cowart, Brendon Garrett, Davon Hardy Jr., John Lane, Keith Norward, Dominik Patton, Jordon Smith, Kaleb Walker and Dorian Withrow. 

The Black Tie celebration will begin promptly at 6 p.m. at the Westin Buffalo located at 250 Delaware Avenue . 

This leadership program is designed to instill empowering tools which are necessary to approach any situation with confidence and success into young men who are juniors and seniors in high school.  Through the utilization of the community, participants will be provided diverse experiences. Beautillion Extraordinaire Leadership program members received training regarding speech, etiquette, leadership, introduction to various professions, nutrition & health education, violence & abuse, networking, fiscal management, fundraising, college preparation, self-esteem and self-image development, African history, community service experience, rites of passage ceremonies and mentorship.  Not only did each young man gain knowledge which is needed for success, but also developed friendships which will last a life time. 

This year’s ceremonial program will not only honor the accomplishments of these fine young men but the evening will also include a the formal presentation of these young men to the community;  a dramatic historical performance which pays homage to influential leaders from various time periods in African and African-American history while showcasing the talents of our beautillion participants;  a traditional mother son dance;  and the first oratorical contest finals. The program will also be filled with inspirational words by the dynamic NYS Regent, Catherine Collins, community leader Officer Armonde Badger and the Honorable Demone Smith. The evening will conclude with dancing. This evening will serve as a monumental time in these young men lives and a moving experience for all of the family, friends and community supporters in attendance.

The cost to attend this Black Tie Dinner Gala is $55 per person. The deadline for all ticket sales is Sunday April 9. All profits benefit the post collegiate pursuits of the Beautillion participants.

Should you have any questions or to purchase a ticket, please contact the Beautillion Steering Committee by calling 830-1024. 

New Era Dental 

After receiving a world class education at the prestigious Howard University in Washington, D.C. Dr. Jessica Blakely and Dr. Camille Megna-Acorlor could have gone anywhere in the country to begin their practice  But the two beautiful young Buffalo professionals decided instead to return home to fulfill their dream of becoming dental practice owners. 

Both products of the Buffalo Public School System (CityHonors) Drs. Blakely and Menga-Acorlor, who are in their 30's say they are proud to have the opportunity to invest in their hometown's future. "We're excited to bring a new level of professionalism and personal dental care to the heart of the City of Buffalo"! they said in a joint statement announcing the grand opening of New Era Dental at 2746 Main Street. 

On Friday March 24 they held a celebration kick off with free patient screening, and the next day March 25 surrounded by family friends and supporters, the official ribbon cutting ceremony took place followed by office tours, giveaways and refreshments. 

For Dr. Menga-Acorlor, the office surroundings are very familiar. She is the daughter of retired dentist professor Dr. Elaine Menga, who occupied that same building for decades. her father, Dr. Ralph Menga is a local attorney. Dr. Blakely is the daughter of Rev. D. Douglas Blakely and LaVerne Blakely of Promiseland Baptist Church. 

New Era Dental, a full service general dental practice, is now open for business, offering personalized care for the entire family. 

For more information or to make an appointment call 716 249-4999 or email them at

Girl Scouts of WNY Citywide Cookie Rally   This Weekend!

Girl Scouts of Western New York is hosting a FREE Girl Scout Citywide Cookie Rally for girls kindergarten through 12th grade in Buffalo on Saturday March 4 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at Bennett High School, 2885 Min Street.

The event will celebrate the nostalgic Girl Scout Cookie Program and 100 year anniversary of the first known sale of a cookie by a Girl Scout

Current, Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts will enjoy a fun-filled morning of interactive cookie workshops, giveaways, and learn what it means to be a Girl Scout as they engage in team-building and leadership development activities. Girls will also learn entrepreneurial skills that are central to the Cookie Program like, goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.

As an added bonus, girls will hear from keynote speaker Zandra Azariah Cunningham who is a 16 year old entrepreneur from Buffalo, NY and Juliette Girl Scout, followed by a question and answer period. Girls who bring a friend will receive a special gift and the first 35 girls to arrive will receive a cookie swag bag.

Space is limited, RSVP by calling Michelle A. Martin at 1.888.837.6410.

To learn more about Girl Scouts of Western New York, visit

“We’ve got to focus on these young people we’re burying, so we bury less and see more success!”-Bishop Darius Pridgen

Bishop Darius Pridgen and True Bethel Baptist Church prepareddinner for 200 young men and women on one late January evening  in the city of Buffalo togive them an opportunity to discuss their feelings about the senseless acts of violence occurring in our city.

“This night is for young people to come together and express their frustrations, thoughts and solutions on how we can work together to make things better in our community,” : said Bishop Pridgen. The turnout was tremendous and the give and take between youth and adult mentors was productive and encouraging. Bishop Pridgen hosted the boys and men in one area and first Lady Pridgen met withthe girls and women in another section. Bishop Pridgen said he called the gathering because he feels thattoo often “we as adults are concerned about adult interests and neglect our children.” 

He made it clear that thecallfor conversation to seek solutions was not “a Pridgen thing or a True Bethel thing,” and encouraged community churches andmosquesto have conversations with youth throughout the cityand “to focus on these young people we’re burying so we bury less and see more success!”  Aplanned “Stop the Madness Basketball Tournament” is in the works he said, details to be made available soon.  Confessing to the youth that as adults “we’ve failed you at times,” he continued, “We can’t give up hope…we’ve got so much to do!”

Buffalo Girls In Science

Winning Science Project Will be Launched Into Space Next Tuesday!

CONGRATULATIONS! Gabriella Melendez, Toriana Cornwell and Shaniylah Welch

CONGRATULATIONS! Gabriella Melendez, Toriana Cornwell and Shaniylah Welch

Gabriella Melendez, Toriana Cornwell and Shaniylah Welch were all students at Hamlin Park School #74 during the 2015-16 school year when they won the 2016 NASA Student Spaceflight Experiment. This month, their experiment will be launched to the International Space Station on the Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS 10. 

The girls’ project, titled “Tuber Growth in Microgravity,” will be tested by astronauts on the International Space seewhether a potato can sprout in a small tube inside the orbiting laboratory and survive the return to Earth for planting – a particular area of interest these days for NASA. The Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS 10 is scheduled to launch on February 14, 2017, at 11:34a.m. from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

TheScience Department will be sharing activities with middle level science teachers prior to the February 14th launch date to provide a deeper understanding of the International Space Station (ISS) and NASA’s space program.

Last Saturday the trio was amongthe students who attended   theprivate screening of the Academy Award nominated film “Hidden Figures” for more than 250 Public School students and Girl Scouts who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related education and career paths.   Also at the screening were girls who participated in last summer’s It’s Your World! Develop It! Powered by AT&T, computer coding camp, the region’s first program exclusively for girls.

In addition to Mayor Brown, Assembly member Crystal Peoples-Stokes attended the screening and encouraged girls to- like the three women profiled in the movie –follow their dreams and remember that they can do anything. She exclaimed, “Girl Power!” to the delight of the audience. 

Mayor Brown proclaimed Saturday, Feb. 4 “Girls Coding Day in Buffalo,” prior to the screening.

Emerging Philanthropists Of Color Award Inaugural Grants To Two Local Youth-Serving Organizations At Signature Event

SERVING THE YOUTH: Representatives from  Ballin for a Cause (pictured above)  and The College Simulation Experience were awarded a grant of $2,500 each

SERVING THE YOUTH: Representatives from  Ballin for a Cause (pictured above)  and The College Simulation Experience were awarded a grant of $2,500 each

The Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative’s (CGLI) new grant opportunity under the Emerging Philanthropists of Color (EPC) giving circle, announced in November two grant awards of  $2,500 each to two Western New York youth-serving nonprofit organizations including: Ballin for a Cause and The College Simulation Experience. Both organizations focus on providing services for students in Buffalo, Lackawanna and Niagara Falls that: support and promote diversity, improve educational achievement for students living in low-income communities and increase racial/ethnic equity.  

Ballin for a Cause, an organization that utilizes sports as a tool to engage youth in year-round positive programs, features four core areas in their programming efforts including: education, youth sports, health and community giving in their programming efforts.  
Lindsey Taylor is  Executive Director of Ballin for a Cause. “This grant allows us to support our new programs for 2017 and enhance our current programs,” she said.

The second organization receiving the grant called The College Simulation Experience, provides an interactive curriculum that enhances knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of college and adult life as students’ transition from high school to collegiate life.  
“As we enter our second year of programming, we’ve been afforded the opportunity to impact a total of 1,700 Western New York students to date,” said April Baskin, Executive Director of The College Simulation Experience. “For the last eight months we’ve desired to widen our curriculum and reach more students and now with the EPC grant, we are on the road to reaching our new goal.” 

The EPC presented the two grants during the CGLI’s fourth annual Pay It Forward Awards event ceremony on November 16, 2016. The CGLI’s Pay It Forward Award recognizes individuals and organizations for their commitment to cultivate positive change in the lives of trailblazing youth of color in Western New York. This year’s Pay It Forward honorees included:    Mr. Charles E. Balbach,  Ms. Tracy J. Cardwell and  Buffalo Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
For more information about the EPC program and membership details, please visit  

Aloma D. Johnson Charter School National Scholastic Chess Team

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The Eagles of Excellence National Scholastic Chess Team and Chess Club is the first officially recognized Chess program from a Charter School in the Buffalo Public School District.  Aloma D. Johnson Charter School is a Title I, charter elementary school for students in grades K to 4 located at 15 Jewett Parkway in the City of Buffalo, NY.

The K-4 chess players meet in the After School Enrichment Program three times per week from 3:45 to 5:30pm under the direction and supervision of Michael A. Mc Duffie, graduate of Geneseo State University, BS, Class of 1976, a certified United States Chess Federation Chess Coach and Tournament Director.

Each student is a member of the United States Chess Federation, the governing body of all Chess in the United States.  The yearly membership allows them to compete in sanctioned local, regional and national tournaments, which earns them a national ranking. 

The team is led by Captain Aniyah Neasman, member of the National Honor Society, violin student with the Muhammad School of Music and performs in African dance. Other members are Kenji Jones Jr., Kamara Sikes, Jim’mir Darby and Cameron Josey.  The team is training and making preparations to compete at the super national VI Scholastic Chess Championships on May 12 – 14, 2017 held at the Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN.

Coach McDuffie’s students from East High School, Charles Upson, St Gregory the Great, George Southard and Country Parkway have received special recognition from the City of Lockport Common Council, Mayor Anne McCaffrey, former Buffalo Public School District Superintendent Dr. James A. Williams and Mayor Byron W. Brown for their outstanding performance at the NY State Chess Championships, National Elementary Championships and National High School Championships.

Natania Parker Accepted Into Prestigious

American Musical and Dramatic Academy

The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (New York City)/ AMOA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts (Los Angeles) is pleased to announce that Natania Parker has been accepted for the 2016- 2017 academic year. Admission to AMDA is extremely competitive. Students come from all over the globe and are selected from auditions held in more than 35 cities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, England, Argentina, Brazil, Israel and South Korea. The full-time enrollment at the two AMDA locations is approximately 1,300 students. AMDA was founded in 1964 as a premier performing arts conservatory. With campuses on New York's Upper West Side and in the historic Hollywood district of Los Angeles, AMDA sits in the epicenter of two entertainment communities, making it uniquely suited to offer intensive full-time training and BFA programs in acting, music, theater, performing arts and dance theatre. AMDA graduates have performed in host of Broadway productions. Natania is the daughter Desiree Parker and Donald Allen of Buffalo. Congratulations Natania!

AKA Gamma Phi Omega Chapter

To Hold Biennial Debutante Pageant and Ball December 3rd


Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Gamma Phi Omega Chapter, Buffalo,  will hold   its 38th biennial Debutante Pageant and Ball,  Saturday,  December 3at   theBuffaloNiagaraConventionCenter, 153 Franklin Street.   The Pageant will be held   from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.   followed by   dinner and the ball from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m.   The theme for the 2016 pageant and ball is “Elegant and Beautiful Pearls.” The Pageant and Ball are the culminating activities for the ten months of sequential preparation and experiences for the presentation and debut of sixteen extraordinary, promising, sophisticated young ladies from the   Western New York area. 

The sixteen young ladies who will make their debut are:  Jenelle Benton, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Steven & Crystal Jenkins,  12th grade at Nardin Academy, escorted by Devin Ford; Iyanna Coleman, daughter of Leequisha Volious & the late Yusef Coleman/Stepfather Koby Volious, 11th grade at City Honors; Jensen A. Daniels, daughter of Dr. Jonathan D. and Mrs. Janessa Givens-Daniels, 12th grade at Sacred Heart, escorted by Anthony Williams; Kai Ellis, daughter of Cashmere Ellis, 11th grade at Buffalo Seminary, escorted by Keith Norward; Nia Ellis, daughter of Cashmere Ellis, 11th grade at Buffalo Seminary, escorted by Justin Evans; Courtney Harris, daughter of Angela McNeal, 12th grade at Nichols H.S., escorted by Davon Hardy; Ahmari Jenkins, daughter of Calandra Payne, 12th grade at Niagara Falls High school, escorted by John Chiarella; Dayonna Johnson, daughter of Davette Wright & James Johnson, 11th grade at Frederick L. Olmstead, escorted by Emmanuel Trueheart; Danielle Lewis, daughter of Mr. Daniel & Mrs. Kimberly Lewis, 11th grade at Mount Mercy, escorted by Devin Garey; Kennedy T. McGriff, daughter of Melaney Agahiu & Keven McGriff, 12th grade at Performing Arts, escorted by Michael Brooks; T’Najah Meeks, niece of Vanessa Jones, 12th grade at East High School, escorted by Alonzo Rodriguez-Spencer; Daneva Moncrieffe, daughter of Mr. Roan & Mrs. Dana Pryor-Moncrieffe, escorted by Jonathan Figueroa; Gabrielle Outling, daughter of Alisa Adams & Darius Outling, 12th grade at Performing Arts, escorted by Ahmad Randall; Leah M. Price, daughter of Mr. Leonard & Mrs. Carolyn Price, 11th grade at Leonardi DaVinci, escorted by Marquel Hampshire; Lilithann L. Thompson; granddaughter of Mr. Richard & 

Mrs. Nancy Thompson, 12th grade at Nichols High School, escorted by Xavier Kyle; Nyasia Wilson, daughter of Mr. Darrell & Mrs. Inderia Wilson, 11th grade at City Honors, escorted by Mickel Woodruff.

Highlights of the debutantes evening of gala will be the introduction of each debutante, the debutante’s special curtsy,  the introduction of the parents, the father-daughter dance,  the cotillion danced by the debutante and her escort,  and the special presentation by each debutante to her mother.

Many activities have preceded the 38th Debutante Pageant and Ball. Among the activities is the Rites of Passage Ceremony that was held   Friday,  November 4th   atEastHighSchool,  820 NorthamptonStreet.   This activity biennially chaired by JanetE. Barnes is an African presentation and ceremony for   the parents to name and present their daughters to the elders and community.

Other activities and their chairmen were:  Mother- Daughter Tea ( Ottilie M. Woodruff)  Father- DaughterCook-Off ( Gerri Horton) Washington, D.C.  Tour (Nancy Thompson) Etiquette( JohnnieMayo)  LeadershipDevelopment ( Tanya Staples)  Pageant( Gina Mayo –Hawk)   Sleepover (  Alisa Officer and Alicia Officer) Community Service ( Teena Jones and Carmen Snell). Mrs. Teena M. Jones and Mrs. Carmen Snell are the 2016 Debutante Co-Chairman.   Ms. Edith M. Terrell is president of Gamma Phi Omega Chapter; Ms. Sharon Bradley, vice-president.  Tickets are $55.00 and can be purchased by calling 716-235-8840.


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The Eagles of Excellence National Scholastic Chess Club at the Aloma D. Johnson Charter School, the first recognized Charter school chess club and chess team for the City of Buffalo NY, has named its November Chess Team members.  The AfterSchool Enrichment students receive chess training, chess instructions and tournament preparations from Michael A. Mc Duffie, United States Chess Federation Chess Coach

Pictured (l-r) are Jimmir Darby, Kamara Sikes, Team Captain – Aniyah Neasman, Kenji Jones, Jr. with USCF Chess Coach Michael A. Mc Duffie.  New members Jimmir and Kamara and Mariah Marks of Montessorri #32, received chess set, chess board, chess bag and tournament entry fees donated by the National Black MBA – WNY Chapter to help encourage, support and grow chess with the Archangel 8 Chess Academy students.  

The team recently participated and competed at the November Chess Open House at the Erie County Central Public Library on last Sunday and will compete in the 9th Annual Erie County Scholastic K-12 Chess Championships held on Saturday, November 19 at the Old First Ward Community Center.

Fundraising efforts are being established to help fund each player and a chaperone to compete at the 2017 National Elementary Scholastic Chess Championships in Nashville TN. Donations can be sent to the Aloma D Johnson Charter School Chess program, a 501c3 organization. Aloma D. Johnson Charter School is located on Jewett and Main Street in Buffalo NY.

If you would like to become a member or Educational Partner of the Archangel 8 Chess Academy, please check out our website, by Michael A. Mc Duffie, USCF Chess Coach)

Pleasant Making History at RIT

Andrew Pleasant Jr., a musician, songwriter and producer, started his musical career at a very young age as a member at the Colored Musicians Club on Broadway Street in Colored Musicians Club for many years. Now he’s graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology(RIT) and will be the first student that ever had a chance to go to Japan and work with Yamaha. We would like to give a special thanks to Clarence Lot and the late James Pappy Martin also to Carole McLaughlin. These were his music teachers through the years. A going to Japan Beat Band Live Concert is coming to Buffalo soon. We need all the support we can get! We are also having a fundraiser for his going to Japan trip, to give money to some local schools that have music programs. –Submitted by Andrew Pleasent III.