Friday, March 9, 2012
Ancestor Alert:: Louis Reyes Rivera, Donald M. Payne, Dawn Alicia Robinson Join the Ancestors
By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
This past week has been a heavy one for me. I lost three friends in four days, and I'm still reeling from the impact. And in the midst of my own angst, I am keenly aware of how much pain their own families and loved ones must be enduring at this moment. It's never easy saying good bye to someone you love, so I am taking this time to express my condolences to the families of these great friends, and to let them know that we, in the Black community, wish them comfort during these very difficult times.
My friend and soror, Brooklyn Assemblywoman Annette M. Robinson has suffered the loss of her eldest daughter, Dawn Alicia Robinson, on Sunday, March 5. Dawn was like a little sister to me in many ways. She was always sweet, comical. She spoke her mind, and had a keen eye for character. She had her mother's and brothers' backs whenever they needed anything done. I used to call her "the hostess with the most-ess" because she reigned over the barbecue and the cook outs at the Robinson family gatherings.
It's not easy writing about the passing of someone so vibrant and energetic as Dawn. We are all totally stunned by this sudden departure, without warning. It's even more difficult to see a mother as devoted and loving as Annette Robinson cope with the loss of her child. My love and condolences go out to her and the family. The comfort may be that Dawn went to keep her beloved father, Bill Robinson, company ahead of the rest of the family.
Dawn Alicia Robinson's homegoing services will be held at Bridge Street AME Church, 277 Stuyvesant Ave, at 5:00 PM. Flowers and cards, and well wishes may be sent to
Hon. Annette M. Robinson &Family;
178 Bainbridge Street,
Brooklyn, New York 11216
I am also devastated to report that our friend and brother Louis Reyes Rivera has also joined the ancestors, having made his transition on Friday, March 2. The great poet, writer, historian, educator, activist was a familiar figure throughout the Diaspora, but especially in Brooklyn, Harlem, and everywhere anything of significance in Black literature and thought was taking place.
Louis Reyes Rivera devoted his lifetime to unabashedly writing about Black and latino culture. He taught writing classes at the famed Sistas Place in Brooklyn, but was world known and loved for his love of our culture.
Louis Reyes Rivera and his lovely wife Barbara have been personal friends and associates of mine for nearly 30 years; and it's perhaps the most difficult thing to write about the passing of a friend when the wound is still so fresh. I know we all share this pain, because we all loved him for his clarity, his dedication, for the essence of what it meant to be proud to be who you are 24/7. That was Louis Reyes Rivera.
His body will lay in state at the Bell Funeral Home for viewing on Sunday, March 11, 2012 from 12:00 until 5:00PM; 536 Sterling Place, Brooklyn, NY USA. Homegoing Services will be held at Bell Funeral Home, Monday, March 12; there will be a repast at Sistas Place - 460 Nostrand Ave, later that afternoon, following the burial ceremonies.
A memorial poetry jam was held in his honor at the Brooklyn Museum, Thursday, March 8; co-hosted by Danny Simmons and Jessica Care-Moore. Some of the whose who in the hierarchy of Black performance poetry were in attendance, including Abiodun and Omar of the Last Poets, brother Ras Baraka, Liza Jessie Peterson, Kevin Powell, Willie Perdomo, Mariposa, among so many others, came out to pay tribute to this wonderful icon. Each in his or her own way imparted what they had learned from their long association with Louis Reyes Rivera, and his impact on their expression is awesome indeed. Which means that his spirit will live on in every spoken word, poem, performance piece - what a blessing!
Initially, I indicated at the beginning that there were three friends who had passed that had really knocked me for a loop. This third friend, Congressman Donald M. Payne, had been someone I had had the pleasure of knowing for over 25 years. And, like his family, friends, associates, and Co-members of the Congressional Black Caucus, I had the wind knocked out of me with the announcement of his death. Friend, he was; a true leader, devoted to his community, his constituents, to Black people the world over, especially in Africa. Don Payne took his role on the committee for Africa so to heart that he has been responsible for saving the lives of countless refugees who would otherwise have long perished had it not been for Don Payne.
I had the great good pleasure of being in his congressional district during the time I lived in Jersey City. He was one of the few elected officials that would personally return your phone call if you had an issue. Not only have we lost a great man in Congress, but Newark has lost a real leader - the first Black man to be elected to Congress from New Jersey. Not pompous, or distant - totally hands on. I have now relived mentally moments when we conversed about the educational disparities in the US and the mirror of the same problems in Africa.
Africa has lost one of its greatest advocates. They should, like us, be in mourning. At this point, his homegoing services are set for Wednesday, March 14, in Newark, NJ. Time and place have yet to be announced as of this writing.
As I always say, when my friends make their transition to the next plane of action, it must be because God the Living Spirit Almighty has determined that their work here is completed and they are needed elsewhere. However, that does not make it any less painful.
I can only say that I am so happy that I had the privilege and pleasure of knowing each one of these wonderful people and they accorded me the privilege of calling them "friend." I will miss them; but there are so many wonderful things I can reflect back on that likewise let me know they have made an indelible imprint on my heart and soul.
STAY BLESSED &