Susan Taylor Celebrates 70th Birthday with a Gala Fundraiser for National Cares Mentoring Movement

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

Susan Taylor's Birthday bash cum Fundraiser, For the Love of Our Children Gala was an absolutely, undeniable, unforgettable, go down in history success.  And if you're going to turn 70, that's the way to do it.    The gala was held on Monday, January 25, t the posh 583 Park Avenue Venue.  It was packed, despite the fact that there were still snow banks around the streets of New York City as high as 4 feet tall.  It was a success despite the fact that special invited guests like Lee Daniels, and the little opera protege, Mae Ya Carter Ryan were snowed out of New York and not able to attend.


New Yorkers, New Jerseyans and Philadelphians showed up arrived in droves - despite the fact that two days prior one of the biggest blizzards had dumped the entire East Coast with snow - from Virginia to Massachusetts.

It was not just a success because the event were able to raise over $1.2 million in funds  via texted donations to support the NATIONAL CARES MENTORING MOVEMENT, the mentoring foundation and organization founded  by Susan Taylor 10 years ago, to help struggling young Black children who are trying to make their way in the world; it was also a success because it increased the awareness and elicited the commitment of so many who had heard of the organization, but now had gained a first hand understanding about the seriousness of the mission, and how they can play a major role in impacting the lives of millions of Black children across the US, with their dollars, their time, their wisdom, knowledge and their LOVE.

Susan and Khephra - Thirty Years of Love 
And, make no mistake about it, the Gala was more about love than it was anything else. You could feel it as soon as you walked into the atmosphere.  It was kind of like a "Family-Reunion-Let's-Get
-Acquainted" event, all rolled into one.  People you hadn't seen in quite some time were there to celebrate Susan's 70 "turns around the sun."   People you missed, but didn't know you did until you saw them that evening - what a wonderful time to catch up on old times, exchange updated information, and realize that we were still moving in the same wonderful concentric circles.  Others who thought they were only there to support a very worthy cause, get the benefit of a new tax deduction, do some networking and rub elbows with those they basically only see on TV, in the news and in the society page, found they were now members of a new family of friends.  The entire room was permeated with joy!

 Susan L Taylor - Editor In Chief Emerita and co-founder of Essence Magazine; founded the NATIONAL CARES MENTORING MOVEMENT in 2006, it took us a while to catch up with where she was headed.  After having lived in the limelight of the Essence Awards, and all of the celebrity opportunities that comes with being the head of the first glamor magazine for Black women, we wondered why she would step down from that to take on such a major challenge.  But then when
you go beneath the surface, to the intrinsic Susan Taylor, it's no mystery at all.  She has always been a sister who is concerned with the well being of all - anyone who read "In The Spirit" - both the book, and the messages she'd write at the beginning of each edition of Essence when she was Editor In Chief, could see that this was a logical transition - to begin a national outreach to those of us who said they wanted to do more, leading the way in which it could be done, hands on  - right in our own back yards.

No mean feat, when you think about it - because it required a major paradigm shift in the minds of those who had seen Susan as "Ms. Essence Magazine," to that of a woman on a mission:
'To secure and transform the livesof Black children by inspiring, recruiting masses of Black men and women to mentor and nourish them.  Our national volunteer affiliate network connects adults to local youth serving organizations.  Our national group mentoring programs focus on the emotional, social and academic development of our children and the wellness of the adults who parent, mentor and educate them."

The first opening minutes of the evenings event began with a collage of friends, family members and colleagues who extended birthday greetings to Susan via pre-taped messages. Susan Taylor, who actually turned 70, Saturday January 23, 2016 saw for the first time  the out pouring of love, accolades, the calvacade of well wishers, co-workers, and supporters who had the great good privilege of working with or knowing her down through the ages, and took the time to send her a video greeting was heartwarming and inspiring.

Host for the Evening - Michael Eric Dyson who kept the audience laughing the entire evening

"Never forget where you came from and praise all the bridges that carried you over - Fannie Lou Hamer (quoted by Michael Eric Dyson)."

Author, activist, minister Michael Eric Dyson , who served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening event, kept your brain simulated trying to keep up with his wonderful turn of phrases  - "Celebrating the work and accomplishments of Susan Taylor as she takes her 70th turn around the sun;" or "I mean, she finer than cat's whiskers!"   "With that chocolate elegance, with that ebony excellence did not come without extreme discipline and extraordinary work.  Susan Taylor now celebrating her 70 turn around the sun, when she was 65, she and her husband, Khephra Burns, me and my wife, Marcia, got on a bus, in New York, went to Atlantic City to see Watch The Throne Concert.  On the bus!  We saw Jay-Z and Naz!  And when Jay gets down "Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is ----- right?  She (Susan) was doing him!!

"In her 69th year, she says to her husband, a native of Compton - and we watched together, "Straight Out of Compton."   A young brother named Ice Cube from a gang called what attitude...." - spitting lyrics - that's what Susan Taylor is about.  She's not just talking about mentoring young people; she's there to pick  up their culture, so she can better understand them."   After that introduction from Michael Eric Dyson,  and a nod to Verizon, who served as corporate sponsor,  and the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, along with several others, you knew you were in for a grand evening.

There were so many wonderful accolades and high points to this event, I'm going to paraphrase them, where possible.  This is such a great moment in history it should be shared as much as possible.

Jamal Joseph - Founder/Director/ Impact Repertory Theatre

The evenings entertainment kicked off with a performance by the IMPACT REPERTORY THEATRE, founded by friend and mentor Jamal Joseph, Impact's founder and artistic executive director  - who just happened to have been seated at the same table with me.  They performed "RAISE IT UP" a song that was nominated for an Oscar from the movie "
August Rush."   They also performed it at the Academy awards (although I maintain they should have won).   Under the mentorship of Jamal Joseph, these youth use current events and their own experience to develop their material and performances; and perform for more than 25,000 people a year throughout the US - from  venues in the United Nations to federal penitentiaries.   Jamal Joseph and Susan Taylor attended high school together

Susan Taylor's backstory as a struggling single mother, who overcame the stereotpes of the meanstream to become a successful model, editor, mom, and now mentor and inspiration for so many who saw her defy the odds, rise above them, redefine them and move forward, has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands Black women.  "Rising from what John Bunyan called the slope of despond, to become the most powerful, iconic Black woman in America - in the United States of These American Nations, she became the signal, they symbol and the signifier of what Black women could achieve when they put together high intelligence and elbow grease, to make something out of their lives and existence - let's celebrate her again!"  asserted Michael enthusiastically as the audience rose once again to give her a 3 minute standing ovation.  "She is indeed our queen of Black America  And we treat her with great reverence and respect!

Jane Chu, Director of Development at CARES "This lifeline is not just a short rescue, but a foundation upon which lives are recovered, rebuilt and realized."  She extended a special thanks to Susan, without whom "none of us would be here, and whose dedication, love and commitment to young Black geniuses we celebrate tonight." 

Steven Powell, Chief Program Officer at Deacons of Defense: Thank you for allowing me to serve the children who are the most defenseless in this nation.  We recruit and train mentors and place them where there is a definite need for more Black volunteers. By deepening our commitment to advancing children in our nation  who have been most harmed, we are building transformational programs that teach our young people to be the authors of their lives so that they can enjoy emotional, social, and academic success.  in a group mentoring environment - the idea is to shift consciousness.  And when we shift consciousness, we remind ourselves that we are worthy of love, and capable of greatness.  I love you Susan. Thank you so much!"

Asha Bandele who is as passionate in person as she is in her writing

Asha Bandele: "You're so beautiful.  I will stand here and take you in for a moment."  She introduced the CARES programs that are now located in 58 cities throughout the country  Give them a round of applause - they volunteer every day!  You want a reason we have been able to recruit more than 140,000 mentors  0ver these last eight years; you want a reason that more than 250,000 children will rise tomorrow knowing that their dreams are in their reach.  The real story is in the eyes of the young people we meet each day."  Asha related how she herself had had to come to Susan in a moment of despair, when she was alone and pregnant, with no money or job.   "Susan not only employed me, but shaped me into the kind of journalist who could report on the Mandelas or Mary J. Blige.  And she thought' - a pause for the tears that righteously come when one is overcome with gratitude and grace - Bandele's husband had been deported  - "She did the one thing that not one other person ever did.  She asked me what was wrong.  And she refused to let depression derail me, or drinking drown me.  She looked at me with a heart that loved, and not a head that judged.  And because you did, I've been able to publish more books, write for the New York Times... The Buddhist remind us that one candle can light a thousand.  I have come here to night for one reason; to bear witness that One woman can light 200 thousand candles; and if you can believe that, then you know with your help ...one million by 2026 - say YES WE WILL! YES WE WILL!!!" 

The Great Cassandra Wilson - who wowed the audience with GOD BLESS THE CHILD

Cassandra Wilson's  sultry voice performed"God Bless The Child Who's Got His Own" to a rapt audience, followed by Tracie Robinson Carter, Director of South Florida CARES mentoring program,  called "The Rising" which seeks to transform the lives of their young people in the Miami-Dade areas by providing them with culturally appropriate curricula, executed by trained psychologists, wellness professionals and mentors.  The program has been installed at four challenging high schools:  Harlan High School in South Side Chicago; two schools in FT. Lauderdale, FLA,  and a teen parent program in Detroit, MI.  Their healing circles, also called wellness mental circles, whole school leadership assemblies, as well as other local cultural and social happenings have taken them from 25 participants in South Florida to over 2500 participants.

Reginald Van Lee National Cares Mentoring Movement Chairman
Alyson Williams

At the end of the program Alyson Williams, Vivian Reed and Valerie Simpson teamed up to give a fantastic rendition of I'M EVERY WOMAN!!!  Truly an anthem for Susan Taylor!

Chicago Police Officer and Cares Mentor Harold Jenkins 
Harold Jenkins, a police officer with the City of Chicago, and a mentor, spoke of how the Rising Program  has made a difference in Harlan High School, his alma mater on the South Side of Chicago.  Once a top high school, it had fallen so far down over the past 40 years, there was little of redeeming quality remaining  until the installation of the program. In the past two years, he recounted, 30 of their students had been shot - some fatally.  But, according to Officer Jenkins, for every one tragedy they suffered, 100 more had been avoided or averted as a result of the CARES program, and when we stand up for our children. "I know, because I witnessed it." he asserted.  Then he related an incident where one of the participants had actually applied the principle of healing to an incident which would have most likely engendered retataliation instead.  She burst into tears and was comforted by the other members of the group.  Had they not been there for her, she would have had to carry around the burden of the pain with her instead.  "We were able to get her some counseling; and Susan, as you know, I had to call you, because I needed some counseling myself.  The thing I learned so clearly is that even when we think our kids aren't listening, They are.  They see our apathy, but they also see our love and our care.  I mentor with Harlan High School because I want them to see with their own eyes, and feel with their own hearts, they're being paid loving attention to."

National Cares Mentoring recipient and college student Jonathan  Miller from Chicago
Jonathan Miller who graduated from Harlan High School  2014, stated:"There were some people who thought I would never be able to say that.  When I entered high school, I was a bit of a trouble maker; I didn't like school; I couldn't focus whatsoever. I didn't have any money, and my parents didn't have any either.  So I fell to hustling and tried to  make sure I had the things I needed to at least take care of myself." When The Rising came into his school, he learned that he wanted too much good in his life to allow bad things to corrupt him.    They changed his concept of what it meant to be a msn.  They treated him as though he was a leader; his grades started to improve.  Then he pulled out two pieces of paper - "This is my old report card - it has all Fs on it.  This is my report card now. and you can see that it has all As and Bs."  He is now pursuing college studies, and gaining a skill in HVAC, as well.  Has been a student since January 2015; maintains a GPA of 3.0, and "I know I'm going to get to the 4.0. I attendance rate of  95% and when I'm done I'll have my associate degree. After that I'll get my bachelor, then my master's degree.   I want to be a role model. One day I'm going to be very successful  I know what it's like to look at a bunch of people who don't have clothes on their backs, or can't even buy a meal. My goal is to make a difference. And I know that I will.  I want to thank everybody for supporting me; and I want to thank Mama Susan for her love. And last, but never least - HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA SUSAN!!"

Former Intern now Educator (and Lincoln U/PA grad) Kaity Ferguson-Shand.
"My name is Kaity Ferguson-Chan,  and I came to tell you that I was never supposed to be here.  None of you are supposed to know my name, or hear my voice. I was supposed to be in the street, pregnant or dead. That's the story of too many young people of my generation.  It could have been my story as well.  Instead, I stand before you as a teacher, a mentor and a survivor.  I didn't know love; I knew juvenile detention centers.  That's where I was fifteen years ago, when Susan Taylor came to speak to us. At the end of her talk she gave us her number.  She said to call, and I did.  I called and called and called until i reached her.   Soon she invited me to come visit here at Essence magazine."  Susan then offered her an internship at Essence Magazine. Realizing that she needed to go to college in order to get a decent job, but didn't know what to do to get into college. Because of Susan Taylor, she took a GED test and passed;  and entered Bennett College in Greensboro, NC at the age of 17.  She later transferred to LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, PA (my Alma Mater) in 2007 and got a degree in Political Science.  Then later to prove to herself she had what it takes to do it independently, got her MS in Education.  She currently teaches seventh and eighth grade English and Language Arts.  "I see myself in these girls everyday.  Sometimes I find it hard to get through to them and i want t give up and quit.  But what if Susan had given up and quit on me?  Where would I be?  On my hardest days I reflect on the consistency of Susan's love; her patience. Because Susan loved me, I believe in Love.  Because she loved me, I know what Love is.  And because she loved me, I started loving myself!"  She added, that it wasn't just the big things that made a difference, but little things like Susan calling her at 6:00AM reminding her to either pray or go to church, and the emails she sent with simple quotes that showed that she believed in her, that incrementally made the difference that has sustained her over the years.

Journalist Tamron Hall Announcing the Text to Contribute Opportunity 

Tamron Hall, national co-anchor of the Today Show's Third Hour, wearing a beautiful, sparkling "money green" cocktail dress, to announce the establishment of a phone number so that all participants could use their cell phones, noteooks, iPads to text a pledge to the number - the names and amounts were then shown on the projection scree so the audience could keep a running tab who contributed and how much.  The cellphone number would end that evening at midnight (646.791.2717)

Rev. Al Sharpton gave the invocation 
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who gave the invocation, quipped, "I'm usually called to give the provocation, not the invocation;"  and closed with  "Let us be blessed, let us be inspired and let us go forward."

 Eleven year old Michaela Williams from Brooklyn, NY regaled the audience with her brilliance in reciting from memory and entire treatise she had memorized, entitled "Born to Live, not Merely Exist," by Ms. Henry Webster, composed in a letter to then President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, February 15, 1941.  It was a letter addressed to the president about her husband, a Black man, and his difficulty getting a job.  It was movingly recited to the extent that one could almost envision the woman writing the letter, the challenges her husband faced, and even the look and demeanor of the [resident as he read it.  At the close, the writer signed off as being at Howard University, and of course all the Bisons in the house made their presence known.  Michaela exemplified high intelligence and discipline in the deliverance of her speech, indicative of participants in the Cares Mentorship Movement.

As Michael Eric Dyson so adroitly stated, it's the kind of discipline and training all of our Black youth deserve.  It's not enough to assert that Black Lives Matter - we know that all lives matter.  Of course all lives matter, too; but in America, it appears that they didn't get the message that Black lives matter.  "Your thumb is messed up - your pointer fingers may be mad because you're showing the thumb some love, because without the thumb and the finger pointing working together, you ain't got no hand, or a fist.  Then Black lives matter also, because we're in a country that doesn't recognize that.    Thank God that Susan Taylor has recognized that the lives of these young people of color matter in a society that does not acknowledge that."

Rose Stuckey Kirk, President of the Verizon Foundation, chief sponsor of the gala, who stated that Susan's work and ways shaped so much of her formative years, by providing the spiritual guidance to boldly live the life she leads.  Susan's words and work validated who she is as an African American woman - clearly a full circle moment as she and Verizon honor Susan Taylor on her 70 Sunrises.  Verizon has pledged to adopt the programs that service the most under privileged across the nation in support of the efforts of Susan Taylor's National Cares Mentoring Movement.

Michael Eric Dyson stated, in his introduction of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Brown,  recipients of the Harriet Tubman North Star Award: "Susan has taken it upon her self to move forward, to make sure that on her watch these young people will not suffer; and has been joined by other partners who have also dedicated their lives to youth, giving back and making a difference in the world.  Such a couple is Eddie and Sylvia Brown, are the recipient of the first ever National Cares Mentoring Movement Award.  They dedicated their lives to supporting young people in the community, who had been like they were, humble beginnings - their futures might not necessarily have been secure, but for the village that surrounded them.  They have dedicated their lives to ensuring that those around them may enjoy the level of preparedness that is far more secure than theirs once was.  As the young lady Michaela said, 'we don't want to just survive, we want to move beyond that.  Brown Capital Management was founded by Edward Brown, thirty years ago in Baltimore, MD;  in the midst of that war torn city.   It has assets in excess of $7.5 billion under its management!!  That's Billions B-I-L-L-I-O-N!  RIGHT??? That's BILLIONS!  They were nominated for MorningStar US Domestic Stock Fund Management of the Year Award for 2015"

Harriet Tubman North Star Award Recipients Mr. and Mrs. Eddie and Sylvia Brown 
Edward Brown, who grew up in Allentown, PA, was originally from rural Florida, born to a  mom who was 13 at the time; but raised by a grandmother who instilled the ambition to live a better life - the difference between picking cotton for a living, or living a life where you wore cotton shirts to work.  He was given a scholarship to Howard University, where he met his wife Sylvia.  He decided that he no longer wanted a job, but a career, and began to explore his options.  "I've been considered a risk taker; but I only take calculated risks."  He stated out by being the only African American account manager at T.Rowe Price. Five years later, he wanted to start his own management firm. And even though she discovered she had breast cancer, she continued to support him in his efforts to establish his own asset management corporation.  Stated Eddie, "If you're married, what is really key is a supportive spouse.  And I certainly had, from day one, a supportive spouse." 

They grew from zero in 1983 to $7,5 Billion in assets a the present time.  "We are happy, and we've helped other people be happy along the way.  When people are appreciative of what you do for them, that is the best kind of work.  You didn't just happen to get success to where you are; somebody had to help you get there - be it your parents,  a relative, a teacher or a minister - somebody has helped you to be what you are.  And it's your obligation to help somebody else!  A lot of times it's not how much you give, but that you give.  Those who have been blessed, should be a blessing to others." -- Eddie and Sylvia Brown

In accepting the award, Ms. Sylvia Brown quoted former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm: "Service to others is the rent we pay for the privilege of living.'  Your leadership, compassion to care so deeply and share your talents for the young people of our country, really personifies Shirley Chisolm's beliefs (I must add that Shirley Chisholm was a member of Delta Sigma Theda Sorority).  You, Susan have chosen our youth, our very future, to lift up, support and serve.  And that is commendable.  Maya Angelou once said, "try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud." Susan, you've done it!"

Eddie Brown, in accepting the award, stated:  "I would like to share two big thoughts.  Number one, forks in the road; number two, paths that cross.  One of the important contributions of National Cares Mentoring Movement is to help young people be better prepared to choose wisely when they reach those critical forks in the road in their own lives.  And even have someone that they can call many years later for advice when they're trying to traverse those critical forks.  Number two, paths that cross - though we had seen Susan many times over the years at many events, it was at a luncheon at their beautiful home here in New York.  The two qualities that impressed us most about Susan - her spirituality and her passion for what she is doing for the National Cares Mentoring Movement.  We had to figure out what is it about Susan that exudes this spirituality.  Beyond IN THE SPIRIT, which we've all read'; I read a little bit about spirituality.  It is said that a spiritual person's life has no artificiality, but rather a radiation of inner richness.  Susan, this is you!  The other nugget is that one cannot be spiritual without having fruits on their branches.  One is more spiritual if their fruit serve people, helping them transform their lives.  Susan, that's you!  Wherever they go, they radiate the fragrance of wisdom and beauty.  Susan that's you.  We're so grateful that our  paths crossed." 

B. Smith and Dan Gasby have dedicated themselves and committed themselves to the community; as a go to couple, they have been known for their generosity in participating in issues of importance to the Black community.  

B. stated: "Thank you for all of you who came out here tonight.  This has been a great evening; and I think we're going to have a lot more wonderful evenings.  
Dan Gasby:  "And what we want you to know is like all of the folks who have represented what the Browns have done, and what Susan and Khephra have done, we know that you have to pass the baton.  And that means those who need the most we all came from that place at one point in our lives, and we're just delighted to be here tonight to say give and care."

It has become apparent to most that Michael Eric Dyson  is as much humorist as he is documentarian; and as such, was in high gear, as he prefaced his introductions with humorous quotes, quips and anecdotes. Even khephra Burns admitted that he couldn't match Dyson's linguistic superiority.  "I just say, whatever Michael says goes double for me!"

Dyson:   "That's why they Susan Taylor is spiritual, not religious - spirituality makes religion behave right!  And that's what Susan Taylor gives to us.  That's why it's important for our community to rise up.  We have produced in our community everything we need to address - the devastation, the depression, the psychological bearing of our children.  We can help them stand up, if we would be as generous to them, as we are to ourselves!  So thank God that you didn't buy that second Mercedes this week.  Thank God you didn't buy that Shadow Rolls Royce this week.  Thank God that you didn't buy that second house.  Thank God you spent some of that weave - uh, the money - cutting weeds in your front lawn.  As B. Smith and Dan Gatsby he quipped: "they are a good looking couple, aren't they?  I love what we do when we do what we do like we do it!"

Probably the most fun of the evening was the not-so-silent-auction, presided over by none other than Roland Martin, of News One.  He commented on Susan's birthday - "Typically when you see someone still looking fine at 70, especially when it's a guy, you can say "your wife's taking real good care of you.  But you see a fine woman, y'all don't say jack about her husband.  Now put your hands together for Khephra looking fine and straight.  I do this all the time - see Khephra I always got your back, brother - so go ahead and work your magic."

While most of us are familiar with him and his persona on News commentary, we were surprised to learn that he was equally gifted as an auctioneer - if not moreso.   And apparently highly skilled in pitting bidders against each other, bringing an even greater price for an object that originally conceived.  The items that were auctioned off included:  A package Jazz at Lincoln Center, tix for four - which includes Winton Marsalis, a meet and greet afterwards - where you might to meet and greet Winton Marsalis - he might let you play his trumpet, depending on how much you give." The package sold for $1200.00.

Tina Know;es and husband Richard Lawson donated a diamond bracelet - Susan, did Tina wear the bracelet, or is it new?  (the crowd broke out in laughter). Is there any Knowles sweat on it?   Started the bidding at $500.00  The bracelet sold for $5500.   Perhaps the most fiercely bidded for were the opportunity to  meet Beyonce - that auctioned off in the high $6,000; an opportunity to do a walk on in a  Lee Daniels movie - that likewise went for approximately $6,000.  And a good time was had by all, as Roland managed to cajole and tease the bidders in to coming up with more and more dollars for a worthy cause.

Aa the  evening came to a close,  Khephra Burns, Susan's husband, shared a tender moment with the audience when he  spoke of how wonderful and dedicated she is to her mentorship program.  "It's her passion for what she's doing that first caught my attention." as he commented on how devoted she is to whatever she sets her mind to. The loving couple have been together for 30 years.  "Two minutes is not much time to pour into 30 years of love and life and inspiration.  The truth is that I am as amazed by Susan as many of you are.  But I also get to see her doubts and fears frustrations, and her resolve; and ultimately, her determination to do in spite of.  She calls it "walk on water faith."  Lot of times it just looks to me like Icarus trying to fly to close to the sun, and the wax feather wings and a water pistol..  So I just say, if that's the way you want to go down, then I'm down with you all the way.  Sometimes, you know, I just watch her when she's asleep and I'm just amazed at my luck and my good fortune.  I love how she loves us - not just me, but us!  And it's what I first loved about her. I've watched her shoot that love into a movement - linking up volunteers in 58 cities across the country trying to change the lives of Black children.  So - 70 looks good on you Baby!! "

Susan, quietly stated she was "older" than Khephra,  but then again, she looks wonderful at 70! - at any age for that matter.  She stated, "I wasn't supposed to come up with Khephra, but the hour is late, and I know you need to get home.  So, I just want to take a moment and let you settle in  my heart.  A heart that is beating with love, with gratitude,   I just feel so grateful to you all.  This work is really the work of our heart, it's the work of our lives. It's big business in Black  America.  You know.  I say, lest our feet stray from the places our God where we met Thee; lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.  We, so many of us, have forgotten.  Forgotten what our arrival cost.  A lot of us don't have roofs over our heads, a clean place to sleep. We can do this work.  We can do this.  Our challenge is to link arms and work; stop whining and complaining about the natural course of life - like the snow storm that kept Lee Daniels away. So we have the knowledge, the technology and the capacity to break the cycle of intergenerational Black poverty, and so many of our Black children are living in dream crushing pain.  The question is do  we have the will?  We're doing this tonight because I'm tired of like banging on doors saying please help our young.  And through the efforts tonight, it's taken us over a million dollars. Our efforts are transformational - and it's about transformation.  I run into so many people who say my work changed their lives, my writing changed their lives; so if I have had that a great an impact on  my watch, what I would want from you is to help the most vulnerable people on earth, and that is poor Black children.  And you've done that tonight.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!"

 They closed out the evening with a spectacular rendition of Happy Birthday, sung beautifully by Vivian Reed, who later teamed up with  Divas Valerie Simpson and Alyson Williams to close out the evening with "I'm Every Woman."

As with every event hosted or convened by Susan Taylor, no one was in any rush to leave.  There was such an atmosphere of love and generosity permeating the room, the closing song could have just as easily have been NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE.

Guests spotted at the event included Dan Gasby and B. Smith, Terrie Williams, Alyson Williams, Harry Belafonte and his wife; Hazel Dukes, President of the New York State NAACP, Alyson Williams, Gayle King, Reginald Van Lee. 

Those of you interested in contributing to, or participating in, or establishing an affiliation of National Cares Mentoring Movement in your city or community, can reach them by logging onto:

www.caresmentoring.org, or call (212) 920- 7750; or 888.999.4646

More than just a feel good event, this is, in the word of the late Maynard Jackson, Atlanta, GA's first Black mayor/activist:  It is the responsibility of every Black man, woman and child to  
"Do Good Works!"  Which, by the way is what he named his foundation - "Good Works" -  and what  we should always be about when it comes to the well being of our children and our community.

While you may have missed the Gala, the opportunity to make a difference is still very much available.  Take the time to make a difference.

PS:  Happy Birthday  Susan  - and congratulations in yet another in a long line of exemplary accomplishments!!

Stay Blessed & 
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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