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Black History Month: A Salute to Seniors

On Monday, February 27th, we went to the Rotunda at Cleveland City Hall to attend another Black History Month event which was titled "A Salute to Seniors" which offered a great lunch (others had meat but we enjoyed green beans and mac-n-cheese), a very deserving honoree, and, surprisingly, a lot of activity.

First of the very deserving honoree was Mr. Russell Adkins, the famed Cleveland Poet who, unfortunately couldn't join us there due to health reasons although he sent a DVD in which he read several of his poems. Ms. Mary McNamara, the Director of Cleveland's Department of Aging, said that Mr. Adkins just turned 91 years of age on Saturday and it was a pleasure for her to spend hours with him over the past two weeks. She reviewed his notable career including his founding of Free Lance, A Magazine of Poetry and Prose" which is often regarded one of the most influential avant garde poetry magazines ever and relayed his wish that hopefully those at today's luncheon would be inspired to read something today that they had never read before.

The program was presided over by Ms. Wanda Dobbins, Manager of Special Events for the Cleveland Division of Water, reminded us that Black History Month was celebrating "Cleveland Hometown Heroes" and Cleveland's senior citizens could certainly be considered heroes because "they paved the way for us."

Likewise, Mr. Blaine Griffin, Director of Cleveland's Community Relations Board, said that it was "critical that we recognize our elders."

Subsequently, during his opening prayer, Pastor Grady Stevenson, noted that seniors "have lead us on the way and have imparted their wisdom to us."

Then three people were introduced who lead those who wanted to participate in some physical activities which were a lot of fun.

First, there was was Mr. Akil Marshall, who could be dubbed a pioneer fitness coach for the NBA because he introduced new techniques to its fitness program. who lead everybody there (including ourselves) in some light aerobic exercises while cheerfully exclaiming "do it to the beat while you move your feet and don't let O-L-D come out of your mouth!!!" and "put a smile on your face and lighten up this place!" which certainly happened.

Then there was Ms. Beverly White who conducted a belly dance exercise. She told us that belly dance originated in Africa and part of the Middle East and was introduced to the United States in the late 1800's at the Chicago World's Fair. It was designed to inspire sisterhood and women often performed for each other through the years at various gatherings. Ms. White teaches at the "Cleveland Clinic Wellness Center" and has just four rules for those who want to take her belly dance classes: smile, don't compare oneself to others because one's body may be different, don't take this too seriously, and show-up for classes.

Finally, there was Ms. Elena Bailey who lead a line dance after lunch because, "all that food just needs to move" thus "we will party our way out of here!"

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC