KamalaHarrisBlackHistoryMonthBlack history month is celebrated in February in the United States. It is the month that coincides with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass and from it’s early start back in the mid 1920’s, it has had a focus on the teaching of the history of black Americans in the nation. So it is perhaps fitting that in the year that the United States has elected its first black vice President, Kamala Harris, that we look back to strong women in our past and I am reminded of my grandmother, Ma Ma, who endured so much.

One story that comes to mind when I think back about growing up with her is when I offered her any of my six awards to keep.  Ma Ma selected my perfect attendance award as the one she wanted.

DeRay Cole delivering keynote at Laurinburg Institute's 2017 Alumni GatheringFor most of my life, education has been a common thread. This month I had the honor to be the Keynote speaker at the Laurinburg Institute's Sixth Annual Alumni Reunion Weekend banquet. The Laurinburg Institute is the oldest African American prep school in the nation, starting in 1904. It is a private, non-sectarian preparatory school offering residential education for grades 9-12. Started by Emmanuel Monty and Tinny McDuffie on only a small piece of swamp land, it has endured for more than a century. They had a dream of providing quality education and guidance for black children. What a dream. Alumni include Dizzy Gillespie, hip hop artist Joe Budden, and a slew of basketball greats.

b2ap3 large black historyI will be the guest speaker for the Black History program at Deep Branch Elementary school on 26 February 2016.  While the event is not open to the public, it is an honor to be talking to the kids at the school. I was their age and younger when Ma Ma was teaching me the value of education.

b2ap3 large BookEmI will be joining a list of authors and other luminaries at Book 'Em North Carolina at Robeson Community College in Lumberton on 27 February 2016. I will be reading from my book Ma Ma Um Sweatin' and discussing with readers and visitors the impact of education on young lives.

BookCoverI will host an author's table at the Lumberton Arts Council show and sale on December 13, 2015 from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M. at 910 North Walnut St. Lumberton, NC. My book, Ma, Ma, Um Sweatin' and Ma, Ma's products: Jellies/jams, apron, and gift basket, will be on sale.