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In Gratitude: The March On Washington 50 Years Later

August 29, 2013

As many of you know, yesterday, August 28, 2013 marked the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington For Jobs And Freedom. This of course, was a most historic day in our country’s history when leaders of numberous organizations, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Roy Wilkins), The National Urban League (Whitney Young), Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (John Lewis), Congress on Racial Equality (James Farmer), Southern Christian Leadership Council (Dr. Martin Luther King), Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (A. Phillip Randolph), and others led hundreds of thousands to march and rally together for jobs and freedom.  It was about demanding more for Black folks.  It was a clarion call for equality, fair treatment, and advancement for everyone. 

Original March Program from

Original March Program from

I don’t have to tell you the lasting influence of the March.  I won’t carry on about laws passed (Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act) as a result of their efforts.  I will not SPEAK at length about the beautiful dream Dr. King envisioned and shared with the world that day.  Today, to my foremothers and forefathers, I simply want to say,

“Thank you.”  Read more…

“I’m Not Your Superwoman!”

August 23, 2013

 So I have this problem where I think I’m superwoman.  I am constantly convincing myself that I can achieve everything, today, without assistance.  I over-commit, under-achieve, and often feel guilty about all the things I could not accomplish at the end of the day.  Then the next day rolls around and I start the vicious cycle all over again.  **sigh**

Case in point.

It was Friday, two weeks ago, and I was planning to go into the office on Saturday morning to take advantage of the optional overtime.  Normally, that would’ve been fine, but I also had a mandatory church meeting that day, a bachelorette party to attend, and perhaps a little book writing to do…it was sure to be a full day.  So I had convinced myself that I would get to work at 7am, work until 10, head to church and be 15 minutes late for the 10 am planning meeting, drop my bookbags off at the church back to school give away, leave by noon, go back to work and stay til 3, meet my friends downtown around 3ish to hang for the bachelorette festivities, hang out late with the girls, and then get home, sleep, and be up and present at 8am church service, then head down to volunteer at a different Back To School event at 10am for 8 hours or so.  In my mind, this was totally doable.  By Friday, though, I decided not to do the bachelorette party to conserve my funds, so with that change of plans, I was certain that I could get everything done. 

Then on Saturday morning, it happened.  I overslept.  Not only did I wake up so late that I missed work at 7, but it was 9:15am!  At this point, I wasn’t even sure that I would make the church planning meeting on time.  I still needed to get dressed, do my hair, drop off my recycling (forgot to mention that above), purchase two more backpacks for the giveaway (that too), and then drive to the meeting… YIKES!!!  Where would I find the time?  And more than that, I was SUPER MAD that I had missed overtime!  SUPER. MAD.  Even though it was clear to me that my body needed the rest, I was ANGRY that it had refused to go the distance with me!  It was like a betrayal!  Lord, knows I could’ve put that extra money to good use!  But I didn’t make it to work the overtime because my body had let me down…or had it?

I’m sure I waisted another 20 minutes fuming around my house, in disbelief that I had slept so late.  Normally, I can shake things off, but this time I couldn’t. I was mad!  Really mad.  This went on for a while.  Knowing that it wouldn’t be healthy to remain this upset all day, I decided to call the one person that can calm me down and tell me “it’ll be okay” when I’ve disappointed myself–my mom.  (She’s awesome.)  But right before I dialed her number I saw this on my Facebook news feed…

Image Credit: The AJ Zone Facebook Page (A.J. Johnson)

Image Credit: The AJ Zone Facebook Page (A.J. Johnson)

Big, huge, sigh. 


Apparently, I’m Read more…

Pick Your Friends Carefully…

July 25, 2013

Hey Ari Speakers!


Image Source: FB account

Food for thought…

As my father would say…

“A word to the wise is sufficient.”


Black Man, Black Boy: This Goes Out To You, You, and Especially YOU!!!

July 19, 2013
My little cousin and I. #heisnotasuspect

My little cousin and I #heisnotasuspect

It has been a rough week in America.   Six days ago, a Florida jury found George Zimmerman, admitted killer, not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin, sending a loud and horrifying message to the world that the lives of young Black boys don’t matter, have no real value, and aren’t even worthy of justice.  That’s what hurt the most: the idea that even our children’s lives, particularly Black boys, aren’t valuable in the eyes of the law and some members of this society.  This was painful and disgusting all at once.  It was as if Zimmerman was rewarded for racially profiling Trayvon, justifying the way we stereotype Black men as suspicious, criminal, dangerous, aggressive, and violent.  There is an all out assault on the character of Black men, but I know different; I don’t know these caricatures the media paints. 

The Black men I know are everything to me.  And I thank God upon every remembrance of them.  Black man, I love you.  Black boy, I love you.  Some may not see you, but I do.  A lot of us do.  And WE thank God for you!

It’s in that spirit of gratitude that I share one of my earliest (and favorite) posts  today in honor of all the Black men who’ve helped to make me who I am and to Black men and boys everywhere.  I love you my brothers.  Stay strong.  We need you!

Check out this post!

“Loving The Men In My Life,” –Ari

Got something to say?  Holla at me!  SPEAK!!!



After Trayvon: Where the Fight For Justice Leads Us… (

Happy International Nelson Mandela Day!!!

July 18, 2013

Happy 95th Birthday to President Mandela!



Image Source: IG (@luvvie)

What a blessing to reflect on the life and work of Nelson Mandela today!  (God knows we need something positive on our minds after the week’s events.)  President Mandela was a relentless fighter for freedom and equality in South Africa, standing boldly against apartheid.  He paid the price for it, having been imprisoned for 27 years, but justice did reign at the end of the day.  And we can thank him for it!  Four years ago, the United Nations voted to honor him each year on his birthday, July 18, establishing it as International Nelson Mandela Day!

Don’t you just love that quote of his!  Let’s not settle. Let’s go for the life we truly desire.  Follow the dream!!!

What are your thoughts on Read more…

After Trayvon: Where The Fight For Justice Leads Us…

July 16, 2013
Artist Unknown

**Artist Unknown

Saturday night I was deeply hurt. I felt pain, loss, disappointment, but most of all I felt grief.  My heart was heavy as I was trying to come to terms with the fact that George Zimmerman, the man who admittedly shot 17 year-old Trayvon Martin in the chest, killing him instantly, was found not guilty on all charges: Murder in the 2nd degree, child abuse, and manslaughter.  I was in disbelief.  I still am.

In what country are grown men allowed to murder innocent children and not held responsible?

Don’t talk to me about the letter of the law.  I don’t care about any marijuana found in Trayvon’s lifeless body during the autopsy.  I couldn’t give two damns about who was screaming on the 911 tape.  For me only the proven facts remain: Zimmerman followed Trayvon because he “looked suspicious.”  He continued to pursue him after being told by the 911 operator to stop following him.  Ultimately, Zimmerman shot Trayvon and killed him.

For me, that’s all that matters.  Trayvon is dead.  An innocent, unarmed 17-year old Black boy who was minding his own damn business was shot and killed by a grown man.  And apparently in this country, that’s okay.  BUT IT’S NOT!!!

As a youth minister this case deeply disturbs me.  I help to nurture and develop young Black boys who look just like Trayvon.  They rock hoodies.  They eat skittles.  They walk with swag and confidence just like him.  They like hip hop.  They have dark skin.  Does that mean they deserve to die?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.

I have mostly questions now, and a few beginning answers:   What does this mean for my work as a youth minister?  What does this mean for the fight for justice?  Where exactly do we go from here?  How do we stand of for justice?  What are the strategies?

In my work in youth ministry, I have a responsibility to teach all my kids that their lives DO have value in the sight of God.  They matter and their lives are worth something because God created them and acted through Christ to redeem them.  Period.  Even if this country and it’s unjust justice system don’t value them, God does.  This is a critical mission, and I’m going to get it done!  Plans are already underway.


**Artist Unknown

The next question for me is how I can help fight for justice for Trayvon Martin, and millions of other Black children who are not safe in their own country.  I found several steps we can take on Clutch Magazine.  Here are a few of them and some of my own.  If you’re ready to take action, then please read on…

Read more…

Pharrell’s Wisdom And The Next Thirty…

July 8, 2013

aribdayphotoHey Ari Speakers!!!

I am officially back in my blogging groove!  Missed you guys!  Thanks for hanging with me.  I had a good time writing the “30 in 30″ series, and I hoped you all enjoyed.  Now it’s really time to reflect on what the next 30 years of my life will be like.  I am convinced that nothing just happens.  We have to make a decision, make efforts, and put in the work necessary to achieve our goals and fulfill our dreams. 

So with that in mind,  right after my 30th birthday, I decided to get refocused on my goals.   Months ago I began to pursue my dream of writing a book and started working diligently toward it, but before I knew it I had let other things (interests, projects,etc) distract me and I got so busy that I literally had to put the book aside.  Thank God, I slowly started removing those things and have now developed a new writing schedule.  I’d like to be finished writing by the end of the summer.  I started thinking that goal was way too ambitious, but then I saw this wisdom from super-producer Pharrell show up on my Facebook news feed.pharrellphoto

What do you think about this?  Is this realistic?  Or is it possible to be too ambitious?  Read more…


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