Friday, February 22, 2013

Wanda's Picks Friday, February 22, 2013

The continuing story of Jerri Lange, a former Chronicle reporter; SFSU professor and longtime television host whose groundbreaking broadcasting career spanned several decades.Now in her late 80s, Jerri is still exploring, most recently becoming the student of a Master Zen Buddhist priest.  This exhibit follows not only her past work but focuses on her love for Japan and her ongoing spiritual journey. Meet Ms. Lange, Sunday, February 24, 2013, 2 PM in the Koret Auditorium, Lower Level, Main Library.

Belva Davis
has been a fixture in Bay Area journalism for more than five decades. Since becoming the first black female television journalist in the West in 1964, she has covered events of local, national, and international scope; interviewed US Presidents and other world leaders; and, for the past 19 years, served as the host of KQED’s must-watch public affairs program “This Week in Northern California.”

Belva announced her retirement from broadcasting last year, and signed off the air on November 9. Join newsmakers, colleagues and friends in celebrating Belva’s historic career with a reception and a program of interviews, tributes, and surprises presided over by former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. Visit

Teri Simmons
pops into the studio to talk about the big free concert this weekend, Sunday, February 24, 2013, 4-6 p.m. at St. Paul's AME Church in Berkeley, 2024 Ashby Avenue concert this weekend Black Choreographers Festival Here and Now 9 concludes this weekend with Next Wave, new, seasoned and up and coming artists.

We are joined by Serenity, Afia Thompson and Nafi Watson-Thompson, featured choreographers this weekend. Visit

Music arranged by Teri Simmons, "His Eye is on the Sparrow/It is well with my Lord."

Ms. Lange with Buddhist Monk

Jerri Lange

Black History Month starts off at the San Francisco Public Library with a very special private collection photo exhibit, One Woman’s Spiritual Journey to the Heart, presented by Jerri Lange, one of the first African American journalists and television talk show hosts in the San Francisco Bay Area. At 88, Jerri presents beautiful photos that reveal her life’s journey here in the San Francisco Bay Area, along with moments from time spent in Kyoto, Japan, during her profound spiritual and life changing studies and experiences in 2006 under the auspices of Hoju Roshie, a Master Zen Buddhist Priest. Jerri’s passion for learning about the cultures of the world, and her love for the Japanese culture because of her experiences in Kyoto have flourished throughout the years. She uses this passion to help people, especially young African Americans and other people of color, embrace the concept that we are all connected to the same source, and that education through school, reading, researching, and traveling will tremendously enhance their lives.

On July 29, 2012, Jerri received the prestigious Living Legend Award from the renowned Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, CA. Jerri is an award winning journalist who from 1969 to 1979 hosted community-based television shows in the Bay Area on KEMO, KBHK, KGO, and KQED (where she became the first black woman to host a national talk show, Turnabout, and where she served on the Board). Jerri has interviewed world leaders and great entertainers, including Professor Arnold Toynbee, a historian from the Royal Institute of International Studies in London; Sammy Davis, Jr.; Rock Hudson, and many others. She was a professor at San Francisco State University, lectured a graduate class in communications at Stanford University, was correspondent in Africa for the San Francisco Chronicle, and was creator and publisher of the magazine, Amberstar, in Hawaii. In her book, Jerri, A Black Woman’s Life in the Media, she tells of her extraordinary experiences and how they shaped her life.

Don’t miss Jerri’s beautiful exhibit, One Woman’s Spiritual Journey to the Heart, from February 2 to May 2, 2013, at the San Francisco Public Library, The African American Center, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. You can meet Jerri at her special event on Sunday, February 24, from 2 to 4 p.m., at the San Francisco Public Library, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. There will be outstanding special guest appearances by local media, along with Haiku poetry readings, performances by exceptional Japanese and African American musicians and entertainers, and more.

Belva Davis

Belva Davis

"As the first black female TV journalist in the West, Belva Davis helped change the face and focus of TV news. Now she is sharing the story of her extraordinary life in her spellbinding memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams. As literary luminary Maya Angelou observed, 'No people can say they understand the times in which they have lived unless they have read this book.'

"It offers an unflinching account of Davis’ struggle to break into broadcast journalism at a time when stories of particular importance to African Americans and women rarely made mainstream newscasts. When news directors preposterously claimed that blacks couldn’t pronounce long words because their lips were 'too thick to enunciate properly.' When a San Francisco station manager dismissed her from a job interview by explaining that he just wasn’t 'hiring any Negresses.'

"But Davis, a young single mother struggling to raise two small children, refused to be deterred – the fact that a racist mob pummeled her with insults and trash at the 1964 GOP convention only made her more determined to persevere. And ultimately she did, rising to become one of the most respected and trusted local journalists in the country.

"One of her early viewers was Bill Cosby, who was then living on a houseboat in the Bay Area. Cosby writes in the book's foreword, 'Belva Davis was someone who sustained us, who made us proud….She was the first woman of color that many viewers came to know and trust, and she met that challenge with integrity and dignity and grace.'

"In a career spanning half a century, Davis has reported many of the most explosive stories of the era, including the Berkeley student protests, the birth of the Black Panthers, the Peoples Temple cult that ended in the mass suicides at Jonestown, the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the onset of the AIDS epidemic -- and from Africa, the terrorist attacks that first put Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. During her career, she soldiered in the trenches in the battle for racial equality, and brought stories of black Americans out of the shadows and into the light of day. And along the way, she encountered a cavalcade of cultural icons: Malcolm X, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Nancy Reagan, Huey Newton, Muhammad Ali, Alex Haley, Fidel Castro, Dianne Feinstein, Condoleezza Rice and more.

"It has been an amazing odyssey for Davis, who was born to a 15-year-old Louisiana laundress during the Great Depression. Raised in the crowded projects of Oakland, confronted by racism and abuse, Davis was destined to achieve a career beyond her imagination. She has won eight local Emmys and a number of Lifetime Achievement awards -- including honors from the International Women’s Media Foundation, the National Association of Black Journalists', and the Northern California chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences. She is profiled in the Newseum, the world’s first interactive museum of news. Davis continues to host a weekly news roundtable and special reports at KQED, one of the nation’s leading PBS stations.

"Davis also writes about her life as a volunteer supporting organizations focused on helping people improve and change their lives. She is member of Links Inc. and an Honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

'Belva Davis has lived this country’s history as only a brave black woman could and has witnessed it as a journalist with a world-class head and heart,” noted feminist leader Gloria Steinem. “I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to read her words in Never in My Wildest Dreams without becoming a better and braver person.” Her memoir, written with award-winning journalist Vicki Haddock and published by PoliPoint Press, reminds us all never to fear the space between reality and our dreams.'"

Taken from:

Teri Washington Simmons

Teri Washington Simmons, composer, arranger, pianist and organist, is a native of Oakland, California.   She was born to Clifford and Patsy Washington.  Under the care of a loving great-grandmother, Ms. Lillie Tillman, she started attending Market Street Seventh-day Adventist Church from the time she could walk.  Later she accepted Christ and was baptized into the membership of  Market Street.  She started GGA in her first grade of education and later graduated from GGA in 1975.  After graduating, she continued to further her studies at Oakwood College, Huntsville, Alabama , Laney College, Merritt College and Contra Costa College, majoring in Business Administration and Music.

Teri remembers listening to her father, Clifford, an usually gifted saxophonist, composer and arranger, during her early years and later, she accompanied him on the piano when he performed at various church functions.   She developed her musical gift at the Market Street Church, playing for early Sabbath morning Bible Study, moving on to playing for church services and for the Goldenaires, under the direction of Richard Kissling.  While in her early teens, a young promising vocalist and director, Miss Mary Cobb, took her under her wings and became her mentor, introducing Teri to a wider range of musical knowledge and skills such as classical music and the art of performing spirituals.  During this period, Teri also began her work as the musician for the Revelations, a gospel singing trio-- Betty Tipton, Eleta Cooke and Joni Hayward, and developed a relationship which lasted for over a decade.

She has been a Minister of Music for over 25 years, providing music program leadership for many churches throughout the Bay Area, the most recent is the McGee Avenue Baptist Church of Berkeley.  She attends the Elmhurst Seventh-day Adventist Church where she serves as church pianist and organist. She has been the presenter for many workshops, has traveled throughout the United States as guest organist and pianist for many choirs and artists, and has received numerous awards and certificates.  More recently she was voted as Outstanding Organist during the 1999 Bay Area Gospel Academy Awards.  In 1997 she received the coveted  ORBY Award for Professional Leadership from the Bay Area National Chapter of  Operation Reachback, an Seventh-day Adventist Black Professional Organization.

In 1988, after surviving a devastating fire which destroyed her family’s entire home and possession, she formed the singing group, “Teri Simmons With Renewed Faith.”  Under her direction and leadership, the group released their first album-length recording in 1994, “Use Me Your Way” which features original selections written and arranged by Teri.  Each selection features inspired messages drawn from Teri’s personal Christian experiences. 

In addition to accompanying others, Teri has written and published over two hundred original works.  Although she is known for her performances of contemporary and gospel music, earlier this year, Teri decided there was a definite need for quiet, soothing music, so she released a cassette tape of favorite hymns and inspirational selections.  She has been working with various singing artists in producing their professional recordings.  Ms. Shirley Graves and Ms. Betty Tipton are two of her current clients she has co-produced. 

She is married to Henry Simmons and has two children, Henry Arthur, Jr., and Cerrissa Simmons. 

•    Organist, Celestial Choir, Taylor Memorial Church, 1990 to present.  Toured with choir to Houston, Texas, Trinidad, W.I., Brooklyn, New York and North Carolina.

•    Workshop Presenter.  Composition: BAMM, Seattle, WA - 1995; Musical Styling and Selection: NAACP/NANM, Oakland, CA - 1994, Songwriting and Copyright Law: New Hope Baptist Church - 1994;   Published and produced eight collections of original music and one recording of original music, “Use Me Your Way”; 

•    Program Coordinator, Project HOPE Musicals (East Oakland Ministerial Alliance), 1984 to 1989

•    Founded “With Renewed Faith” choral group - 1988 to present; Produced and arranged CD and cassette of original works as performed by “With Renewed Faith”.  Project: “Use Me Your Way”  - Released 6/94

Black Choreographers Here and Now Friday, Feb. 22-24, 2013 presents:


By trade, Serenity is a dancer/choreographer/director and teacher. In a world of increasing disparity, she finds and creates beauty that kindles the heart and in 2002, while attending SFSU, she established SeDaCo, a dance theatre company and creating ever since. Her work has been seen at the Kennedy Center in DC, ODC/SF Pilot series as well as other performance venues in the SF Bay.

Serenity is a recent M.B.A. graduate from Lokey Graduate School of Business at Mills College in Oakland, Ca. While studying at Mills, she had the opportunity to work with Grameen Trust, a subsidiary of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, to study the Grameen model of microfinance and also led the Net Impact chapter at Mills College for two years. Serenity is currently serving as director of programs at Shinda Foundation, where the organization supports and empowers communities in Arusha Tanzania through education, technology, and learning resources so that they can become self-sufficient.  Throughout all of her experiences, Serenity draws inspiration from the local start-up community and is currently working on her own ideas which incorporate her thirst to make an impact.

Afia Thompson

Afia “BeautiFull- 1” Thompson received her acclaim 20 years ago in West African dance and has since performed nationally and internationally in other genres such as jazz, hip-hop, Lindy Hop, freestyle, and modern dance. She is constantly refining her skills and versatility as a performer through yearly conferences, workshops, and performances.  She has taught classes in the Oakland community for 15+ years to professional dancers and dance enthusiast ranging in age from 5 to 65 years old.

Afia Thompson and daughter Nafi Watson-Thompson founded Bahiya Movement in 2011.  As directors, the dynamic mother/daughter duo fuse hip-hop, jazz, modern, and African dance to create an electrifying, energitic movement that stands above the rest.

Afia’s vision for Bahiya Movement is to cross and break all barrier lines regarding body image and self-esteem through the art of dance.  Her goal is to show the world that it’s not about your body size or type that defines you as a dancer, but rather the skill, technical training, creativity and love of the art that does.

Nafi Watson-Thompson

Nafi Watson-Thompson began dancing at the tender age of three with Spelman College’s youth dance program in Atlanta, GA.   She is a well-rounded performer/ choreographer and studied West African with Diamano Coura West African Dance Company and Hip-Hop, Modern Jazz, and Ballet with Dimensions Dance Theater’s Rites of Passage program. She has worked with talented professional as Dawn James, LaTanya Tigner, Corey Action, Traci Bartlow, Carla Service and many more fabulous choreographers.  She trained with Dimensions Extensions Performance Ensemble, under the direction of LaTanya Tigner who focused on strengthening Nafi’s technique while developing her to becoming an accomplished performer.  Nafi’s time at Skyline High School with Dawn James enhanced her skills as a dancer and helped transform her into to a young woman.  Her desire to explore different types of dances, made her appreciate dance and widen her dance vocabulary. Her focus is to continue learning and perfecting her skills towards becoming an extraordinary dancer. Nafi feels that there is no room for errors or setbacks as a dancer due to injuries.  Therefore her number one focus as a dancer is to connect and stay in tune with the body.  Dancing is a big part of her life. She loves dance!  Dancing helped mold her into the young lady she is today.


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