An open expression of gratitude for an extraordinary 15-year-old named Coco

first_imgby Vernon WilliamsThanks, Coco. We needed that.Your timing could not have been more perfect. Your youthful smile and enthusiasm is infectious. Your sensible articulation is a throwback to a time when it was common for parents to take pride in well-mannered offspring. Your incredible skills are mind-boggling, but almost incidental. There is so much about you to like.You are a soothing elixir bringing relief at a time during which Black folk are – in the words of Fannie Lou Hamer – are sick and tired of being sick and tired.CocoPeople much older are equally wowed by Coco’s amazing tennis acumen and her intellectual capacity that far exceeds her adolescence. Right now, she doesn’t fully get it. There is no way to make a 15-year-old – no matter how bright – comprehend the depth of the impact of her meteoric rise for people whose good news moments these days come far and few between.To be clear, it’s not that wonderful accomplishments are not being achieved by Black Americans of all ages from coast to coast. It’s just that the media conveniently ignores them; waiting for more sensational negativism. On the stage which Coco is rising, ignoring her ascent wasn’t an option for the press. It was Wimbledon, for God’s sake!To fully grasp the importance of this refreshing young tennis player’s “out of the blue” rise and reactions among people of color, you have to put things in context; you have to be familiar with a time when African Americans were not bombarded with the level and frequency of negative media that they experience today.While this country has never been Utopia for people of color, measuring the level of current-day stress requires application of the concept found in the title of the Les McCann song, “Compared to What?” In other words, pain and suffering are relative.There are still Black folk alive who had to pick cotton as children – or watch parents work the field. Though not slavery, the agonizing drudgery of sharecropping was a thinly-veiled incarnation of that diabolical institution.Then into the 1940s and 1950s, Black people traveling through the South couldn’t even contemplate pulling into one of the roadside hotels for a night’s rest during a weary point of a family road trip. Even Black entertainers performing to adoring crowds in hotel showrooms didn’t enjoy that accommodation.And there was a reason that Black families traveling by car always packed a hearty container of food and drinks. They knew pulling off the road into a restaurant would only bring them the frustration of “white only” signs and glares from people whose snarling expressions said they would rather starve than sup in the presence of people of color.Even entering the 60s, years after Rosa Parks, Freedom Riders were greeted by barbaric brutality by those incensed at the notion of integrating interstate transportation. As in most cases, law enforcement showed up to either participate in the beat down or arrest the bloodied victims in the aftermath. Lynching and violence were bitter realities of a hateful Jim Crow period. Some evildoers wistfully contemplate the resurrection of that horrendous spirit under the guise of returning to a “great” America.Racial affronts in 2019 affirm that mindset as Blacks witness a resurgence of those polarizing times. In media, constant reminders of glaring inequities cut like a knife, leaving viewers the choice of either to ‘grin and bear it’ or turn off disheartening news. Then came this one amazing story — for which there could be no possible negative slant.So inspired were African Americans by Coco’s feat that luminaries in their own right could not contain their enthusiasm. Coco was ecstatic to get a tweet from First Lady Michelle Obama, whom she considered her inspiration. And, there were accolades from so many others—like Magic Johnson, Jalen Smith, and Joel Embid—who compared the excitement of watching Coco play to the seventh game of an NBA championship.American tennis prodigy Cori “Coco” Gauff is the youngest player to advance through qualifying to reach Wimbledon’s main draw; where she defeated compatriot Venus Williams. The Delray Beach, Florida, resident, who’s been touted as the next Serena Williams, told an interviewer for Wimbledon, “I’m still in shock.”In subsequent matches, she proved her first win was no fluke, outplaying the competition. She has reason to feel good about herself, but Coco is confident without an ounce of cockiness. Maybe having mother and father – who also coached her – sitting in the stands was all that was required to ignite her masterful performance.Not even the ugly behaviors and “tweets” of ridiculous racists protesting the choice of a Black actress to portray the main character in the live action version of “The Little Mermaid,” could detract from the moment. The outcome of Wimbledon was secondary. Clearly, Coco emerged from the experience with a sustainable victory. She has won all our hearts.last_img read more


Black quarterbacks are changing the game in the NFL (Nov. 6)

first_imgby Aubrey Bruce, For New Pittsburgh CourierCam Newton, Patrick Mahomes, Jacoby Brissett, DeShaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Teddy Bridgewater, Kyler Murray. What do all of these names have in common? First and foremost, many are current first-string NFL quarterbacks that are changing the old, sodded, outdated definition of the standard skill set required to become and remain starting QBs. There has been and continued to be a myth that Black QBs are less than intellectual than their counterparts at the position. On Jan. 31, 1988, in San Diego, that myth should have been laid to rest because Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins became the first African American quarterback to start in and win a Super Bowl.Williams led his team to an upset 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.Williams and the Redskins obliterated the Denver defense, scoring 35 points in the second quarter, the most points ever for a single postseason quarter in National Football League (NFL) history. Williams threw four touchdowns in the first half, tying a then-Super Bowl record for most touchdowns thrown in an entire game.At that point in pro football history, African American QBs were not and are still not considered by many pundits to not be smart enough to grasp and implement complex NFL offenses. It has been perpetrated for decades that Black quarterbacks have been forced to use their legs in order to compensate for the lack of understanding simple concepts such as reading all of their progressions and being able to check in and out of plays effectively, etc, etc. By the way, they also are deficient at reading and deciphering mind-boggling NFL defenses. What? In these days and times of 4.7 and 4.8 40’s being posted by modern-day linebackers and defensive ends, a quarterback better be able to use his legs. The era of the “statue-back” is over. OGs, get used to it. Within the past quarter of a century the Pittsburgh Steelers had Kordell Stewart, Dennis Dixon and the aforementioned Josh Dobbs on their roster and except for Stewart none of them have had a legitimate shot to compete for a starting position. They also recently traded their supposedly third-tier QB Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to Ben Roethlisberger’s “disclosed injury.”That left the Steelers with Mason Rudolph as their No. 1, rookie Devlin Hodges as their No. 2 and their No. 3 guy on the depth chart, Paxton Lynch. Lynch was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. For all intents and purposes, up until this point I won’t label Mr. Lynch as a complete bust, but let’s just say that so far his career as been less than stellar.Rudolph must make up for his lack of mobility by getting rid of the ball quickly or the Steelers will have no more than a snowball’s chance in Hades to make the playoffs. It is not the job of the Steelers defense to rescue Rudolph from himself because he gets paid to do his job. All he has to do is show up, step up and do it. As far as running quarterbacks go, ask the New England Patriots who were recently dismantled and humbled by the running of the supposedly less than intellectual Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson by the score of 37-20. Ask the Patriots who they would rather face? Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph? Like us at @NewPghCourier on Twitter read more


United Way Announces Boeing as Sponsor for 2013 Loaned Executive Program

first_imgSubmitted by United Way of Thurston CountyUnited Way of Thurston County announced today that The Boeing Company will sponsor the 2013 Loaned Executive program. The program supports a temporary loaned executive position focused on strategic fundraising for United Way’s fall campaign season.“Thurston County is comprised primarily of small businesses with 50 employees or less,” said Tanya Mote, United Way of Thurston County’s development director. “It is vital for United Way to have access to additional help during the annual campaign season.” The account executive raises funds to support United Way’s Community Care Fund and 35 local nonprofit programs through engaged public speaking, community presentations, philanthropy and volunteerism. Mote adds the account executive is a major asset to the organization’s small development team responsible for covering over 200 workplace campaigns in Thurston County. Last year, the loaned executive helped raise a total of $164,050 from 60 workplace accounts.“The Loaned Executive Program is an opportunity for Boeing leaders to help make the places we call home even better, and we are pleased to collaborate with United Way,” said Elizabeth Warman, director of Global Corporate Citizenship, Northwest Region. “With a deeper understanding of our shared social challenges, we can work together to create lasting change and stronger communities.”The Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound has been a strong supporter of United Way since 1999 raising a total of $320,418. Boeing’s generous support over the years also includes $373,328 in sponsorship and corporate gifts.For more information on United Way of Thurston County, visit Facebook0Tweet0Pin0last_img read more


Olympia High Alumni Induct Distinguished Alumni

first_imgSubmitted by Olympia High School Alumni AssociationA local rock singer, a multi-agency executive and a long-time coach were named to the Olympia High School Alumni Hall of Fame at Olympia High School in a ceremony at the OHS Performing Arts Center, Monday, June 1. Inductees included George Barner, Bill Jacobs and Denny Bailey.George Barner was in the class of 1959. Barner rocked OHS in the early breakaway days of rock ’n roll. Professionally he sang in three bands covering the 1960s at venues throughout the Northwest.Among Barner’s earliest stage performance came by invitation by country music wizard Don Ulrich (OHS ’59), later known professionally as Don Rich  with the Buckaroos.Word of Barner’s talents brought invitations to share the stage with the Wailers, of “Louie Louie” origins. George soon was asked to join with a local band. His singing career included leads with the Corvettes, the Sting Rays and the Trendsetters. Barner later was the vocal spearpoint for changing the Washington State Song to “Louie Louie” which narrowly missed passage in the Washington Legislature.As a youth Barner began singing to 45 rpm records, but while still in high school, he immersed himself in the roots of rock ‘n roll as it was emerging through the 1950s. Rhythm and blues, soul, had an epicenter in Kansas City, Missouri. Barner’s family had been on vacation near Missouri when at 17 George prevailed in his appeal to be left in Kansas City, staying with a relative — long enough to learn the stagecraft studying the performance venues and music halls of Kansas City.Barner returned to the Northwest to finish high school, but he incorporated a  colorful and invigorated style into stage performances that exhilarated audiences throughout his career. Rock was considered a taboo in broadcasting in high school era . Barner wowed OHS assemblies with his rock ‘n roll performances in his last year at OHS.Barner went into public service , with 16 years as a Thurston County commissioner, and is presently is serving in his second term as a commissioner to the Port of Olympia. He is a long time community booster and was instrumental in developing the Olympia train station and transition of the Chehalis-Western Trail.Bill Jacobs (class of 1946) served as a director with the US Department of Labor under President Ford, as director for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, director for the Washington Forest Protection Association and Association of Washington Business. He served as president over the International Association of Governmental Labor Officials, and served as chief of staff to Governor Dan Evans, and the same again for US Senator Evans’ staff.Jacobs’ public affairs leadership continues today through the UW’s Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, as chairman of the Western Institutional Review Board, and as a political consultant for Northwest corporations, and non-profit organizations.He has served as president of the Providence St. Peter Health Foundation and as an executive committee member of Washington Roundtable, and as director of the Hands On Children’s Museum.  Jacobs earned the Bronze Star for meritorious service in the Korean War.Denny Bailey began teaching at Pioneer Elementary when it opened in 1969 near OHS. In 1975 he began coaching freshmen basketball at OHS. Bailey also coached boys and girls varsity soccer at OHS. His competitive coaching continues today at OHS qualifying OHS teams for state competition in tennis in all but two of the last 15 years.For eight years Bailey has run the tennis tournament for the Senior Games in Olympia. He has coached summers abroad in Sydney, Australia, and Amsterdam. Following his teaching retirement in 1999 Bailey served seven more years teaching part time at Washington Middle School.Bailey is a 1965 graduate of Shelton High School, and a 1969 graduate of Western Washington College with a degree in elementary physical education and a minor in elementary education. Facebook351Tweet0Pin0last_img read more


Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

first_imgFacebook0Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of SheltonFrank Sinatra is a Male German Shepherd Mix. He is 5 years old, is neutered and is up-to-date on his vaccinations. Frank Sinatra knows his basic commands, walks well on a leash and loves car rides.We have many great dogs and always need volunteers.  To see all our current dogs,, our Facebook at “Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton Washington” or at the shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton.  Visit us online at or contact us at or (360) 432-3091.last_img read more


Westport Winery Gold at Seattle Wine Awards

first_imgFacebook0Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Westport Winery Garden ResortWestport Winery’s Elk River Riesling earned a gold medal at the 2016 Seattle Wine Awards held in May. The grapes for this wine were grown at Red Willow Vineyards in the Yakima Valley AVA. Director of Winemaking Dana Roberts said, “This is one of the oldest most prestigious vineyards in the state and on every top ten list of Washington vineyards.” This wine is unique due to its site and history since it will often exhibit the flavor and aroma of cloves in addition to the classical Riesling profile. Swimmer Petite Sirah earned a bronze medal at this competition featuring grapes from Jones Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope.Each of Westport’s labels benefits a different local charity. A portion of the proceeds from Elk River benefits the Twin Harbors Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation while some proceeds from Swimmer are dedicated to the Grays Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center.Additionally, each wine is commemorated in the garden resort with a sculpture by a local artist. The Swimmer sculpture created by Elma artist Frank Ratte is located in the new Beauty From Ashes Garden. The Elk sculpture by Ernest Kunz of Raymond is located at the entrance to the winery’s plant nursery. The winery’s 15-acre display gardens are open to the public and free to enjoy.Westport Winery was named 2011 Washington Winery to Watch by Wine Press Northwest. They have been voted Best Winery byKing 5 Evening Magazine for six of the past eight years. They were named the Best Washington Family Business Silver Medal winners in 2012 and received the Grays Harbor Environmental Stewardship Award in 2015. Westport Winery Garden Resort is located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. The winery (including the restaurant, bakery, nursery and gardens) is open daily and offers lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.last_img read more


Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week: Taz

first_imgFacebook52Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Adopt-A-PetMeet Taz! He is a handsome, people-pleasing, 1-year-old, 49-pound Labrador Retriever/Border Collie mix who is looking for his forever and loving home. He is busy, sweet, enjoy car rides, and is eager to use his smarts to learn new things. If you can provide leadership, exercise, love, and a home where he can be the only dog, then he may be the perfect boy for you.   He would also need a securely fenced yard.   Taz is so ready to pack his bags and go home to continue growing with his lucky people. Check out his starring video to see him in action practicing his new skills in this cute video. According to shelter volunteers, he is a star.If you have further questions or would like to schedule an appointment to meet Taz in person, please contact the adoption team at Shelton Adopt-a-Pet. Emails are the preferred method of communication.Adopt-A-Pet has many great dogs and always need volunteers. To see all our current dogs, visit the Adopt-A-Pet website, our Facebook page or at the shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton. For more information, email or call 360-432-3091.last_img read more


Washington Center to Receive $10,000 Grant from the National Endowment…

first_imgFacebook66Tweet0Pin1Submitted by The Washington Center for the Performing ArtsNational Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $27 million in grants as part of the Arts Endowment’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2019.  Included in this announcement is a Challenge America grant of $10,000 to the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. Challenge America grants support projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.“The arts enhance our communities and our lives, and we look forward to seeing these projects take place throughout the country, giving Americans opportunities to learn, to create, to heal, and to celebrate,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.Jill Barnes, Executive Director of the Washington Center, says, “The importance of the NEA cannot be understated. Artists and arts organizations rely on a diverse stream of funding. This grant will expose students and youth to different cultures and explore new types of artistic expression. This is how students learn and grow, and enhances their education.”The Washington Center will use NEA funding to support their Creative Connections program, which links underserved Thurston-County students with professional touring artists. Upcoming performances with educational student programs include a private classroom Q & A with Ira Glass, and virtuoso ukulele performer Taimane on May 16. Taimane has the ability to morph genres – from classical to rock to flamenco – and stretch her instrument far beyond the familiar melodies of Hawaii, where she grew up. Gardner’s musical experience will convey to students that one can transcend expectations of what anyone, or any instrument, can and should do.The Washington Center partners with local school districts to engage Title 1 schools and K-12 students in the Olympia area as well as local institutions of higher learning. Free tickets to economically disadvantaged families will be available for the associated public performances through area service organizations.For more information on this National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit read more


Cover Up Your Neck, Dracula Is Coming To Town

first_imgBy Mary Ann BourbeauWEST LONG BRANCH – Get out the garlic and the wooden crosses. Count Dracula is making his way to Monmouth University on Feb. 11.Bram Stoker’s classic story will be performed on stage at the Pollak Theatre by L.A. Theatre Works, a nonprofit media arts organization based in Los Angeles. Its mission for the last 25 years has been to present classic and contemporary plays using a combination of audio theater and innovative technology in its productions, with intricate sound designs and on-stage special effects.“It’s like a hybrid of traditional theater and radio theater done with costumes, light and sound, but the players stand in front of microphones,” said Alexis Jacknow, who plays the character Mina. “The actors don’t interact with each other in the traditional format, so it requires the audience to engage with us and use their imagination.”In Charles Morey’s adaptation for the stage, Count Dracula makes his way to Victorian London, bringing along the native Transylvanian soil he needs for rest and protection during the daylight hours. London’s citizens are helpless against this fanged demon and his attempts to lure people – especially beautiful young women – to accompany him in his cursed existence in the life of the undead. The smart and resourceful Dr. Van Helsing attempts to find Dracula’s lair and pierce the vampire’s heart with a wooden stake in order to put an end to the carnage.The sound effects are administered in plain view so the audience can see how it’s all done. A small door is opened and closed whenever someone enters or leaves a room. The clicking of scissors mimics the sound of an old-fashioned typewriter. Celery is cracked into a microphone when Dracula breaks someone’s neck.“That’s how they used to do it back in the days of live radio plays,” Jacknow said.Jacknow’s character, Mina, is a strong female who, along with the men, is determined to rid the city of the vampire in their midst.“Dracula kills her best friend early in the show, and she makes it her mission to take this man down,” Jacknow said. “She will do whatever it takes to eradicate evil. She has energy, brains and diligence. She’s kind of a badass.”L.A. Theatre works was formed 40 years ago, and its company of actors has included John Lithgow, Paul Giamatti, Neil Patrick Harris and Annette Bening. Since the launch of its national touring company in 2005, the organization has brought live radio drama to more than 200 venues across the country.Though the horror novel was written in 1897, the story of Dracula still endures.“He’s sexy, thrilling and scary,” said Jacknow. “It’s Gothic, romantic erotica.”L.A. Theatre Works has an audio theater collection of more than 400 recorded plays that are available at public libraries and on iTunes and The company’s weekly public radio show is heard by 7 million listeners each year and is available on demand, free of charge, at“Dracula” will be staged at 7 p.m. on Feb. 11. The show is 90-minutes long with no intermission. Tickets are $38 – $58. For more information, call 732-571-3400 or visit and entertainment writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MaryAnnBourbeau.last_img read more


Bia Boro, Selkirk Eyecare capture titles as City Soccer wraps up season

first_imgBia Boro opened with a 2-1 win over Red Dog before dethroning 2012 champs Club Inter during semi final action.In the final Bia Boro held a one-goal lead before Real Nelson appeared to tie up the game.However, the game officials rule the goal was offside, which preserved the win over Bia Boro.In Finley’s Ladies Rec League, Selkirk Eyecare knocked off Lily Whites in the final 1-0.Nothing much separated the two finalists during the regular season as the two teams finished deadlocked for top spot.However, in then final Lily Whites could not get the offence in gear against Selkirk Eyecare. Bia Boro completed the run to the Jackson’s Hole Master League title by scoring a narrow 2-1 victory over Real Nelson in the final Sunday at the Lakeside Pitch.The win was the third in as many weeks for the fourth-place finisher in the regular season.last_img read more