By Carmen Glover
The line to enter New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center for the WBLS-sponsored Circle of Sisters Expo on Saturday, October 19, wrapped into a giant circle as eager attendees peered around, impatient to enter the convention hall. But once the line began to move and people started entering the coveted area, the energy, excitement and anticipation were palpable. The event did not disappoint, from vendors promoting products to celebrities and WBLS personalities mingling with fans, Circle of Sisters was off to a promising start.
WBLS News Director Ann Tripp gave insight into current news stories while she waited for the panelists to get settled. Then the parade to the podium began and included Norman Seabrook, president of the Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association, Inc (COBA), Ken Thompson, Democratic nominee for Brooklyn’s District Attorney office, WBLS Vice President and General Manager Deon Livingston and Newark Mayor/Senator-elect Cory Booker. “
Booker was engaging as he shared lessons he learned from his father as well as his plans to “make change” when he goes to Washington as New Jersey’s Senator. “I’m looking forward to going to the Senate to talk about our issues that don’t usually get discussed there,’ he said passionately, while observing that “The power of the people is always greater than the people in power.” He left the stage to sustained applause. Afterward, Reverend Al Sharpton discussed his new book with award-winning journalist Ed Gordon while Gospel singer Yolanda Adams talked about healthy living.
Among the topics tackled were “It’s your money: Learn how to spend and save it,” “Now It’s time to own your own home,” “The state of Black America,” “Black Men Revealed,” “Book signing and chat with Rev, Al. Sharpton and the Honorable David N. Dinkins. But the highlights of the day were delivered by Iyanla Vanzant, Steve Harvey, and the panelists for “The State of Black America,” and “Black Men Revealed.”
The panel on “The State of Black America,” moderated by Gordon, featured Georgetown University Sociology Professor Michael Eric Dyson, TV One’s “Washington Watch” host Roland Martin, Journalist Keli Goff and Seabrook, who seemed out of touch when he bashed the relevance of social media. Dyson stressed the importance of leveraging political clout and community strength to “do for ourselves instead of asking folks to do for us.” Goff appealed to the attendees to support the movie “12 Years a Slave,” describing it as the “most accurate depiction of slavery” that she has ever seen because it “shows the psychological impact of slavery.”
Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, who has appeared in “The Wire” and “Taking of Pelham 123,” nearly incited a riot with his brazen thoughts about relationships while joining singer Eric Benet, journalist T. J. Holmes and radio personality Lenny Green on the “Black Men Revealed,’ panel, which was moderated in dramatic style by singer/reality star Tamar Braxton. “ A woman has to try to get my attention and she will know I’m interested if I speak to her for more than five minutes on the telephone,” Akinnagbe said boldly.
When a female from the crowd took him to task he asked her if she were single then said “I’m not surprised,” when she said yes. At that point, pandemonium erupted and women of all ages ran to the front of the room, dying to wring his neck. Braxton rolled her eyes, glared at him and made it clear she had no use for his thoughts. Holmes sat next to him to offer support, while Benet and Green kept silent. When the topic of cheating came up, Benet said he “knew something about that,” but largely kept quiet.
The sponsors of the Circle of Sisters Expo addressed the audience. Norman Seabrook spoke to the crowd about the importance of COBA and the corrections department. Meanwhile, WBLS Vice President and General Manager Deon Livingston thanked the attendees for coming out in such large numbers to support the expo.
But the excitement built to a crescendo as the crowd waited for Vanzant. She came out in style, dancing to Beyonce’s “Love on top,” while the crowd erupted in cheers. Vanzant had the audience eating out of her hands from her opening prayer, to her request that each person holds the hands of the one next to them, to her profound words of wisdom. She urged the attendees to “Get it clean in 2014,” by cleaning up their minds, hearts, life, spirit, mouths, energy and credit. “Whatever you tell yourself about who and what you are it will happen,’ she said, warning about the power of thoughts to manifest into reality. “Clean up your minds by committing to forgiveness,” she said, “we have to stop expecting people to clean up our lives for us.” She left the stage to deafening applause and shouts.
By the time Harvey took the stage to treat the audience to a taste of his comedy routine in preparation for a live version of “Family Feud” the crowd was hyped and passionate. The Circle of Sisters was filled with fun, education and supportive interactions. Vendors, including the Network Journal magazine which had promotions maverick Julia Shaw at the helm of its booth, were creative in attracting patrons, while the panelists and presenters were entertaining. Surprise appearances were made by Cynthia Bailey and her husband, Peter of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” while Drea Kelly (ex-wife of singer R. Kelly) elicited gasps of admiration from men and women alike when she strutted by in a form-fitting dress that showcased her remarkable figure.
One area that could be improved is inadequate the number of ladies’ rooms, which created such long lines that some attendees, including this writer, commandeered one of the male bathrooms and posted other females at the door to keep the men out.—OnPointPress.net