“I am a black woman, the daughter of a dining car waiter; a black woman who could not buy a house eight years ago in parts of the District of Columbia. I didn’t start out as a member of a prestigious law firm, but as a woman who needed a scholarship to go to school. If you think I have forgotten that, you are wrong…if my life has any meaning at all, it is that those who start out as outcasts may end up being part of the system.”- Patricia Roberts Harris

Chief Judge Robert Bell administered the oath of office to the members of the caucus and thousands participated in Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus weekend. Bishop Vashti McKenzie opened the activities Thursday at the Westin Hotel; Saturday, Ed Gordon moderated the Black Millionaires in Maryland breakfast at the Baltimore Hilton and more than 550 young people attended the Youth Summit.

“And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.”- Friedrich Nietzsche

“Who’s that lady?” Senator Cathy Pugh, looking stunning in a strapless gown, did an outstanding job chairing the weekend event. Actor-comedian Anthony Anderson hosted the closing gala, keeping the audience in stitches along with BET comic Lavar Walker.

“We are family.” Meeting Anthony Anderson at the gala was like running into a long lost relative. When we were introduced, his easy manner and style reminded me of R&B performer Mario’s Uncle Robert. Soon we were talking and laughing like family. After the gala, I was watching the flurry of people posing for pictures with him. The next thing I know he leans back and says, “Where’s your camera?” My friend started laughing. Everyone knows I only use my Blackberry to text and make phone calls. “That’s what friends are for” nearby was Louis Fields who said I got this Val and snapped a picture of Cousin Anthony and me.

Among the room full of movers & shakers were Arnold & Joanne Jolivet, Frank & Diane Hocker, Takiea Hinton, Denise DeLeaver, Diane Bell McCoy, Anthony Jones, Mark Broady, Bryant Jenkins, Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Whynona and Eddie Brown, LaRian Finney, Pless Jones, former Mayor Sheila Dixon, Edward Anthony, Nykidra Robinson, Glenn and Sharon Middleton, Delegate Nathaniel Oaks and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

“We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to help us stay young.”Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Saturday reminded me of the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral after attending the funeral of 90-year-old Thelma Kelly. I headed to the Vulcan Blazers on Druid Park Drive for Garnetta Reese’s fantastic 75th birthday party. The standing room only crowd enjoyed mounds of food and top shelf open bar. It was great seeing Lisa Curry, former bartender at the Grenadier Club, still serving with a smile. Others enjoying the afternoon celebration were Earline Fraling, Marian Johnson, Ruth Pratt, Mildred Battle, Machaella Freeland, Jeanette and members of Douglass’ Class of 54. DJ Little Joe kept the “happy people” dancing the latest line dances.

Now “I got my MOJO working” so “let the good times roll.” After leaving Garnetta’s celebration, on to Grace Grant’s fabulous 80th birthday party hosted by Fred and Lavone Grant. The live jazz was a perfect venue for the always stylist jazz aficionada, Grace, giving her the opportunity to showcase her fancy footwork at Caton Castle. It was great seeing old friends and musician like Harold Adams and Major Boyd. Guests in attendance were Eleanor Janey, Arthur Hoffman, Doris Street, Gwendolyn “Dee” Wright, Ann Bush, Melvin “Money” Johnson, Carrie Peters, Sarah McNair, Ella Jackson, Juanita America, Charlie Brown and Linda Bey-Smith. Whew what a day and “oh what a night” Grace and Garnetta did I ever tell you’re my sheroes. “You’re the wind beneath my wings.”

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” – Luke 12:48

The smell of turkey with all the trimmings, mashed potatoes, roast beef so tender you could cut it with a fork, gravy, string beans, hot cornbread and more greeted the residents of McCullough Homes on Thanksgiving Eve as they entered the multipurpose room. The smiles on the resident’s faces was priceless as the Rev. Frank Reid and his congregation at Bethel A.M.E. Church treated them to a catered lunch prepared by Jimmy Britton’s Class Act Caterers and served by the congregation.

“There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place, and I know that it’s the spirit of the Lord.”

Bethel members came in droves to serve their neighbors and share their blessings on this day of Thanksgivings. Special thanks to Rita Horsley Johnson for coordinating neighbors dining together in fellowship and thanksgiving. Laughter when the man said to Rev. Reid, “You that man from TV- I grew up watching you.”

If you treat a sick child like an adult and a sick adult like a child, everything usually works out pretty well.” -Ruth Carlisle

Sending prayers and bouquets of get-well wishes for Zenna Williams of Atlanta, Gerald Brown, Ron Garner and Diane Hocker.

Condolences to Letticia Ramsey on the death of her mother Dorothy Ramsey; Darnell Moses on the death of his mother Darnell Ellerbee and Terry Seeney-Johnson on the death of her son Mark Seeney.

It’s your birthday make some noise! Gregory Wallace, WEAA Big Jim, WEAA Beverly Burke, Lamarr Johnson, Lindsey Hill, Brandon Wylie and my daughter Lisa Lee Packer.

“You are my friend” since “school dazes” at Lombard Jr. High School. Betty Williams, Hazel Moody, Shirley Brown and Gussie Hardy “best friends” recently celebrated their 60th birthdays together at a lavish party at the Gladys D. Greene Banquet Hall.

I’ll be seeing you Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch