If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” – Sojourner Truth

“I’m every woman.” In recognition of International Women’s Month, a special, shout out to a few notable women that have made a difference in Baltimore and the state of Maryland. The Hon. Patricia Coates Jessamy, Baltimore’s first woman state’s attorney; Claudia McKee, owner of Mane Attraction Salon, operating in downtown Baltimore for over 30 years; Morganite Carolyn Colvin, appointed by President Barak Obama as the deputy commissioner for the Social Security Administration; Dr. Anne Emery, founder of the local chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Woman; Vhonda William Lewis, recipient of the CP McCormick Award and Judge Shirley Watts, appointed to the Court of Appeals of Maryland by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.”- James Boswell

“You are my friend.” When former Councilwoman Paula Johnson Branch, Dr. Marie Washington and I get together, family and friends wait to see what we will do and we never disappoint them. People are amazed that the three of us have been “best friends” for almost 50 years, with never an argument or disagreement. Richard Pryor describes best how I met Paula. “I was walking down the street” in Edmondson Village, so was Paula, and we started talking and walking down Edmondson Avenue. Later, she introduced me to Marie. Marie and I are sworn to secrecy about revealing Paula’s age. However, if you see her in line at the local Social Security office, just smile, “but you didn’t hear it from me.” Well, back in the day we could dance. I mean we danced from the Temptation’s stroll, to the jitterbug, the James Brown – including the split and the backward slop.

Last week at Paula’s birthday celebration, we’re sitting around jiving and talking when Paula’s cousin Pete started playing some old school music on his iPod. After some coaxing, we took the dance floor. “That’s what friends are for.” They kept coming after us to dance and we knew we had to hold up the banner and represent our age group, so we did a tag team, encouraging each other with laughter and shouts of glee and stepping in when it looked like one of us was getting tired. The noise coming out of that house on the quiet cul-de-sac was deafening when Rufus Thomas’ “Walking the Dog” came on and we showed the young folks how to walk the dog.

“I still look good, y’all”- Whitney Houston. Paula you look the same as the day we met “walking down the street.” Always remember this old saying, “I may not be as good as I once was but I am as good once as I ever was.” Happy birthday my BFF (best friend forever).

“It’s your birthday make some noise.” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Boris Kodjoe, Winfield Kelly, Rosemary “Duchess” Atkinson, Michele Emery, Myron Bundy, Kathy Alexander, Jai Matthews, Doreyce Keston- Greene, Dr. Everett X Garnett and my son, Michael Lee.

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Friends and family gathered at the Anne Arundel county home of Doretha Hebron to celebrate the 90th birthday of her mother Virginia Hebron.

“Oops, there it is.” My stepmom Jean Johnson of Washington, D.C., had a birthday in January and I did the normal things when people celebrate a birthday. I really blew it this time; this was Jean’s 80th birthday. One of our favorite restaurants in the D.C. area was Duke Zieberts. We would go there several times a month for the most delicious food with excellent service. With Duke’s death, the restaurant closed and has since reopened as Morton’s Steakhouse and that’s where we gathered Sunday to celebrate Jean’s 80th birthday. She was radiant, surrounded by my dad Ben Johnson, my sister Cheryl Johnson, granddaughter Lisa and grandson-in-law Greg Packer, grandson Keith Lee, grandson Kevin Johnson and granddaughter- in-law Angela Johnson, great grandsons Gregory and Matthew Packer, and cousins, attorney James and Freddie Peaco.

The private dining room was the perfect backdrop for an evening of remembrance as we recounted fond memories of our life with Jean, a native of Dallas, Texas. “Back down memory lane.” Jean said she was so glad we chose Morton’s because of the many great memories we had on “any given Sunday” when we would meet at Duke’s. Presentation is everything as represented by the display of raw meats and vegetables they present tableside for you to make your selection before they were cooked. A perfect evening only enriched by the superb meal.

“I knew well that the only way I could get that door open was to knock it down; because I knocked them all down.” – Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander

“It’s never too late” to get your tickets for the Bunny Jackson/Bobby Graves Memorial Scholarship dance on March 20. This event, sponsored by friends of Bobby and Bunny, Walt Carr, Clayton Tucker, Jesse Greene, Sidney Edwards, Reginald Thomas, Robert McQuaige, Willard Wright, Harry White and Herman Jones, will benefit Coppin State University. For tickets, contact Harold Darden at 410-367-7575.

“I’ll be seeing you.”
– Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch