I HEART MELANIN

"one of the greatest Black men of the 20th Century"I was 2 weeks from turning 21, it was the summer of ’08 and I was at theUniversity of Cheik Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal.

Pendarvis interviewing students in Senegal

I was learning French and Wolof. I was learning about the sub-Saharan drought and how it influenced the formation of hurricanes in the gulf of Mexico/ Caribbean . Back home my mom was fighting breast cancer and my cousin was fighting throat cancer. The strength of the spirit in Senegal kept my spirits high. I learned about a religious leader name  Shiek Ibrahima Fall and how he influenced many Senegalese families to name their children in his likeness; one of those children of Senegal was  a revolutionary scientist named Dr. Cheik Anta Diop.

Why should you care about Dr. Cheik Anta Diop? Well, have you ever the theory that Egyptians were Black? Yea, he proved that! It was Dr. Diop’s rigorous studies and appeals of his findings to credited scientist in the mid-1900’s that finally lead the word to accept that those amazing pyramids on the banks of the Nile river were built by Black people.

Ha, to think: when Napoleans’s army blasted off the nose of the Sphinx, they thought they had trashed the evidence of Black folks created such amazing monuments in their likeness… ha…little did they know this evidence ran deeper than blood. the evidence was in our melanin.

on the campus of Cheik Anta Diop UniversityAnd to this day, melanin is what continues to be the fuel that drives us to create monuments of greatness.

Thank you Dr. Cheik Anta Diop.

also, check out the article I wrote when I got back from Senegal…

http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=d826ffed78d3f6ab8193259f4cdf2d75

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Photo Essay: A Walk Down MLK Ave. in South East D.C. on MLK Day 2010

He fought for Love. He fought for peace. He fought to uplifting Christ. And he fought to take down racism… But in the end Dr. King knew it was all about the allotment of resources in America.

His famous, “I Have a Dream” Speech, could have easily went down in history as the “Bounced Check ” speech. He spoke of America’s failure to include African-American’s into the greater society post-slavery. He acknowledged African-American’s role in the disenfranchisement, as many passively accepted what was given.

And now, 42 years after Dr. King’s assassination we have been given a National holiday in celebration of his birthday, and a Martin Luther King Jr. Ave in every major US city.

Every Martin Luther King Jr. Ave I have ever been fortunate enough to bare witness to runs through the most economically downtrodden part of the city.

I decided to take a walk down Martin Luther King Jr. Ave in the Nation’s Capitol, and this is what I saw…

Dr. King's Ave. in South East Washington DC

Martin Luther King Jr. Ave in South East Washington D.C. is a main artery through a predominantly African-American community. The area is in the transitional phase; the dilapidated structures of yesteryear still loom as a reminder of the 1968 riots after King’s death, the influence of crack cocaine in the 1980’s, and the economic turmoil that has plagued many Black communities since their creation- and through the current recession America is facing.

vacant housebuilding frame.Historically Black Community: For Sale

And like Every Black community in America, there were check cashing stores, liquor stores, heaps of trash in the street and graffiti on the walls

check cashing storeLiquor store. Good Hope.trash heapStanton Crew

But right next to the graffiti was something that started to open my eyes to the depth of the spirit present in the Anacostia community….

Islam on the riseSheik

Islam was far from the only religion present, in fact the number of Baptist churches was comparable to the amount of corner stores…Baptist church signUnion Temple

Fittingly enough, while attempting to take a shot of the church, another dominant force in the community conveniently intervened in my photo…

Cops and God.

But the governing bodies are also taking initiatives to aid the community…

A Government Savior?the plan...

dept. of Housing.

I don’t doubt the necessity for government aid in the Black community, but nothing trumps knowledge of self and knowledge of the land in which you reside. And in the community of South East Washington, D.C. there are numerous reminders of how fertile those grounds are, and how deep Black roots run through here said grounds.

Malcolm X centerFrederick Douglass' houseClara Muhammad schoolThurgood MarshallBlack owned Fish spotPeaceBlack familyBig Chair

And most of all… the words and image of Dr. King himself

MLK mural

On January 15th 2010 Dr. King would have been 81 years of age. To his memory, I give my respect.