Category Mentors

Gerald J. “Jerry” Bender (1942-2017)

Last week, I lost another one of my mentors, Jerry Bender, who passed away in Los Angeles. Jerry was simply one of the most brilliant men I have ever had the privilege to meet. I was among one of many he mentored, not only about Angola and Africa, but about life. I will miss his […]

Ambassador Gayletha B. Brown (1947-2013) Ambassador Gayleatha B. Brown Passed Friday at the JFK Medical Center in Edison NJ. Born in Matwon, West Virginia, she had been a resident of Metuchen for 37 yrs. formerly of Edison. Ms. Brown was a United States foreign service officer and ambassador for over 30 yrs. She attained her BA and Ma honor […]

Said S. Samatar (1943-2015)

One of my great mentors was the late Dr. Said S. Samatar, a brilliant scholar and source of encouragement in all of my journalistic endeavors. “Abo” guided much of my professional and personal involvement in Somalia and all things Somali. He was insightful, generous, warm and witty. I will miss my conversations him dearly.

Ten Years On- Remembering My Grandfather

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Dr. Ann L. Stanford (1934-2012)

More than a remarkable woman in her own right, “Ma Stanford” was a mother to me and Zeinab and a grandmother to Samsam, Hassan and Yassin. Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, she refused to have others set limits for her aspirations, which she accomplished. I met her in Nairobi in the summer of 1982 when I […]

“Auntie” (Marion Olivia Johnson Dozier Sipes) 1922-2008 & “Grandma” (Mabel Ragland Johnson 1899-1984) Richmond, Va., October 1979

Two of the greatest ladies ever. Whatever good things I am are because of these two women, my Aunt Marian and my grandmother. I miss them so much. Auntie raised all six of us, taught us right from wrong, dispensed the discipline along with plenty of love and affection. Some people are blessed to have […]

Wilfred Edgerton Little, Sr. (1920-1998)

  To those who did not know Wilfred Little, he will be remembered primarily as the eldest brother of slain black leader Malcolm X. However, those who knew him well, or even by casual acquaintance, will remember him as an extraordinary figure in his own right — an inspirational teacher, and dedicated community activist in […]

LeRoy Aarons (1933-2004)

A renaissance man, before they invented the term, “Roy” was one of my early mentors. Only later did I discover what a great man he was. He was a consummate journalist, editor, correspondent, wordsmith, playwright, author and, foremost, an untiring activists for the right causes. He was a founding member of the Institute for Journalism […]

Bernie McCain (1936-2012)

(The Washington Post, 10/25/12) Bernie McCain, the WOL talk show host who for three decades was one of Washington’s most popular figures in black radio, died Oct. 13 at Georgetown University Hospital. He was 75 and had renal failure, said his daughter Leslie Charleton. He had gone off the air more than a year ago […]

Samuel F. Yette (1930-2011)

A great photo of one of my late mentors, Samuel F. Yette. He broke me down and built me up with a firm but fair hand. I stood on the shoulders of many giants. Prof. Yette is one of those giants. We are all better for having known him and the world is a better […]