Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Awakening of the Groove

The Awakening of the Groove

Story by Tony E. Boyd, Contributing Writer

There's a groove growing in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

All of Northwest Arkansas for that matter. 
Aisling Thornton reading "An American Poem"
by Eileen Myles 

There's an unmistakable awakening of the heart and soul of the city. Now don't get me wrong, art has long been a big part of what the city was about. All manner of visual and performance art have been born and raised here over time. But the groove is relatively new. A groove that permeates the soul, lifts the spirit, and fills the heart. This is evidenced in the musical, spoken word and poetic performances popping up over town. I was lucky enough to attend one such performance Saturday, March 7th, 2015.

The Poetic Justice Open Mic Nite, sponsored by Umoja Soul Writers Group, and HandsUpNWA was held at The Common Grounds Gourmet Espresso Bar on Dickson Street. (Poetry and espresso just seem to go hand in hand, doesn't it?) It was a laid back atmosphere from the gitgo.
"Black Lives Will Matter" by Juana Washington

Before the evening's event started, various participants and onlookers ambled in, exchanginggreetings and hugs, shaking hands, laughing and joking. It was a jovial atmosphere, spurred on by the night's MC, Jared Carter. Jared handled the crowd like a seasoned performer, keeping things moving along and filling in the gaps with humor. 

To kick things off, there was an acapella song performed by Tina "Tina G." Gaston and Jared "Jared C." Carter. The   soulful voices intertwined as the crowd bounced to the beat. Afterward, Jared and Tina each performed a poem for the appreciative crowd. Next on the mic was Elliott Roeder who brought along saxophone accompaniment. His delivery was subtle and subdued, the essence of his prose slowly sinking in. The night was about justice and injustice.
Haley Smith reads her poem "Heirlooms."
Stacy "LIFE" Harper

Following Elliott, Juana Washington stepped to the mic and sent a metaphorical fire through the crowd. Her commanding presence and strong vocals added to the voracity of her message. She combined her prose with hints of gospel, oratory inflections held the audience in rapt attention from start to finish. Don't just plead for justice, demand it. 

Alexander Ross stepped to the mic to read a piece that he found particularly poignant, leaving the stage to thunderous snaps (as is the custom of poetry slams). Between each new performance, Jared steps up to offer glib remarks and encouraging any and all to participate if so inspired. 

Alexander Ross

At this time, he introduced an aspiring poet by the name of Curtis. Curtis stepped to the mic and launched into his stirring poem about injustice, inequality, and assumptions. The combination of his words and his delivery was the complete performance. The night continued with performances by Johnston Ewing, Mr. Ladebac, Kaia Hodo, Aisling Thornton, Haley Smith, F. L. Jones, L.I.F.E., Laasean Willis, Anne Shelley, and Marie. Its unfortunate that I had to leave before the end of the night.
Steven "Ladebac" Toston talks about
"Just Us" or Justice
 My experience at Poetic Justice Open Mic Nite was a soulful, stirring and inspiring one. Something about the rhythms, the rhymes, and melodies just stimulated a deeply resonate reaction within me. This is not an isolated event. The groove of the city is awakening and making itself heard.

So, please come and experience the Awakening of a New Groove on April 24, 2015 at Common Grounds as Umoja Soul Writers Group along with HandsUpNWA entertain you with Poetry, music, laughter and Justice for all!

To see more Photos of Poetic Justice, click HERE! 

Story and photos by Tony E. Boyd, Contributing Writer

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Educating Our Future About Our Past: Because of Them, We Can

Educating Our Future About Our Past:
By Tony E. Boyd, Contributing Writer

Black History Fashion Show Models

On a pleasant Saturday evening on March 7 at Fayetteville's Donald W. Reynolds Boys' and Girls' Club, a program was held. Not just any old program, but one to celebrate greats in American history. It just so happened that these greats, these heroes, these innovators were Black. 
MC Steven Toston & MC Leora Jackson

Spearheaded by the founder of the Umoja Soul Writers Group, Leora Jackson, the program was designed to inform attendees about the important roles these figures played in the shaping of America. It was also to celebrate those contributions in a manner that both educated and uplifted. Ms. Jackson disclosed that her inspiration for the program was an online exhibit that she had stumbled upon that used child models to represent historical figures. Being very impressed with the idea, she decided to bring the concept to life in NW Arkansas. 

Chelsea James Boys & Girls
Club Representative
The program, included models aged 3 - 11 in costumes representing the varied historical and relevant figures. There were representatives from Sojourner Truth all the way through President Barack Obama. The program itself included poetry, singing, speeches and music.

The event was kicked off with Chelsea James from the DWR Boys and Girls Club giving the opening address. After which, Pastor Marcus Carruthers of Dwelling Place Church gave the opening remarks. Haley Smith was called upon to introduce the masters of ceremony, Leora herself and Steven "Ladebac" Toston.  After that, it was on to the models. 
Pastor Marcus Carruthers

The trailblazers represented were: Sojourner Truth (as I mentioned earlier), Angela Davis, Joe Louis, Langston Hughes, Ruby Bridges, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Assata Shakur, Muhammad Ali, Daisy Bates (the Arkansas native), and President Barack Obama. The young people were tasked with delivering short vignettes about their historical figures while modeling their costumes. It was cuteness overload. I was quite impressed with their poise. 

Mila Gaston
Mariah Carey

Alyanna Carter
as Ruby Bridges

Xavier Brown
as President Barack Obama

Chloe Belle
as Angela Davis
                                                                     Collin Tims
                                                                       as Langston Hughes

But alas, for the youngest though, the stress of being up in front of a crowd was a bit much. (I can definitely relate). Ironically Ruby Bridges, the person she was representing probably felt some of the same type of anxious feelings as she single handedly integrated William Frantz Elementary School in Mississippi. 

Mayor Lioneld Jordan
The crowd was also treated to an impromptu, off-the-cuff speech from the Honorable Mayor Lionel Jordan. He attended the event in support of education about Black history, unity and the well-being of all of his citizens. His message spoke to the futility of divisiveness and the hope for a more inclusive future.

Inspiration was the word of the day. It was a time of coming together, a time of learning, a time of understanding, and a time of igniting the future. And since this will be an annual event, we can all take heart in promise of inspiration coming from the past, gracing our present, and remaining relevant into the future

Carrington Sims
as Sojourner Truth
Caleb Honore as
Muhammad Ali


Kaylee Sibley as
Daisy Bates
Valarie as Assata Shakur

Look for more Fashion Show pictures at 

Story & Pictures by Tony E. Boyd

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fayetteville March Events

Peace Day, Peace Walk.
March 7, 2015

Come join us tomorrow morning at Walker Park in Fayetteville from 9:30-10:30am for a Walk for Peace, and for JUSTICE!
Also, take part in the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March as President Barack Obama and other Civil Rights Leaders across the world come to together and commemorate the famous Historic Walk.
Join us and WALK and become part of History! 
Join us and WALK for Peace!
Join us and WALK Hand in Hand, singing, "We Shall Overcame, Someday"
Join us and listen to leaders in the Northwest Arkansas Community tomorrow March 7 at 10:30am
* NAACP President John Colbert will recognize the historic Walk in Selma.
* Members of the Fayetteville Police will discuss the issues of Police Brutality that has angered a nation, but they will discuss what their department is doing to recognize the issue.
Fayetteville Four members will discuss their arrest in regards to protesting Police Brutality as it relates to Ferguson.
* NWA IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organization Committee) members will discuss more about their mission on Prison Reform
***Many more organizations will be present with tables and booths to provide information on peace, justice, equality, and so much more.
Come and join us Hand in Hand and Remember SELMA, and REMEMBER PEACE AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!!!

For questions: Jared Carter at

Wear red or black and be sure to wear your hoodies for justice.

March 7, 2015 from 2-4pm at the Boys & Girls Club

Poetic Justice Open Mic Nite 
Saturday,March 7, 2015, 7:30pm-11pm.
Common Grounds Coffeehouse, 
Dickson St in Fayetteville

Let your words be Spoken
To the Minds of the People
Who are Broken
Speak People Speak!

14th Annual Crimson & Cream Event hosted by NWA Alumnae Delta Sigma Theta

Come check out the Crimson and Creme Ball Saturday, March 7, 2015 hosted by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Ladies, your funny man Joe Torry will be the Special Guest! Who can resist that Joe!

NAACP "Know Your Rights" Forum
Come and be involved and know your RIGHTS!!!

Smooth Jazz on Sundays
Presented at "The Big Chill"
South Pinnacle Hills Parkway, Rogers, AR 72758
March 15th and March 29th 7pm-10pm

Free Admission! Food and Drinks available!

PoetryInMotion2021 Inc. tEcH invites you to Verbal Tapestries Poetry Showcase. Held at South Walton Suites Executive Escape Lounge. FREE ENTRY... (Donations are welcomed) 

Enjoy poetry at its finest and other forms of entertainment. Come out Saturday, March 28th from 7pm-12:00am. However the performances will start at 9:00pm.

DJ Soldier will also be on the wheels directing the party.. Ask for the Verbal Tap drink specials courtesy of Executive Escapes.

Also stay informed real time and follow the movement on FACEBOOK by becoming a fan at the Verbal Tapestries fan page. Hit the LIKE button. You will find updates concerning the events, pictures and videos etc. Follow us on Twitter @VerbalTap1. 

If you are an artist and interested in performing, e-mail
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