Anyone familiar with the City of Newark, knows that there is one place of worship that really speaks to the history of African American worship, Bethany Baptist Church.
The event was significant, not only because of the milestone reached by Rev. Howard, but because the event celebrated the man who married my wife and I a decade ago.
As we got ready for the gala, I must admit I was somewhat less than enthusiastic.
I mean, it was a function for a pastor – how much fun would it really be?
AND I was going to be at a table with my mother-in-law – snorelax supreme!
AND it was in the middle of the day (3 to 7) so who was really going to be getting their swerve on?
Despite my misgivings, I soldiered on.
The tickets were $100 a head, so it couldn’t be all bad. Right?
When we arrived at the Mezzanine, which was centrally located on Broad Street, we were greeted by valets.
“How much for the parking?”
“It’s free, but the tip’s $100.” Nice, and they’ve got jokes.
When we stepped inside, the place was abuzz with activity.
Well dressed Black folk walked to and fro.
A kindly elder woman escorted Chanel and I to the elevators, bringing us up to the reception hall the back way – thus avoiding the long check-in queue.
A three piece band played as hors d’oeuvres were served by white-gloved attendees.
All-in-all, it was a very respectable affair.
But a slight commotion caught my attention.
Immediately in front of me, I saw the grossly underdressed mayor, Cory Booker, pressing the flesh and speaking to the gathered throngs.
He was not the source of the din.
Then I saw him.
The wild fro. The distinctive black collar, white shirt, black tie.
It was none other than the indomitable Cornel West.
After speech, after speech, after proclamation, after proclamation, the guest speaker took the stage and ROCKED IT!
It’s one thing to see Cornel West go through his machinations on tv.
Its something entirely different to see him up close and personal.
He is charismatic, uses his hands a lot, and has a booming voice.
He pulls you in with his words (whether you’re checking for what he has to say or not) and is a generally interesting cat.
All I know is that he turned the room up to 10 in a matter of minutes and it stayed there for the rest of the night.
I left the reception right before dessert, but must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed myself!