President Barack Obama, shakes hands with President-Elect Donald J. Trump as he arrives on stage for his swearing-in, at the 58th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2017. /Photo by Roy Lewis
President Barack Obama, shakes hands with President-Elect Donald J. Trump as he arrives on stage for his swearing-in, at the 58th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2017. /Photo by Roy Lewis


Peaceful Transfer Of Power: Trump Sings Multiple Executive Orders

The 44th President Barack Obama gave his last address as commander in chief of the United States on Tuesday, Jan. 10 in his hometown of Chicago assuring the people that despite a contentious election season there will be a peaceful transfer of power to Donald Trump.

“I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me,” Obama said in his speech weeks ago. “Understand democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued, they quarreled, and eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that, for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one.”

On Friday, Jan. 20, Donald Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th president at his inauguration on the steps of the United States Capitol.

“Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent,” Trump said.

The president insisted that the American people would also experience a “transfer of power” from Washington back to them.

Hours after the inauguration, news broke on social media that the sections on the White House website on climate change and LGBT rights had been removed.

On the same day President Trump signed several executive orders appointing controversial cabinet members, but most notably his first stab at dismantling Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

He also cut a federal mortgage program that helps low-income homebuyers with discounted fees.

Top Democrat Chuck Schumer from the state of New York chastised President Trump’s action on the floor of the Senate.

“One hour after talking about helping working people and ending the cabal in Washington that hurts people, he signs a regulation that makes it more expensive for new homeowners to buy mortgages,” he said.


The Black Love Experience Like Nothing Else in D.C.

Interdisciplinary artist Shani Crowe shows off her craft braiding a model’s hair for her live artist talk at the Black Love Experience on Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Anacostia Arts Center in Southeast. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

Young Black entrepreneurs, artists and creatives took over the best hidden secret in Southeast for a night of Black excellence.

The Anacostia Arts Center transformed into the Black Love Experience on Saturday, Feb. 18 to celebrate the beauty of people in the African diaspora with workshops, live performances and a live artist talk featuring Shani Crowe.

Anika Hobbs, owner of Nubian Hueman, a boutique located inside the center, and the brains behind the event, said in its fourth year it continues to get bigger and better.

“In the beginning, four years ago, I knew that February is one of the slowest months in retail, so I thought why don’t we have something to bring people in,” Hobbs said. “I kept thinking that there are so many creatives of color in D.C. and if we all get together how exciting that would be. Each year it got bigger.”

Hobbs characterizes the Black Love Experience as a conglomerate of things like live art, live music, commerce, panels and workshops that she believes is good for the local community.

“It’s exciting to see the sold-out crowd being introduced to Anacostia,” she said. “We wanted to take the blackest part of D.C. and bring folks over east of the river to see that there are really cool things happening over here.”

Hobbs invited interdisciplinary artist Shani Crowe for a live artist talk given her success and popularity, most notably for being the hands behind singer Solange Knowles’ creative braids in her recent “Saturday Night Live” performance.

“My most popular work is photographic, which depicts braids that I’ve done. I also do collages, drawings, paintings and visual work, which is what I studied in undergrad at Howard,” Crowe said.

Crowe, who started getting clients at age 12 said that even though braiding is not her full-time job, she always maintains her gift because of the connection she has made with women.

“For anybody that is an outsider and they want a peak into Black hair culture, they have to understand that hair is a lot deeper than the superficial for Black people,” she said. “Hair is an outward expression of who we are.”


Vintage Black Glamour on Exhibit at George Washington Museum

Yves Saint Laurent (France), “Picasso” evening dress, haute couture, fall/winter 1979-80. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

Step back in time 50 years ago to see the beginning of African-Americans in high fashion in top designers through the lens of Ebony Fashion Fair.

The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum presents the glorious story of a traveling fashion show that broke color barriers in its newest exhibition “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.”

“The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see how the Ebony Fashion Fair was an important part of the Back experience for 50 years,” said Camille Ann Brewer, curator of contemporary art at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. “The fair was an important annual cultural event and fundraiser in the Washington, DC area, with Washington being one of the three largest venues in the U.S.”


D.C.’s First Marijuana Museum Opens on 4/20

The History of Cannabis Museum staff celebrates the opening with a ribbon cutting on April 20 in Northwest. (Photo by Steve Garrett)

The first cannabis museum on the East Coast opened in D.C. on the official weed holiday of 4/20.

The History of Cannabis Museum kicked off its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting officially opening its doors to educate the public on the plant.The time to squash decades of bad rumors is now, according to Jason Forte, museum founder and owner of Grow Club DC, a membership-based service club providing legal, in-home marijuana plant maintenance and installation.

“This is Jason’s baby,” said Marché Reneé, events coordinator for the newly minted museum and its parent company, Grow Club DC. “He felt that the museum would reflect D.C.’s museum culture really nicely, and it’s the perfect time for people to educate themselves.”

With the District’s recent marijuana legalization ordinance and similar laws approaching the rest of the country, D.C.’s newest museum offers the chance to learn how deep cannabis’ roots run throughout human history and dispel harmful stereotypes surrounding pot use.

Stepping down into the purple exhibit, a wall of ancient portraits greets you, setting you back 9,000 years before the fIrst camera’s invention.

The first of three rooms explores marijuana’s early beginnings, documenting the 8000 B.C. era and civilizations in China, Southeast Asia that used, cultivated and traded cannabis.

“We really want to educate people more than anything,” Reneé said. “So many people have false perceptions of marijuana, though it’s one of the most useful plants on the planet.”


Shawne Merriman Gracefully Pivots from NFL to Clothing Biz

Retired NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman brought his active line “Lights Out” to a DTLR in D.C. on May 17. (Steve Garrett)

Retired NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman returned home to the DMV area not to talk football, but to debut his new active wear line affectionately named “Lights Out.”

Merriman, who played for seven seasons in the league, earned the moniker “Lights Out” as a sophomore at Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, Md. Now as a full-fledged businessman, he’s using his famous trademark on his latest fashion effort.

“I’m from here this is home, and it’s always going to be home,” Merriman said. “I’m from P.G. County, Capitol Heights, Forestville, I went to high school in Upper Marlboro, so this is a special place. Having the ability to play in San Diego and now live in L.A., you realize there is no place in the country like the DMV, it could be its own country.”

Merriman said that launching Lights Out in D.C., especially in DTLR, has been extra-special.

“I remember when we could afford new clothes, and to be able to go buy clothes from DTLR was everything for us,” he said. “Now sitting here and being able to sell and partner with [DTLR] is almost unheard of.

“You go and have this career playing football and you have this success on the field, but now your football is done, what else do I do?” he said. “[I asked myself,] ‘What do I love doing just as much as I enjoy playing football?’ and this was it for me.”

Merriman bought the Lights Out company in his second year playing with the San Diego Chargers in 2006. He started with T-shirts and hats, but he didn’t have much time to devote to it due to his rigorous football schedule.

“I’ve learned a lot about the industry over the past three years, but back then my main job was playing football — go to practice, workout and everything else was second,” Merriman said. “Since I’ve retired now, I’m over here playing a different game, which is building a brand.”


Hollywood Comes to D.C.

Omari Hardwick of Starz’ “Power” poses on the red carpet during a June 8 red-carpet event at at the Newseum in D.C. for the show’s season 4 premiere. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

The Starz Network premiered season 4 of its hit show “Power” on Sunday, June 25, picking up where it left off, following James “Ghost” St. Patrick to jail. Tasha’s world is falling apart and Angela is hell-bent on getting justice for the murder of Greg even if it means taking the love of her life Jamie down for a crime he didn’t commit.

And Tommy the enforcer? Of course he is doing what he does best: kicking ass and asking questions later.

Before the cable premiere, the cast, crew and network hosted their star-studded glitzy premiere in D.C. on Thursday, June 8, at the Newseum in Northwest. It could have been in New York or L.A. as expected, but they chose the District instead. Show creator Courtney Kemp Agboh has a connection to the city, spending most of her summers here growing up, so for her bringing “Power” to D.C. was a must.

The entire cast graced the red carpet, including Omari Hardwick, 50 Cent, Lela Loren, Joseph Sikora, Naturi Naughton, La La Anthony and Larenz Tate.

Local celebrities such as Washington Wizards guard John Wall and the cast of “The Real Housewives of Potomac” came to support the hottest show of the summer.


Happy National Ice Cream Month

With July being National Ice Cream Month, Americans have answered once again with their favorite ice cream of choice.

As expected vanilla ice cream reigned supreme once again as America’s favorite, and chocolate-filled favors dominated the top five bestselling ice cream according to a recent survey of ice cream makers and retailers across the United States.

“Vanilla has long been the best-selling ice cream favor not only because it is creamy and delicious, but also because of its ability to enhance so many other desserts and treats,” said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs.

“It tastes great topped by whipped cream and fudge sauce in a sundae, with root beer in a float or atop a warm slice of apple pie.”


Supt. Brown Working to Make Fort Monroe a Travel Destination

Terry Brown, National Park Service Superintendent of Fort Monroe (Sarafina Wright)

The Superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument comes to work every day just steps away from where the first recorded Africans landed in the new world almost 400 years ago. For Terry Brown, a 27-year veteran of the National Park Service, he thinks it’s absolutely spectacular.

“There are not a lot of African-Americans as superintendents in the National Park Service. I’ve only known a handful,” Brown said. “But, I think in this position, I am well positioned to do a lot of great stuff.”

“This community has never had a national park in its back yard and I think that’s really neat.” When Brown arrived to Fort Monroe, Va., from Boston in June of 2016 he went from managing 64 employees to a staff of one.

One of Brown’s first priorities was to put together a comprehensive professional staff that could take Fort Monroe to another level in the communities they serve.

“We’re working really hard to diversify,” he said. “How many historical places have you gone to that speaks to African-Americans but it’s an all white staff? It’s not that you can’t have an all white staff but you need diversity within your organization, because they are going to speak through the different lenses.”

After managing the Black Heritage Trail at Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park, Brown got the call last year to serve at Fort Monroe and he happily accepted.

“I arrive, it’s a big celebration, everyone is so happy. I’m excited I got the job, and one month later I realized I have some work on my hands,” Brown said.

“I walk through the door and realize we have no walking tours, buildings that are falling down with mold, termite damage and no welcome center. There is no way to welcome people to Fort Monroe.”

Brown said together with Fort Monroe Executive Director Glenn Oder they came together to conceptualize the Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center, which will open in 2019.

“There was also no National Parks Service sign on the front gate, but now we have the first phase of signs going up. It will start to feel like a national park,” he said.


Maggy Francois: A D.C. Style Maven

Maggy Francois at the 2017 Essence Festival in New Orleans

Recently named a “Woman of Style” by DC Magazine, Maggy Francois turns heads wherever she goes simply because of her impeccable style.

Seen on the scene everywhere from premieres like Starz’ “Power,” TV One’s “When Love Kills” or the chicest events the District has to offer, Francois showcases her inside-out knowledge of fashion with the threads she rocks.

The Brooklyn native began her career in the industry 20 years ago and since has branched out to public relations, producing events and teaching fashion design.

We caught up with the very busy Francois at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 47th Annual Legislative Conference on Thursday, Sept. 21 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to find out how she does it all.

On being named a Woman of Style: “It felt great. It was an honor, because it’s so many fashionable people in D.C. People think that D.C. isn’t a fashion community and a lot of people here don’t know how to dress, but they do. I’ve been in the fashion industry for 20 years, so I guess it was a little refreshing to hear somebody recognizes you for what you do. I’m not really the person in front of the scene, I’m more behind the scenes and it just felt great.”


Meet The Kitchenista Bringing Back Sunday Dinner

Angela “The Kitchenista” Davis at “Sunday Dinner with The Kitchenista” at Gateway DC in Southeast on Oct. 15 (Cal Hoyle)

Five years ago Angela Davis quit her job as an accountant and decided to pursue her dreams in the kitchen full-time. Hundreds of thousands social media followers later, the now Kitchenista has taken on her biggest project yet, a dinner series in collaboration with Events DC. On Sunday, Oct. 15, the first-ever “Sunday Dinner with The Kitchenista” kicked off at Gateway DC with an intimate crowd enjoying her highly praised dishes like the braised oxtail lasagna and apple and pear walnut crumble. Taking a break from cooking for her guest Davis spoke about how in a short time she’s risen to the top in a heavily competitive food market.

How does a self-taught cook acquire a contract with Events DC, a major organization in a major city?

“It’s been five years in the making. I really used social media to my advantage from the beginning to build an audience and it pushed me to be better because I was held accountable every time I posted something. I’ve been pushing myself to learn new things, work with better ingredients and learn photography on my own so its been baby steps. And as my network expanded I met people in the right places and it became easier for me. I met Clinton and around that same time I just got out of accounting for good and was ready to move on to something bigger and Clinton had a lot of ideas for my brand. So we formed a partnership and he’s a big part of this behind the scenes, sitting in meetings, putting me in front of people in the city. Between me doing the food for my brand and him doing the leg work it just came together at the right time.”


Inside ComplexCon 2017 with Lafayette

Pharrell Williams. cultural director/executive chair of ComplexCon, strikes a pose on Nov. 4 in Long Beach, Calif. (Anthony Trevino)

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if all of the cool people from the internet gathered in one room? Every brand, celebrity or influencer that you’ve interacted with online?

Well that was just the beginning of my experience from Nov. 4-5 in Long Beach, Calif., at ComplexCon 2017. During my visit I rubbed shoulders with sneaker culture icons such as DJ Clark Kent and reggaeton superstar J. Balvin.

I also witnessed some of my favorite artists such as Pharrell and Migos. A major highlight was seeing alternative band N.E.R.D. back together again after a three-year hiatus.

I also witnessed designer and founder of Off-White, Virgil Abloh and Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami put on a T-shirt screen-printing seminar and got a first look at many exclusive sneaker and fashion releases for 2018.

ComplexCon was a great experience and the ideal opportunity for consumers and companies to connect with brands, learn about pop culture and have some fun.

For more information visit

Pro-tip for next year: Arrive early, bring cash for purchases, and study the event map.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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