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Days to Remember in September 2009
"The Harlem Renaissance/Jazz Age was not the most peaceful time in American history but it was certainly one of the most dynamically creative." --Aberjhani
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Harlem Renaissance author Langston Hughes surrounded by young fans.

Before the hours of insanity and annihilation that changed world history on September 11, 2001, the month of September was noted by members of my family primarily as the birth month for at least a half dozen individuals. It remained, of course, their month after 9/11, but the shadow of that event tends to lessen the glow of birthday candles and soften the volume of songs and laughter. Especially for those born on the actual day.

Two years later, the greater impact of 9/11 was just beginning to unfold as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars upgraded to levels of mega-destruction no one could have fully anticipated. At the same time, Facts On File published my Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (with Sandra L. West). That the encyclopedia was my first major book published by a major company added--for me personally--greater emotional balance to the month of September.

Several boxes of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance greeted me when I walked through the door on September 5, 2003. They represented years of research, writing, and sustained determination that had been much like training for a literary decathlon. This year, 2009, I feel blessed to have witnessed the encyclopedia's impact as it went on to win awards, receive a recommendation as one of ESSENCE Magazine's recommended holiday gift items, and Black Book Reviews' "Recommended Titles for the Home Library." Moreover, it became a highly valued resource for students of the era at every level and helped to launch a publishing frenzy on related subjects, thus documenting the great era more thoroughly than ever before.

The sixth anniversary of 9/11 stirred within me a need to generate something that might help to generate a positive counter-balance to the event's crippling catastrophic malice; and in an effort to do exactly that, I established Creative Thinkers International on September 10, 2007. If 9/11 had come to stand as an indelible symbol for heinous criminality and disregard for life, I hoped that CTI for however many might come to stand as both a symbol for and a function of positive creativity. Two years later later, this community of teachers, scientists, artists, authors, philosophers, ministers, poets, and everyday people from around the world has moved almost 400 members closer to achieving its goal.

Just like the dance group Chic sang some years ago, "We all want good times," but living in the New Millennium we've learned they sometimes have to be squeezed out of the bad.


by Aberjhani


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My memory of September 11, 2001

Oddly enough, I paid little attention to an early-moring email in which a lady-friend told me an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I thought something like, "Wow, bummer," then gathered up a half dozen reference books I had borrowed from the library for research on the Harlem Renaissance so I could return them before my mother's homecare assistant took for the day. On my way out the door, I took note that Dan Rather was on TV instead of Mom's favorite soap opera so I stopped to see what he had to say. Then he showed that incomprehensibly mind-blasting video of one airliner after another exploding chaos in New York City and rippling out into the rest of the world. The first words out of my mouth were, "Oh my God, that's an act of war!"

I don't think I made it to the library that day. It seemed better to stay home and guard the house until history unfolded a bit more and I could be certain it was safe to drive or walk down the street.

author of The American Poet Who Went Home Again
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File)

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Congratulations on the

Congratulations on the awards and accolades, Aberjani!

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Congrats humbly accepted

Thank you Ellen. The awards are very nice but mostly I treasure the opportunity to have paid tribute to a generation of writers and artists whose work and lives had a profound impact on my own. I doubt I would have striven as hard as I did, and still continue to do, were it not for the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance authors.

author of The American Poet Who Went Home Again
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File)

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So many folks never get

So many folks never get what's due them in their lifetimes.  It's lovely that you paid them that respect.