The Chelsea Black Community (CBC) has become a highly visible and active organization since its inception four years ago under the direction of President Joan Cromwell.
The CBC has drawn large crowds to its events and it has assumed a major leadership role in the city’s celebration of Black History Month in February.
Now Cromwell and the CBC are entering the election arena as the sponsor of a Candidates Forum to be held Weds., June 27, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Chelsea Senior Center. The five candidates for the Democratic nomination for Suffolk County District Attorney, EvandroCarvalho, Linda Champion, Gregory Henning, Shannon McAuliffe, and Rachael Rollins have all accepted the CBC’s invitation to participate in a panel discussion and question-and-answer forum with the audience.
Congressman Michael Capuano and Boston City Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley, candidate for the Seventh Congressional Seat, were invited to participate in the Congressional Candidates’ portion of the forum.
Cromwell stated that Pressley will participate, while Capuano informed the CBC that he will be in session in Washington and unable to attend the forum.
Sharon McAuliffe, associate dean at Bunker Hill Community College, will serve as moderator of the forum.
Cromwell said the CBC decided to hold the forum after some of the candidates for the DA position reached out to the organization. Sensing a heightened interest in the contest due to DA Dan Conley’s decision not to run for re-election, the CBC opted to invite all five candidates to the city.
“We wanted to be fair and unbiased, so we said, ‘why don’t we just host a candidates’ forum’ so they can all have equal time with the community to get their points across,” said Cromwell.
The CBC president, a member of a long-time and well-known Chelsea family, said there are many issues in the news including immigration, the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, and substance abuse.
“There are so many things affecting our community that we felt it was important to educate and inform the voter that there are many candidates that are running for district attorney,” said Cromwell. “It’s a perfect opportunity for the people of Chelsea to have a conversation with the candidates, as well as to become knowledgeable about the election before they go in to the voting booth.”
Questions for the forum are being sent to the CBC by local organizations such as Roca, the Youth Commission, the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, and the Jordan Girls and Boys Club, among other groups.
Caulfield will have three questions for each of the candidates. The second half of the forum will be pre-selected questions from the audience.
If past CBC events are an indication, the Candidates Forum will be professionally done and well attended – and yes, Joan Cromwell said there will be great refreshments, something else for which the CBC has also become known.
“We need the public to be a part of the forum and meet the candidates,” said Cromwell. “We encourage the whole community to be there on June 27 at the Chelsea Senior Center.”
Chelsea residents Michael Albano and Eden Edwards have been supporting the Apollinaire Theatre for seven years by throwing a dinner party in their beautiful eclectic home to raise money to support the theatre’s free, outdoor, summer Apollinaire in the Park productions. “Of all the things Apollinaire does, it’s their best service to the community,” says Michael.
Michael, a Somerville native, first moved to Chelsea in 1995 and soon began looking for ways to get involved in the city. “My father was always a community activist,” says Michael. “It was just what you did in my family.” He was a part of the Chelsea Collaborative and Green Space (now GreenRoots), and was the chairman of the Chelsea Planning Board for four years. After the downturn in the economy, Michael turned his focus to his business. When he was ready to serve the community again, he found Apollinaire Theatre Company.
Michael joined the Apollinaire in the Park committee, after a decline in funding forced the cancellation on the 2011 show. He and Eden’s generous support of the theatre has grown into an exceptionally fun and memorable annual dinner in their home featuring Michael’s cooking, and performances from the Apollinaire in the Park cast. This summer Apollinaire is producing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cast members will be performing “Pyramus and Thisbe,” Midsummer’s play within a play, at the party.
On making Chelsea their home, Michael says, “Chelsea found me.” Eden, a Nebraska native who moved to Chelsea in 2001 adds that she feels “lucky to have found Chelsea.” The couple describes their home as a “Victorian beach house.” The Victorian details have a nautical flair, such as the banisters with waves carved into them. It was built in 1895 by a shipping captain from Beacon Hill as his second home and was the first home built in its Chelsea neighborhood. At the time it was constructed, the captain would have had an unobstructed view of the beach he could walk to.
-Michael’s journey as a cook began when he was just eight and made his first pizza. His father, who dabbled in the restaurant business, was the cook in the home. Michael’s culinary style is influenced French, American, and of course Italian cuisine (he lived in Italy for a number of years). He worked in the famed Ciro’s restaurant in Boston and enthusiastically describes himself as a food-lover.
Michael will be serving up a variety of hors d’oeuvres, vegetables, ravioli, New York strip steak, and his popular roasted Tuscan chicken and au gratin potatoes with wine, beer, and soft drinks. (Eden looks out for the vegetarians!) Apollinaire actor Ann Carpenter is known for contributing her famous vegetarian lasagna. There will also be desserts from Pan y Café. For wine enthusiasts, there will be a mini wine tasting/pairing offered from Eden and Michael’s reserve as an add-on for partygoers.
While hosting the dinner is big undertaking—Eden’s sister, agents from Michael’s real estate office, and friends often help them prepare—Michael and Eden are very happy that it has become a tradition in the community as well as in their home. “When people involved with the Chelsea community are in my house, it’s the most fun nights here apart from having family,” says Eden. The party always happens in June, not just to poise it to best serve fund-raising efforts for the theatre’s July performances, but also because Michael’s birthday is in June. The party doubles as a celebration for him where he can get friends who are not from Chelsea involved in supporting Apollinaire.
This year’s party is on June 15th at 7:00pm at the couple’s home: 32 Crest Ave., Chelsea. Tickets can be purchased through the theatre’s website: www.apollinairetheatre.com, at the door, or by calling 617-887-2336.
Apollinaire’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs July 11 – 29 at 7:30pm in Chelsea’s waterfront PORT Park, 99 Marginal Street. ALL performances are FREE. Contact the theatre to learn about opportunities to get involved with the show!
Apollinaire in the Park is a program of Apollinaire Theatre Company (ATC), Chelsea’s award-winning professional theatre. ATC produces adventurous contemporary theatre, and free outdoor summer shows. The ATC’s home is the Chelsea Theatre Works in Chelsea Square, which houses their three theatres: the Apollinaire Theatre; the Riseman Family Theatre, home of their youth program, the Apollinaire Play Lab; and the Black Box—a co-working rental theatre for Boston Area performing artists. Visit them on the web at www.apollinairetheatre.com.
The fashion show during Friday night’s Night of Performing Arts Celebration – part of the ambitious Black History Month calendar was presented by designer Seneeca Wilson (second from left) of Khy Alexander Bridal by Eclas. Modeling her designs were Khy Alexander (from whom the fashion line was named), Denise Wilson, and Chanyce Kane.
The Chelsea Trailblazers were honored on Monday, Feb. 26, at the Chelsea City Council. The Trailblazers award was given as part of the Black History Month celebration, and a celebration for them was given on Wednesday, Feb. 28. Pictured (L-R) Gerry McCue, Daniel Cruz, Joanne Lee Nieves, Councillor Leo Robinson, Shaquor Sandiford, Betty Boyd, Joan Cromwell, Johnnie Lee, Joe McNamee,Shelagh Mahoney, Sharon Caulfield and Dakeya Christmas.
The Chelsea Black Community’s 2018 Black History Month Celebration continued Tuesday with an art exhibit opening at the City Hall Gallery. Pictured are some of the guests at the event, from left, Councillor-at-Large Calvin Brown, Beverly Martin-Ross, Sharon Caulfield, Councillor Luis Tejada, Yahiya Noor and son, Khasim Noor, Henry Wilson, Lisa Santagate, Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, CBC President Joan Cromwell, and Ronald Robinson. The next Black History Month event is a Taste of Culture Cook-Off Monday at 5 p.m. at La Luz de Cristo Church, 738 Broadway.
Several Chelsea organizations are pulling together this year to sponsor an entire month’s-worth of events around Black History Month, and the events will kick off tonight, Feb. 1, at City Hall with a presentation on the Latimer Society.
“It’s a very, very well put together program and it’s put together by a collaborative effort of many folks and organizations,” said Joan Cromwell of the Chelsea Black Community (CBC). “A lot of us came together and we’ve scheduled a great program for February. It went well last year, but this year we wanted it to be even more exciting.”
Those involved include Salma Taylor and Bea Cravatta of the City, the Latimer Society, Bunker Hill Community College, CAPIC, Chelsea Cable, the People’s AME Church, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, the CBC, and many local residents.
Kicking things off will be Ron and Leo Robinson of the Latimer Society.
Other highlights include a Taste of Culture Cook-Off on Feb. 19 at La Luz de Cristo at 738 Broadway.
There will also be an intergenerational open mic night, an art exhibit, and an evening of performing arts.
Cromwell said at the end of the month, they will have a celebration at the Williams School.
Within that, they will present eight Trailblazer Awards. Those receiving awards will be:
A host of community organizations and city councillors planned to come together with the Chelsea Police to have a Peace Walk from the Police Station to City Hall on July 27.
The walk, which occurred last night, came after Record deadlines.
“In light of recent national violent act, Chelsea residents and leaders are uniting to stand in solidarity with the Chelsea Police Department to promote a message of peace an unity in our community,” read a statement from the organizers.
The Police CommUNITY Standing Together as One peace walk took place on July 27 at 6 p.m. in front of the Police Station. Participants walked to City Hall, where there was to be a short speaking program.
The walk was organized by the Chelsea Black Community (CBC), the Chelsea City Council, the Chelsea Police and concerned community members.
“In light of the recent disturbing and alarming occurrences taking place across the nation involving both violence against police officers – including nine murders – as well as some controversial use of deadly force incidents by police, we as local community stakeholders felt compelled to stand together in unity and demonstrate to our community at large that we are absolutely committed to peace, tranquility and mutual trust,” said Chief Brian Kyes. “Although we are by no means a perfect community, we realize that we must continue to learn from each other each and every day to overcome any challenges that we face together. We view our culturally diverse inner city as a ‘model’ from which many communities could possibly draw from our ongoing successes to overcome any existing obstacles and/or barriers in working towards enhancing police-community relationships.”
Following the controversial police-involved shootings of two black men, one in Minnesota and another in Louisiana, protests and rioting has unfolded across the country. Also in that, time, five police officers were assassinated in Dallas on July 7, and three were assassinated in Baton Rouge. A police officer was also gunned down in Kansas City on Tuesday, July 19, and others have been shot in the meantime.
License Commission member Ken Umemba and other allies who backed his appointment fired back this week at Councillor Roy Avellaneda – a former License Commissioner – after he led an attempt to reject the re-appointment of Umemba last week.
Avellaneda said at the time it was one of many more changes he wanted to make due to concerns he developed while serving on the Commission.
That controversial action last week, which resulted in a 5-5 vote of the Council – which was enough to approve the re-appointment of Umemba, sparked controversy and Umemba said it was an unexpected attack.
“I refute the recent disingenuous and incendiary remarks that Councillor Roy Avellaneda espouses to defame and undermine the stellar record of the Chelsea Licensing Board and myself as a member,” wrote Umemba. “We do not have to search far to realize the progress the board has made in the past few years. A check of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) – decision’s website indicates how we have performed over these years. The Licensing Board literally made fewer trips to ABCC in Boston to appeal cases, than any other urban city in the Commonwealth. The board has demonstrated extreme patience and restraint in making fair and balanced decisions.
“Avellaneda lamented openly in the Chelsea Record newspaper that he was disappointed,” Umemba continued. “Despite the concerns he raised against me by name that ‘the councilors decided to vote more on feelings…over actual things that happen at the meetings,’ he fails flatly here to realize that those councillors aren’t easily cowed or influenced. They are independent-minded and saw through the fog of his innuendos to reject his concerted effort to tarnish a stellar record.”
Umemba pointed to the fact that Avellaneda served only two months ago with him and other commissioners on the very board he criticizes – saying he must have “amnesia” in now throwing his former colleagues under the bus.
Avellaneda said it was no such thing, and that he’s been calling for change since last November – after he was elected to Council, as he doesn’t believe the current Commission has been harsh enough on many of the bars that violate the licensing rules – especially those that frequently do so.
“I have been calling for this for awhile,” he said. “It’s nothing new. Maybe it’s new to him, but it’s not new. I have been working on this with the chief of police, the Law Department and the City Manager. I think I started voicing my concerns back in November. It’s not been done in a vacuum.”
A former License Commissioner, Bruce Black, who served with Avellaneda and Umemba, has also now weighed in on the matter. In a letter to the Council, he scourged those who voted against Umemba and called it politicizing the Board.
“The actions of the band of five council members (Avellaneda, Cortell, Frank, Tejada & Murphy) to ambush Ken Umemba’s re-appointment to the Licensing Commission was shameful, cloaked behind false arguments and hidden agendas,” he wrote. “The assault on the City Charter is equally alarming. The council should keep politics and personal ambition out of the boards and commissions. As for Ken Umemba, I served with him on the Licensing Commission. While I don’t believe I agreed with any commission member 100% of the time, there was never any question with regard to Ken’s integrity, sincerity and desire to serve the City of Chelsea in a positive way…His ethics have never been in question; he has never stood to profit from any action.”
The ethics part of Black’s letter opened up a wider question that has been hinted at for some time, and that is the fact that Avellaneda’s real estate company listed the Las Palmas building for sale only days after Avellaneda and the Board voted to strip the restaurant/bar of its license.
“Within a week of the revocation vote, and before the decision to revoke was even written, Avellaneda was advertising himself as the listing agent for the sale of the Las Palmas property,” wrote Black. “Not only does that explain his attempt to reconsider the revocation in order to obtain a higher sale price, but also reeks of a major conflict of interest, and should be entirely unacceptable.”
Avellaneda said that was partially true, but it wasn’t what it seemed.
“The reality is I voted to take away a license,” he said. “It was a unanimous decision due to an incident. A few days later the owner came to my father’s bakery looking for me and asking me to put the building on the market. Why did she come to me? I don’t know. I do a lot of commercial sales in the city. That’s on record. Many people know that. In hindsight, was it the smartest move to accept a listing from someone I had just voted to take away a license from? No. It probably wasn’t from a standpoint of being above even the perception of doing something wrong. We took it off the market. I think they have it back up, but not with me.
“They’re going to start throwing stones now and I understand because I voted against Plaza Mexico,” he continued. “Leo Robinson already tried to take that to the Ethics Commission because that was one of his hangouts, Plaza Mexico.”
Umemba wrote that the Plaza Mexico decision was one in which the majority of the Board voted to suspend the restaurant and bar while Avellaneda voted to revoke the license. He said Avellaneda continues to march to that minority opinion.
“Avellaneda has continued to stoke and flame his minority opinion regarding the majority decision reached in that case,” he wrote. “His discountenance with the majority rejection of his insatiable draconian desire to ‘revoke’ instead of ‘suspend’ Plaza Mexico’s license highlights his abject lack of understanding of proper application of jurisprudence during his tenure at the Commission.”
Avellaneda disagreed and said the most recent License Commission, on Tuesday night, highlighted why he did not want Umemba back on the Board.
He said discussion was underway about Heller’s Liquors and three violations that they were being cited for, including selling to a minor, over serving and violating their promise not to sell “nips.” In that discussion, Avellaneda said Umemba’s comments were off base and he was talking about a two-week suspension when others were talking about six months.
“Everyone else is talking about six months and he’s talking about two weeks,” he said. “They’ve been before the board multiple times and stood accused of breaking three violations and he’s talking about two weeks. That’s why I didn’t want that re-appointment. This is an example of him being too lax on people. His questioning was also way off with Heller’s. Everyone talked about the three violations and he was talking about the attorney’s website. That’s ridiculous and that’s what I was talking about.”
Black countered that the Council went down a road where they made the process political.
“I write with a sense of disappointment, as it appears that this City Council has begun a process of ignoring the City Charter and injecting politics into Boards and Commissions,” he wrote. “In the process, you have done a great disservice to a respected and honorable member of our community, Kenneth Umemba, who has selflessly volunteered his time and efforts to contribute to the City of Chelsea.”
Avellaneda said it wasn’t political, but was part of the Council process. He also said he’ll stand by his vote and his campaign to clean up the establishments in the city.
“We are appointing judge and jury here,” he said. “That’s what the License Commission is. This was an opportunity to vote out a judge that I think is too lax, especially in light of the concerns in the community about the downtown area by individuals, businesses and parents.”
Chelsea Black Community (CBC) President Joan Cromwell has announced that eight individuals will be honored as “Chelsea Trailblazers” at the third annual CBC Black History Month celebration today at Chelsea High School.
The recipients will be recognized at an awards ceremony in the CHS auditorium following the dinner portion of the program.
The award recipients are Robert “Duke” Bradley, Richard Katz, Shirley Thompson, Maureen Lee, Ronald Robinson, Annie Jones, Police Chief Brian Kyes, and Police Lt. Golden “Rico” Tyre.
“We are honoring these men and women for making a path and continuing to give back to the community,” said Cromwell.
Henry Wilson is the chairman of the event. Dakeya Christmas and Beverly Martin Ross are the leaders of the speaking program.
Admission is free to the celebration. There will be food, activities, and entertainment.
“Come and enjoy this great event with us,” said Cromwell. “We’re going to have dinner from 5 to 6:15 p.m. and then move in to the auditorium for the speaking and awards program.”
Seemingly under the watching eye of a photo of Martin Luther King Jr., Chelsea’s Evan Mitchell gives an enlivened and uplifting version of ‘Break Every Chain’ during Monday morning’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast and Celebration – sponsored by the People’s AME Church and the Chelsea Black Community. Several people came out to the awards ceremony to remember King and to participate in and celebrate acts of service done around Chelsea. The keynote speaker was Rev. Ellis Washington of St. Paul AME in Cambridge.