TheBlackList Pub

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April 30, 2009

Raynard Jackson

There is so much negative in our world that sometime we forget about the good that is all around and the God that is in good.

A few weeks ago I was asked by Isaiah Washington (of Grey’s Anatomy fame) to help him with a fundraising dinner for his foundation, The Gondobay Manga Foundation. He established the foundation to help the people of Sierra Leone in West Africa. The dinner was held last week in Washington, DC and I was glad to play a small part.

Isaiah has a true passion for Sierra Leone specifically and people in general. He had several of his Hollywood friends in attendance at the dinner who added a great deal to the event. I had the chance to meet and talk with Forest Whitaker. Forest is a very imposing figure, but surprisingly, he is very humble and soft spoken. There was a gentleness to him that draws you to him. I have always been a big fan of his and anything he is associated with, I will support. His support for Isaiah and The Gondobay Manga Foundation was very self evident.

Another friend of Isaiah’s that I met and talked with was actor Jeffry Wright. Again, another very humble person. He reminds me of a junior James Earl Jones with his distinctive voice that makes you hang on to every word he says.

Washington Wizard’s center, Etan Thomas was also in attendance. A very soft-spoken person until he touches the microphone. He is just as known for reciting his original poetry as he is for his basketball skills. Now, how cool is that, a professional athlete who has social consciousness voiced through poetic prose. Look for big things from him away from basketball.

It was once said that one measure of a man is the caliber of people who choose to associate with you. By that standard, Isaiah is truly a very generous, decent person. People willing to fly across the country to attend his wonderful event was a true sign of their commitment to Isaiah and his foundation. He even had Sara Ferguson, the Duchess of York, as his keynote speaker.

I have been fortunate enough to attend some of the most elegant, high powered dinners across this country, but this one was one of the best by far. Yes, we had a worthy cause, but just as important was the caliber of people who were in attendance. I am not talking about the VIPs, but regular people who cared about this particular cause.
Sometimes events with celebrities can be kind of “uppity.” But, at this event everyone mingled and interacted with one another and there was just a sweet spirit throughout the evening.

So, the next time you hear negative things about Hollywood or professional athletes, just think of the heart of Isaiah Washington, the gentleness and humility of Forest Whitaker, the oratory of Jeffrey Wright or the quiet poetry of Etan Thomas.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to have each of these people on my radio show to talk about the journeys taken to get them to the level of success they have achieved. I want to explore the heart of Isaiah and why he has a passion for Sierra Leone. I want Forest to allow me to understand his path to humility. I want Jeffry to describe his road less traveled. I want Etan to share the source of his quiet voice. Sometimes in sitting, we can stand tall. I want me and my listeners to sit at each of these people’s feet and learn of their ways.

This was a wonderful event for a good cause. So, I strongly encourage everyone to remember that there is a lot of good in the world and a lot of people are doing good things. So, please support Isaiah’s Gondobay Manga Foundation. Support Forest’s and Jeffrey’s movies and TV shows. Take the time and write the heads of movie and TV studios about their work and let these executives know that you want to see more work from these talented actors. Make the commitment to buy Etan’s book of poetry titled “More Than an Athlete: Poems by Etan Thomas.”

So, next time you are fed up with Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Pacman Jones, or Terrell Owens; think of Isaiah, Forest, Jeffrey and Etan. Just because you didn’t hear about the event, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Just because you don’t hear about these celebrities charitable work, doesn’t mean they are not doing it. And just because your life may not be going good at present doesn’t mean God is not good.

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-based political consulting/government affairs firm. You can listen to his radio show every Saturday evening from 7-9:00 p.m. Go to to register and then click on host, and then click on his photo to join his group.

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