Board Members & Praetorians

Board Members

Edward L. Powe, Ph.D.

JavaScript tools Born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1941, Dr. Edward Powe speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Hausa, Kiswahili and Indonesian. He has also studied Malagasy, Zulu, Yoruba, Quechua, Kiche, Latin, German, Tagalog, and Tamil for research purposes. Dr. Powe has a PhD in African Languages & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.A. in Linguistics (with a minor in Arabic) from Indiana University – Bloomington, and a B.A. (with distinction) in Spanish (with a minor in Portuguese) from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He was a former Fulbright Scholar in Brazil (1967-68), Ford Foundation Fellow in Colombia, and a Center for Arabic Studies Abroad (C.A.S.A.) fellow in Egypt (1970-71). Before retiring, he held various administrative and teaching appointments in the US and overseas. He has traveled extensively in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America and has been engaged in full time research and writing since 1992. He has self-published over 109 titles to date including 28 graphic novels. See his website at for further details.

Reginald L. Powe

JavaScript tools CEO and Founder of CCI (Curriculum Concepts International), Reggie Powe oversees the implementation of the company’s contracts with the nation’s largest and most influential educational publishers. Powe also founded Metropolitan Teacher and Learning, a publishing company dedicated to improving the performances of urban students of all ages.

With famed author, Alex Haley, Mr. Powe created a series of 26 nonfiction chapter books titled Stories of America. This series features both the well known and seldom-told stories of our nation’s history, and celebrates the high points without shying away from the low points.

In partnership with Columbia University, Mr. Powe researched the history of Americans in New York, both the city and the state, and produced multi-media program titled Mapping the African American Experience in New York. This program includes unique texts, photographs, and maps the chronicle the unique history from 1626 to the present day.

Mr. Powe has travelled extensively in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Europe, and the Caribbean, and has created more than twenty cultural videos for the education market.

Reggie Powe is a graduate of Villanova University and a Marine Corps officer. He lives in New York City.

James William Frost, Ph.D.

JavaScript tools Born in Harlem and raised in New York City. Dr. Frost received a BS in physics and mathematics from the City College of New York, City University of New York (CUNY), and a MS and Ph.D. in experimental physics from New York University. He spent four years living and teaching physics at Bayero University in Kano Nigeria. He now teaches physics and astronomy at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY. Since 1994, he has worked at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University, pursuing radiative light studies of the planetary atmospheres of Jupiter and the earth. Dr. Frost also has interests in studying the cultures of Nigeria, Senegal, Cuba, and Black African Americans.

C. Daniel Dawson

JavaScript tools A multi-talented artist, Prof. Dawson has worked as a photographer, filmmaker, curator, arts administrator, consultant and scholar. He has served as Curator of Photography, Film and Video at the Studio Museum in Harlem (NYC), Director of Special Projects at the Caribbean Cultural Center (NYC), Program Manager at the American Museum of Natural History and Curatorial Consultant and Director of Education at the Museum for African Art (NYC). As a photographer, he has shown in over 40 exhibitions. In addition he has curated more than 70 exhibitions including Harlem Heyday: The Photographs of James Van Der Zee and The Sound I Saw: The Jazz Photographs of Roy DeCarava and is currently a curator with the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s curatorial team. Prof. Dawson has also been associated with many prize- winning films including Head and Heart by James Mannas and Capoeiras of Brazil by Warrington Hudlin. He has worked as a consultant for the Cooper Hewitt Museum, International Center for Photography, Lincoln Center, Ralph Appelbaum Associates and three different divisions of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. As a scholar, he has lectured at the House of World Cultures-Berlin, the Kit Tropenmuseum-Amsterdam, the University of California-Berkeley, University of Texas-Austin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, New School for Social Research, Stanford University, Columbia University, Princeton University and the Federal University of Bahia and Rio de Janeiro-Brazil. Prof. Dawson has also taught seminars on African Spirituality in the Americas at Columbia University, University of Iowa, New York University and Yale University. He is a currently a curatorial consultant for La Casita, a division of Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors specializing in presenting international oral traditions, and an exhibition curatorial consultant for Jazz at Lincoln Center. Prof. Dawson is presently teaching in the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University and in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.

Click to view full Biography.

Danny Dawson

Andrea Newton

JavaScript tools Andrea L. Newton is a homeowner and lifelong resident of Paterson, NJ.  A social service professional and mentor to at-risk youth and young adults, Andrea is committed to affecting positive changes and empowering those in her community through music, arts, and culture.  She graduated from Lacordaire Academy and went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology/Criminology from Montclair State University.  After graduation, her passion for music remained which led her to open a recording studio and start an Indie label, Gillateam Entertainment, where she worked with developing unsigned artists, along with her own projects.  Andrea is currently a Program Monitor at the Passaic County One-Stop Career Center/Workforce Development and, in 2018, completed a Master’s Degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Family and Child Studies at Montclair State University.

Taking a back seat to the music industry to focus on business, neighborhood revival and real estate projects, Andrea is a founding member of Endless Ventures Enterprise, an LLC focused on funding and supporting minority small businesses and entrepreneurs through partnerships, community engagement events, and activities.  She serves as co-chair of the Sustainability & Outreach committee of the Paterson Coalition against Substance Abuse (P-CASA) and serves on the Board of Directors of the BLAC Foundation (Black Languages Arts & Culture), a 501 (c) 3 dedicated to creating a greater awareness of and appreciation for the history and culture of Black people around the world.  Andrea is also the Vice President of Alliance for Sustainable Communities (ASC), a 501 (c) 4 committed to creating strong sustainable communities revitalized through local business development and political engagement.

In response to the needs of her community, Andrea founded Building Lives and Communities in 2015, a 501 (c) 3 centered in Afrocentric frameworks and programming that create and foster love, care, and concern for children and families of color. She is a member of the NAACP Paterson Chapter and was inducted into Omicron Beta Theta of Kappa Omicron Nu, National Honor Society in 2014.  Andrea is also recognized as a Lifetime Member of the Worldwide Who’s Who Registry of Executives, Professionals, and Entrepreneurs in the 2014-2015 Edition.

Joshua Powe

JavaScript tools Serves as CEO and Co-Founder of LinkIt!. In addition to more than 10 years of experience in educational publishing and technology, Powe has spearheaded a number of successful entrepreneurial endeavors including STAR POWER, a New-York based brand consultancy that was recognized as a company to watch in 2001 by Fortune Small Business Magazine, and The DEN, one of Harlem’s trendiest dining and nightlife destinations. Prior to joining LinkIt!, Powe served as VP of Sales & Marketing for Metropolitan Teaching and Learning, where he managed the development of major custom publishing initiatives for Florida, Chicago Public Schools, and the New York-based tutorial company, Platform Learning. Mr. Powe graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1998 with a degree in the History of Science and is pleased to serve on the BLAC Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Derek L. Newton

BA Cheyney University (in Business/Hotel Management).

Derek assists the Vice President of Operations with manager development, operations strategy and daily execution of full-service restaurant units, and is expected to play a key role in the openings of new business units. With an international background that dots the globe in America, the Caribbean and Africa, Derek is a well-rounded hospitality professional with more than 35+ years of management experience and deep-rooted experiences with musical hospitality.

Derek has a proven track record of successful and innovative business launches, demonstrating his ability to make a significant impact on return on investment in challenging, competitive and dynamic growth organizations.

His work as a consultant and managing operator spans such outlets as World Cafe Live, in Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE; Washington, DC’s Posh Supper Club; BET Soundstage in Turks & Caicos and St. Kitts; Carambola Beach Resort in St. Croix, USVI; BET Soundstage, Largo MD; BET JAZZ, Washington DC; BET Soundstage, Downtown Disney, Orlando Fl; Tres Jazz, Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, NV; New York City’s Motown Café; and Marriott International Hotels.

A driven team player and natural leader, he has made a quick professional climb, most recently working as a Multi-Unit General Manager for World Cafe Live in Philadelphia and Wilmington DE and a consultant for RLJ (Robert L. Johnson) Companies in Bethesda, MD and Monrovia, Liberia.

Derek was appointed as a board member of the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation and Downtown Visions Business Improvement District Company. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from Cheyney University and has been an active member of ISES, the Restaurant Association and USVI Hotel Association board member throughout the years.

Henry John Drewal

JavaScript tools Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Henry John Drewal received his BA from Hamilton College. After graduation he taught French and English and organized arts camps in Nigeria. During two years in Nigeria he apprenticed himself to a Yoruba sculptor – a transformative experience. He went on to interdisciplinary studies at Columbia University in African art history and culture, receiving two Masters’ degrees and a PhD. He has has taught at Cleveland State University, UC-Santa Barbara, and SUNYPurchase, and served as Curator of African Art at The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Neuberger Museum. Since 1991 he has been the Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Adjunct Curator of African Art at the Chazen Museum of Art, UW-Madison. He has published several books and edited volumes and many articles on African/African Diaspora arts and curated several major exhibitions, among them: Introspectives: Contemporary Art by Americans and Brazilians of African Descent; Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and thought; Beads, Body, and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe; Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas, Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria. Among his numerous awards are several NEH grants, two Fulbright Research Awards (Brazil and Benin), a Metropolitan Museum of Art Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Kamau-Rashid, Ph.D

JavaScript toolsDr. Kamau Rashid is a Chicago-based scholar whose work focuses on the history and culture of Africans both on the continent and in the Americas. He is especially interested in language–notably language revitalization, indigenous knowledges, and movements for social transformation. A key focus of his scholarship has been the social theories of W.E.B. Du Bois as well as Jacob H. Carruthers, a key theorist of the Chicago School of African-centered thought.
In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Dr. Rashid is active in a number of community initiatives. His work includes supporting institutions that work to build community-food security such as Your Bountiful Harvest Family Farm, facilitating environmental education for youth and adults, and being actively engaged in community education and cultural enrichment via a male rites-of-passage program (Akoben Rites-of-Passage Society) and teaching Capoeira under the auspices of the Chicago Malandros de Mestre Touro.
Dr. Rashid is a member and Education Committee chair of the Kemetic Institute of Chicago, a president of the Midwest Region of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC), he is also an Associate Professor of Educational Foundations and Inquiry at National Louis University.

Kamau Rashid CV


Wesley James Cox

JavaScript toolsWesley James Cox is an African-centered scholar from St. Louis, Missouri. He received his Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies (BA) from Southeast Missouri State University. He also studied abroad at Cardiff University, Wales where he obtained his Masters in International Relations. His policy and research interests are part regional with an emphasis on global affairs relevant to U.S. interests abroad; and part topical with a focus on global justice, humanitarian intervention, national security, secrecy, and accountability.

Apart from his academic affairs, Wesley serves as the Blac Foundation Umlabalaba Praetorian, advocating and spreading the game throughout the Midwest region of the United States. He is also a capoeira student of Dr. Kamau Rashid, under the Chicago Malandros de Mestre Touro.

J. Vern Cromartie, Ed.D.

JavaScript toolsDr. J. Vern Cromartie was born and raised in southeast Georgia. He is proud to be a man of Black African descent with a Geechee and Gullah heritage. Dr. Cromartie is a professor of sociology and chairman of the Sociology Department at Contra Costa College. He earned his Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco. His second area of doctoral specialization was curriculum and instruction. Dr. Cromartie also has a M.A. in sociology from California State University, East Bay; a M.A. in humanities from California State University, East Bay; a M.S. in counseling from California State University, Eat Bay; and a B.S. in human relations and organizational behavior from the University of San Francisco. Dr. Cromartie serves on the Editorial Board of several scholarly journals and is a member of the African Heritage Studies Association (AHSA) Board of Directors and the chairman of the AHSA Education Commission; National Social Science Association (NSSA) Board of Directors; and the California Sociological Association (CSA) Governing Council. His research interests include race and ethnicity, social movements, and the sociology of education. Dr. Cromartie has published 11 books and more than 60 scholarly essays. One of his books is titled Morgan-Frazier Family Clan: Chronicles of a Black Family with a Geechee and Gullah Heritage in Essays, Interviews, Research Reports, Documents, and Photographs. His individual essays have been published by the National Social Science Association; Oxford University Press; Greenwood Press; National Association of African American Studies; California Sociological Association; Clute Institute for Academic Research; Black Languages, Arts & Culture Foundation (BLAC); Jeremiah B. Sanderson Leadership Institute; and other entities. In addition to his scholarly writings, Dr. Cromartie is an award-winning poet. Of his 11 books, 4 are collections of poetry. Dr. Cromartie presently serves as the BLAC as a Praetorian and Director of the BLAC Occasional Papers Series.

Fritz Pointer

JavaScript toolsFritz has a BA, English, Creighton University, 1966; MA, African Studies, UCLA, 1971; MA, African Languages and Literature, U. Wisconsin, Madison, 1979. He has published three books: A Passion to Liberate: LaGuma’s South Africa – Images of District (2001) African Oral Epic Poetry: Praising the Deeds of a Mythic Hero (2013) and Fairytale: The Pointer Sisters’ Family Story. His book Daniel Pule Kunene: A Life will be published by Africa World Press this fall (2022). He currently (2019) serves as Vice President of Democratic World Federalists (DWF) of San Francisco. He also serves as Blac Foundation Praetorian for encouraging debate as well as uplifting our spirit.

Lacouir D. Yancey

JavaScript toolsLacouir D. Yancey (aka Bboy Spirit), is a Madison WI based community organizer whose work focuses on building mind, body health and wellness. He is the Co-founder of The Black Poets Society (a live hip hop music group) of Madison WI, 1992 and TRUTH 4CHANGE organization (t.r.u.t.h. – a community-based organization that provides social, economic, health & wellness resources for young adults) est. 2020. Lacouir is also the founder of The Soul Hydraulics (Break dance crew) of Madison WI, 1998. He is a Licensed manual and bodywork therapist, a certified personal trainer, and corrective exercise and urban movement specialist. Lacouir’s movement background started in gung fu “southern style praying mantis”. He began learning the foundations of breakin’ in the early 80’s and eventually got into gymnastics which led to him receiving an All American Award in gymnastics floor exercise. He has trained in capoeira since 1996 with a focus on the style of Angola since 2005. He has trained with FICA under M. Cobra Mansa, M. Beto and CM. Huu since 2010. Lacouir has also served as a guest Instructor in the UW Madison Dance Department teaching break dance and capoeira foundations for the past 9 years. Lacouir has been a guest performer with the Peggy Choy dance company for the past ten years. He blends a multitude of movement arts and manual therapy into an movement art therapy form he calls “Freedom Movement Therapy. Lacouir currently directs the BLAC Foundation’s FACA-US initiative for which see:

Ivan B. Watkins

JavaScript toolsIvan is a nationally and internationally recognized Fine and Public Artist/Muralist, Ethno- Historian, Lecturer, Filmmaker, and Arts Educator/Administrator, Curator and Event Coordinator. Ivan was born and raised in New Orleans a graduate of Brother Martin H.S. and NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) 1986. Earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1990 and Master’s Degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago 2003 and a PhD (abd) Candidate in Anthropology & History in Urban Studies at the University of New Orleans.

Since1989 he has led dozens of (community-based) murals, mosaics, and sculptures throughout the United States and abroad. As an Arts Administrator, he created and managed the Arts Partners in Residence Program as the Central Administration Cultural Arts Director in Marketing for the Chicago Park District, led Urban Anthropology interns for the (CCUC – Center for Cultural Understanding and Change) of the Chicago Field Museum, and has served as a Professor of Art History, Sociology, and Community Engagement at Northeastern Illinois University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Dillard University.

Committed to offering social catharsis through Public Education, Ivan’s work has engaged tens of thousands of students directly through workshops, lectures, residencies, as well as through curriculum and program development, partnerships and Arts Administration Management. As the Public Engagement Manager for Synaptent LLC until 2013-2024, he garnished the highest ratings and hundreds of thousands of online reviewsfor renowned customer service and management.

Ivan has been a Guest Lecturer of Anthropology and Black Indian History at the American Anthropology Association Conference, Midwest Anthropology Conference, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, UCLA, Tarrant County Community College, Elkins College and West Virginia University, Tom Dent Lecture Series for the Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Congo Square Festival, and for the Black X Red = Maroon Festival at Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center.

In his early 20’s he joined the Board of Governors of the Guild Complex a non-profit literary arts organization and produced a series Multi-Disciplinary Arts Exhibits, Theatrical productions and a Black Indian Humanities Festival (Zambo 1995-96). Ivan has also served on the Board of the New Orleans Film Festival. Recognized for his expertise in public engagement through the Arts he has served on Grant Review Panels for the Arts Council of New Orleans, the City of Chicago, City of Evanston, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

His work in Arts Education has included multi-cultural Arts Integration curriculum development, teacher training, Evaluation Surveys of Arts Education programs and inclass workshops.

Not only a scholar but an integral part of the New Orleans Black Indian Masking tradition, he’s masked with the Northside Skull & Bone Gang, til he became the “WildMan” of the Golden Feather Hunters formerly of the Yellow Pocahontas Tribe of New Orleans Black Indians.”

Ivan’s Documentary projects in varying stages of completion have been screened in Film Festivals, Museum/Gallery Exhibitions, Cable Access and Global TV: ZAMBO – African and Native American Cultural Survival, “The Blackheart Man” – exploring the theme of self-sacrifice in folk heroes and leaders, “Success in the Making” – a biographical portrait of TRU Records visual artist Kernell Reynolds and the emergence of Gangsta Rap entrepreneurship.

Ivan is also known in the world of martial arts as a Treinel (Teacher) of Capoeira Angola and has taught Capoeira courses at the Dance Center of Columbia College and throughout various schools and workshops around the country and abroad. His research on Black Indians, Maroons and Capoeira led him to receive funding from the Palmares Foundation in Brazil, where he has conducted research, screenings, lectures and mural workshops as well.

Ivan B. Watkins CV

Sonke Mdluli

JavaScript toolsSonke Mdluli has a Master’s in Hospitality and Tourism from Durban University of Technology (DUT) in 2023, Durban, South Africa. MBA in Tourism Development from Management College of South Africa (MANCOSA) in 2012. National Diploma in Tourism Management from Durban University of Technology (2002).

He has been working for the Tourism Sector more than 19 years up to date. He is working for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal Authority based in Durban South Africa, which is a Marketing body for the province Nationally and International. Mr. Mdluli has travelled in other countries for work purposes including France, Netherlands, Swaziland, and Mozambique. He acted as a Manager in Tourism Development, transformation, and as a Manager in Tourism information services. He is working as a Senior Information Officer under Tourism Information Services Department.

Sonke is serving as a Black foundation uMlabalaba Praetorian, encouraging a positive thinking to the community by spreading the game through KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa. Also, he has transcribed and translated some work for the Foundation, Zulu to English. Conversant in isiZulu, English, Tsonga and basic in French, Portuguese, and siSwati.

Elvis Orlando Mejia Tol

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Born in 1996 in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, Elvis Orlando Mejia Tol (aka Chus) is currently pursuing a University degree in Systems Engineering after having now completed all the pre-requisite course requirements. Chus is a skilled artisan and embroiderer, as well, having designed and created our BLAC Foundation ear-rings in return for scholarship support. Moreover, he is also a competent artist, having illustrated several of the graphic novels created by Dan Aiki Publications. In addition to these and other skills, Chus is an accomplished cook and umlabalaba player, having won several BLAC Foundation tournaments held over the years in his hometown. He has such a mastery of the game that he consistently defeats both myself and Wesley Cox (our chief umlabalaba praetorian) in friendly matches. In recognition of these and other qualifications he has been appointed as the Umlabalaba coordinator for Guatemala, responsible for the maintenance and promotion of the game in his country.

Doyin Adenuga

JavaScript toolsDoyin Adenuga has an MLIS degree from the University of British Columbia (2013), Canada, and has been a librarian since 2015. He has spent ten years in computer/systems support in Nigeria, as well as five years as technology coordinator/assistant director at the National African Language Resource Center, previously at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He got introduced to BLAC Foundation in Madison WI, in 2007. Doyin has faithfully served as Praetorian for BLAC Foundation’s website design and maintenance for the past 15 years.