One of B.Michael’s first jobs after leaving IBM was with the Church Avenue Merchant Block Association (rebranded officially as CAMBA the way KFC no longer refers to its Kentucky origins).
Within two weeks of submitting his first report below, as B.Michael told it, the day before the end of the end of his three-month probationary period, he was called into the office of the executive director, a white woman who, according to the CAMBA website in 2020, is still in the position 30 years later. He had been receiving subtle messages that his vision for the program was not well-received and that he was not a fit. As he suspected, he was informed that he would be let go. Without missing a beat, B.Michael conveyed something to the effect of, “What’s your offer (to have me go away and not file a discrimination complaint with the NYC Human Rights Commission)?”
In 1990, Craig Harris sent out a Kwanzaa greeting, which B.Michael received, in which he cites some of his Black Queer literary contemporaries, including Donald Woods and Assotto Saint.
That year, Craig also hosted a beautiful Kwanzaa spread in his New Jersey apartment. B.Michael attended with his new lover John Manzon-Santos whom he introduced to Craig for the first time. Let us know if you were present! Bonus if you can remind us which of the seven Kwanzaa principles Craig chose to celebrate.
Step One towards B.Michael fulfilling his dream to teach high school . . .
A few months later, he would start at Norman Thomas High School, an experience he reflects upon in his essay, I Have Come Here to Die.
Denise Carty-Bennia, B.Michael’s dear friend and mentor from law school, died tragically at the age of 43. Her obituary appeared in the New York Times.
At Northeastern’s memorial for Denise, B.Michael was one of two Alumni Tributes; he read a poem he wrote called “Shades of U.”
The Northeastern University School of Law created the Denise Carty-Bennia Memorial Bar Award in her honor.
A year after her death, the City University of New York School of Law at Queens College dedicated the Denise Carty-Bennia Auditorium:
Just a few examples of Carty-Bennia’s legal scholarship and leadership that B.Michael kept in his files.
A discussion on “Affirmative Action: Where Are We Headed” held by Carty-Bennia at Barnard College, her undergraduate alma mater, was recorded in 1990.
Since the publication of Other Countries’ first journal in 1987, the Board of Directors discussed in earnest if/how/when to manifest their second volume. Once they decided to move forward, job one was to identify a managing editor, a role eventually taken on by B.Michael. The announcement was circulated across Vice-Chair Roy Gonsalves‘ signature.
The initial invitation for work had a submission deadline of February 15, 1991.
With a subsequent call for submissions by June 15, 1991.
B.Michael wrote this poem in honor of activist Keith Cylar. He recorded a conversation with Keith (audio and transcript forthcoming) as part of a series of interviews with Black and Brown Queer men involved with ACT UP. He quilted them together in a kind of song cycle honoring Keith and three other warriors who deeply inspired him.
The curators of What I Miss? are not convinced that this is B.Michael’s handwriting! B.Michael was a proud leftie and this seems to be penned by a right-hander. If it was YOU, please let us know so we can acknowledge you!