“caramel colored men . . .”

B.Michael (“Bert”) received inspiration for one of his poems, “The Photograph,” from a framed image he had prominently displayed in his living room. William (“Bill”) Wesley Hansard, Jr. [b. August 16, 1937, New York NY; d. May 30, 1989, Boston MA] and Lester (“Les”) Howard Bunyon were both Black gay men and close friends of Bert’s who died of HIV/AIDS prior to 1993.

[L-R] Les, Bill, Bert, most likely in Boston, Massachusetts, some time between September 1981 and July 1987.

Les at Christmas, Bill with Bert. Both pictures taken some time between 1981-89. Both photos, which had been foamcore-mounted, were most likely special to Bert.

Elect Mel King to Congress!

B.Michael would have first encountered Mel King early on in his law school sojourn at Northeastern’s Minority Orientation in May 1981. King was among the leaders tapped to address incoming students of color and offer his unique perspective on what it means to study law in Boston.

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B.Michael would have felt a connection to this visionary community organizer and Black son of immigrants from Guyana and Barbados via Canada. (B.Michael’s own father’s people had immigrated from the Bahamas.) A handful of years later, King would run for federal office and enjoy B.Michael’s support. The circular below lived in B.Michael’s files in a folder with King’s name.

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Denise Carty-Bennia :: Friend

Denise — B.Michael’s cherished mentor and friend — figures prominently in two of his poems: “Shades of U,” which he wrote upon her passing in 1990, and “No Space at Forty-One,” which he wrote less than two years before his own death in 2001.


A postcard to B.Michael from Denise in 1986, most likely during summer break.

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dear bert,

greetings from the southern hemisphere. aruba, 12 miles from venezuela, is a desert-like paradise. sun, sand and even blowing tropical breezes. i am trying to relax and clear my brain, but it isn’t easy. even here, there are plenty of people trying to lay a trip on a single Black woman. i trust all goes well. don’t you dare move to n.y. before i get back! call you when i get back.

love, denise