linda-johnson.jpgBook lovers mixed and mingled at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, July 26, at the second annual South Florida Book Festival. Several bestselling African-American authors graced the Broward County community, sharing their works and inspiring others to embrace a variety of literature.

Guests at Friday night’s cocktail reception, dubbed An Evening with the Stars … A Night of Mystery, Romance & Intrigue, enjoyed live jazz performed by outstanding Dillard High School saxophonist Markus Howell, viewed rare artifacts in the gallery, and experienced lively and moving book talks by the authors,  Reshonda Tate Billingslea, Wahida Clark, S. James Guitard, Angela Henry, Mary B. Morrison, Victoria Christopher Murray, Ancel Pratt III, Mahalia Solages and A.K. Tosu. Literary fans from the tri-county area were certainly treated to a stimulating and cultural evening, which was coordinated by Elaina Norlin, a Broward County regional library manager, and emceed by local author Melinda Pollard. Seen on the scene were René Beal, Donna Ginn, Tim Hardaway, Shantrell Lewis, Sam Morrison, Carmen Nelson, Skye Patrick, William Perry, Robert Runcie, Greg Sidberry, Rose Mary Stiffin, Chantel Diana Walker, Edith Gooden Thompson and other members of the Friends of the AARLCC.

Soprano Erica Williams charmed guests during her summer recital Saturday evening at the Cor Jesu Chapel on the campus of her alma mater, Barry University, in Miami Shores. The program included an impressive selection of pieces by European and American composers from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. She was adeptly accompanied by pianist Jared Peroune, a doctoral candidate in collaborative piano at the University of Miami. The elegant lyric soprano presented the recital as a special thanks to all who sponsored her for the American Singers’ Opera Project Summer Program in Winston-Salem, N.C.  Erica is the daughter of Hattie Ashley of Hollywood, and is completing a master of music degree in vocal performance at the University of Florida. Seen on the scene were Sabriel and Joy Ashley, Isolina Bryant, Dorothy J. Fields, Shirley Fuselier, Juanita C. Johnson, Jeanmaire Jones, Catherine McFarland, Helen Moss, Beverly Nixon, Helen Reed, Melvina Smith and Annette Williams. We are looking forward to hearing more from her following her graduation next spring.

Civic minded and well-dressed ladies from around South Florida gathered at the Taverna Opa Greek restaurant at Mary Brickell Village in downtown Miami on Saturday for an afternoon of networking, strategizing and socializing. The Pumps, Pearls and Politics 2013 event, sponsored by the Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA), featured updates and frank discussion about today’s hot-button political issues by Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson; Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner; Commissioner Katy Sorensen (Miami-Dade County); Gepsie Metellus, executive director of the Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center; Adora Obi Nweze, Florida NAACP President; and Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee.  Other special guests included state representatives Cynthia Stafford and Barbara Watson and international officers of AKA, Susan Simms Marsh and Dolores Y. McKinley.  Seen on the scene hosting the 150-plus attendees were Sandra L. Jackson, chapter president; Eunice J. Davis, first vice-president; Vanessa Byers, Connection  Committee chairperson; Barbara Dent, event chairperson; and committee members Shaneca Adams, Emma Curry, Amy Dawkins, Verna Edington, Constance Gilbert, Saderia Hooks, Debra Owens, Janice Spann-Givens and Margaret Stanley.

Donovan and Jessica (McCrary) Campbell are bursting with joy at the arrival of their firstborn son, Kingston Donovan. Baby Campbell made his debut at 12:56 a.m. on July 11, weighing in at exactly 7 lbs., 20.5 inches. Grandparents Donovan Sr. and Margie Campbell, and Margaret McCrary, are already about town showing off their brag books. Congratulations to all!

Linda J. Johnson, a Miami native, is a veteran educator with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools and a certified etiquette consultant who also serves on nonprofit boards in the community. She can be reached at