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Coming up on Connections: Monday, June 10, 2024

Clarissa Uprooted Pythodd Tribute Mural
David Griffin
Clarissa Uprooted Pythodd Tribute Mural

First hour: Discussing Juneteenth and what we can learn about community from the Pythodd jazz club

Second hour: How a new program is helping to make local culinary education more inclusive

What do Stevie Wonder, Irene Reid, and Rochester’s own Roy McCurdy have in common? They all performed at the legendary Pythodd Room in the Clarissa Street neighborhood. From 1942-1973, the club welcomed some of jazz music’s most well-known artists. As the founders of a local Juneteenth event gear up for this month’s activities, they say we need to look at Juneteenth through a broad lens: not only does it mark the end of slavery, but it is also meant to recognize and honor the accomplishments of the Black community. This year, they are focusing on achievements in the world of jazz. In addition to their musical prowess, Black and Brown jazz musicians at the Pythodd helped bring the community together. Some local leaders say that close-knit community has eroded over time. What can we learn from the days of the Pythodd, and how can we carry those lessons into 2024? We discuss it all with our guests:

  • Gloria Johnson-Hovey, founder and director of the Roc Juneteenth 5K Run/Walk, and retired RCSD school social worker
  • Rev. Myra Brown, lead pastor at Spiritus Christi Church and founder of the Spiritus Anti-Racism Coalition
  • Nita Brown, owner of MansaWear
  • Nikia Washington, program officer for equity at the Rochester Area Community Foundation

Then in our second hour, when a local mother wanted to help her adult son sign up for a cooking class, she struggled to find a good fit. Jerri Lynn Sparks’ son has autism, and was eager to learn new culinary skills. That’s when a new idea was born: a program through New York Kitchen called Sous Chef Academy. It’s helping people with autism learn about food preparation, food safety, life skills, and more. Our guests this hour tell the story. In studio:

  • Jerri Lynn Sparks, mother of an adult son with autism
  • Alyssa Belasco, executive director for donor relations and development at New York Kitchen

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.

Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.

Connections with Evan Dawson

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