Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Top Reasons Why Scandal's Secret Service Agent Tom (played by Brian Letscher) Owned Season 3

by Cyrus Webb

Gladiators around the world have been rejoicing around the world since the return of Shonda Rhimes' hit show Scandal on ABC, wanting to know where the characters they have grown to love (and in some cases loathe) will do next. Week after week since season 4 began there has been one jaw-dropping event after another. A lot of what has been so "twisty crazy good" this season, however, was set up for us in season 3.

In Season 1 we had Amanda Tanner. Season 2 the core of the drama centered around the mole Billy Chambers. For Season 3 the standout for me was one man that I (and I believe millions of others) probably didn't see coming as the common denominator: Secret Service Agent Tom!

I interviewed actor Brian Letscher (who brings Tom's character to life) at the beginning of Season 3, and at the time who would have known that in so many storylines that evolved during the season that he would be in the mix in such a dramatic way. Because of this and the ways he has already been a key player in Season 4 I wanted to share with you....


  • In the first episode of Season 3 we learned that it was President Grant that used Tom to leak Olivia Pope's name to the press, thus triggering the dramatic ending to Season 2.
  • Tom was the constant go-to person for President Grant to stay in touch with (and even rendezvous) with Olivia.
  • In a dramatic turn of events we (along with the new head of B-613 Jake Ballard) learned that Tom is also a part of the shadowy organization entrusted with protecting of the Republic.
  • Duing the Presidential Debate Jake had Tom in waiting to take out Vice President Sally Langston if the need arose (Fortunately it wasn't needed.).
  • In probably the biggest turn of events during the season we discover that Tom was the one who administered the lethal dose to President Grant's son Jerry, setting in motion the return of Rowan (or Papa Pope) as head of B-613.
  • Finally as the Season comes to a close Gladiator Harrison Wright meets his end at the hands ( or bullet) of Tom under the orders of Rowan.

So what other big twists and turns can we expect in Scandal's latest season? I've never been good at guessing, so I won't start now. One thing we can be sure of, though: Shonda Rhimes has never disappointed us in the past, and I'm sure she's not about to start now.

Stay connected with Brian Letscher on Twitter at @BLetscher.

*     Photo courtesy of ABC/Shondaland

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tony Lindsay Presents... A Portrait of Maya Angelou

Ghana became the home of many Black expatriates in the nineteen fifties; after the developing African nation garnered its independence, many Black Americans seeking refuge and a homecoming immigrated there. From 1962 through 1965, Maya Angelou settled there as well. She recorded those years in her 1986 memoir titled All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes. The work was more than Angelou’s simple accounting of her years spent in Ghana: what was offered was the experience of a single mom rearing her son in a foreign land, the reality of an African homecoming for Black Americans, and the linking of Black Americans to their African roots.

Early in the memoir, Angelou defined home as being with her son. She considered time spent with her son as being at home. When they were together, they were home; Angelou, “we had been each other’s home and center for seventeen years.” (5) This idea of home revolving around her son shifted in the work when her son grew into a man. Learning how to adapt to one’s center or home changing was a single mom dynamic that peppered the entire memoir. How she adapted provides sage advice for any parent. With her home or center changed, Angelou like the other Black Americans that lived in Ghana sought a home.

Angelou categorized the Black American immigrants into four groups: whole families who largely supported themselves through farming and teaching, those sent by and supported by the American government, business people who were looking for ground floor opportunities, and writers and artist who had political opinions; she called this last group “a cadre of political émigrés.” She considered herself part of the political group whose “members were impassioned and volatile, dedicated to Africa, and Africans at home and abroad.” (23) 

Despite there being different immigrant groups of Black Americans in Ghana, Angelou felt that they were all lumped into one group by Ghanaians, “American Negros.” This bothered her because she expected to be considered a long lost African sister who had returned home. The reality of being thought of as merely an American Negro brought disillusionment, “At least we wanted someone to embrace us and maybe congratulate us because we had survived. If they felt the urge, they could thank us for having returned.” (22) There was no homecoming parade Angelou or the other artists, but for those who claimed to love Africa, as her group did, Ghana had work.

Angelou’s day-to-day life in Ghana was steeped in African culture and tradition, and she did not miss an opportunity to relate the culture and tradition of Ghana to her Black American upbringing. In the memoir, she laid the two cultures side by side allowing Ghanaian tradition to be seen in Black American culture. From the phrase “Auntie” to the community preparing a meal for a visiting stranger, to the village raising a child, the sameness in both cultures was witnessed. Throughout the memoir, Angelou linked the two cultures, and she did it without formality; the sameness was shown through her workday, through her dating, through her getting her hair done; there was no parade when Black Americans return to Africa, but Angelou wrote the living culture embracing what she called, “Revolutionist Returnees.” (119) Again, there was no formal celebration for the returning Black Americans, but Angelou wrote the African life enveloping them day-by-day. 

It was not until the end of the text that Angelou linked herself to Africa; throughout the work the linking was for the all-inclusive American Negro of which she was part, but at the end the reader experienced Africa wrapping her arms around Maya Angelou. A recurring thought that bothered Angelou throughout memoir was the anger and envy she felt for Ghanaians and all Africans for the selling and abandonment of the Africans that were sold into slavery.  At the end of the memoir, she faced these emotions head on, and experienced a healing that can be passed on to the reader. All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes is an excellent memoir that portrays the political and social climate of Ghana in the 1960’s, and the reader gets to be up-close and personal with one of America’s greatest writers, Maya Angelou. 

Tony Lindsay is an award-winning author and adjunct professor at Chicago State University. His book ONE DEAD DOCTOR was chosen by Conversations Book Club as one of its Top 100 Books of 2012. Lindsay was named Conversations Author of the Year 2012-2013.  His latest book EMOTIONAL DRIPPINGS is available now on He can be reached on Facebook at

There Is Power Housed In Surrendering

by Mary E. Gilder

As I sit in my home office preparing for the launch of my second EVEN A MAN CAN HAVE A BROKEN HEART I began to reflect on my favorite topic: LOVE.

My thoughts lead me to think about how as a Society we are driven by who has what, what IT cost, where IT was purchased, can I purchase IT, how can I forever preserve IT and since I don't have IT I must be  lacking!!! Even if to others we appear to have everything, sometimes it never seems to be enough.

Recently, I moved from one residence to another and that move prompted me to lighten my load. Initially, the thought of letting go of the possessions I had not utilized in years was difficult for me to process, but once I let go of the boxes upon boxes---upon boxes---of 'stuff', it was healing. I say healing because my journey felt lighter. Of the many items I donated, I can't recall 80% of what I once viewed as sacred treasures.

Numerous donations were given to a local Shelter and days later when I returned, I observed residents wearing some of the items I donated. My heart rejoiced.

Once I let go of my attachment to the excess, my heart was more open to focus on what was truly important; which for me is LOVE and the relationships within my life. Did you know that there is a POWER housed in surrendering?

My advice to you as we transition into my favorite season, lighten your load, let go of the excess and focus on all the represents true wealth. For me it's represented in family, friends and maintaining a strong foundation built on LOVE.

Love, Peace and Endless Joy,  

Mary E. Gilder is the author of the recently released non-fiction title Even a Man can Have a Broken Heart and the award winning novel, A Misrepresentation of Myself.  Mary is available for book signings and speaking engagements. Contact her at: or visit her website at:

Advice from Super Bowl 2014 Champion Michael Robinson: 'Talk To Your Kids Every Day'

Michael Robinson, Super Bowl Champion 2014 of the Seattle Seahawks, is the proud father to four kids. He recently caught up with parenting expert Daddy Nickell for My Life As A Dad, the popular new web series that delves into the lives of celebrity and professional athlete dads.

During the interview, the NFL star chats about how he celebrated his Super Bowl 2014 win with his kids. He also shares his top advice for new NFL players who are about to become a father.

Daddy Nickell: How did you celebrate winning Super Bowl 2014 with your kids?

Michael Robinson: “Because it was in New York and we were expecting bad weather, I didn’t bring them all out there. They were in Richmond, Virginia with their grandparents. They all got in front of the TV and watched it. When I got home, they were so excited…they thought that I was actually bringing confetti home with me! That was very exciting for them. They told me about everything that went on in the game…they talked about Percy and Russell Wilson and said, ‘I saw you daddy, you caught a pass!’ It was so great to share that moment with them.”

Daddy Nickell: How is the one-year-old doing?

Michael Robinson: “My one-year-old actually came to New York with me! She wasn’t one at the time, but she was about to be one. I had the chance to see her right after the game. Being able to see my kid after being out on the field, going to war with my teammates, and battling it out kind of neutralizes me. She isn’t worried about whether I made the right block or whether I am going to beat the Saints in the first round of the play-offs—she’s just worried about seeing daddy. I think that was probably the best moment of my life.”

Daddy Nickell: What is your advice for young NFL players who are about to become a father?

Michael Robinson: “Football is a stressful sport, and sometimes it’s hard to keep all of the stresses associated with football on the field. Sometimes the stresses do come home with you, because as soon as you turn on the TV there is ESPN, NFL Network, and other news channels talking about it. Also, you go on social media and they are talking about it. It’s kind of hard to get it out of your system. If you come home and take the approach of ‘Here I am,’ your life will be a lot better. You won’t worry about the stresses so much because you will be so concerned about how your kids’ day was.

I have a four-year-old son who will be five in November. He tells me about preschool every single day. That’s one thing I would advise to new fathers: talk to your kids every day and see what is going on. He tells me each letter and the numbers he is learning every day. He also reads my shirts sometimes. My ten-year-old has to also tell me a current event every day.  I don’t care if he catches it on the Internet or while he is in school or reading the newspaper, or if he asks the teacher to be informed.

My six-year-old girl is the same way—when she goes to her Kindergarten class, I say, ‘Tell daddy something!’ I would advise all NFL fathers to talk to their kids and be there and be present with them. Try to keep all the football worries out of the picture during this time.”

My Life As A Dad ( is the first show of its kind to delve into the lives of celebrity and professional athlete dads to get their answers to important questions, such as how they feel about being a dad, their parenting philosophies, how they balance their family life with their professional life and, in some cases, how they relate their unique upbringing to being a dad today. The series features interviews with the likes Dancing with the Stars winner J.R. Martinez, NBA star Chris Paul, TV Host AJ Calloway, 2014 Super Bowl Champion Michael Robinson, and many more! You can subscribe to MLAAD on YouTube and follow them on Facebook ( and Twitter (