One Jazz Figure Omitted
I enjoyed the article "D.C., Cradle of Great Music" [District Extra, July 29], but the writer did not mention the one person in D.C. who, I think, should get credit for helping keep jazz alive and available to us little folk: Earl Banks.
Through his Lettumplay organization, he has presented great jazz performers in our neighborhoods for a small price of admission. He and fellow jazz champion Dick Smith began many concerts at churches, such as the jazz series at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest. He is currently working with the Church of the Holy Communion in Southeast.
He also holds an annual day at the veterans hospital for the jazz lovers there, and he takes jazz to some senior citizens homes, as well as some nightspots and other places around town. He coordinates an outdoor memorial concert for deceased artists, supporters and jazz lovers.
Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) has had Mr. Banks organize and present several performances for the Congressional Black Caucus at their convention. Other congressmen have used his Lettumplay groups for different events.
Along with Smith and Roberta McCleod, the director of the Blackburn Center, he has held the Salute in Jazz for Martin Luther King at Howard University for the last 18 years. This MLK Day event at the Blackburn Center is free and open to the public. Nearly 100 performers present their art all day, donating their time and talent to a crowd that grows larger each year.
These are just a few things that I know Earl Banks does in the music field. As a jazz lover, I believe Earl Banks should be included whenever talk is of jazz in D.C.
Unsafe at Bus Station
I write to express my extreme frustration and dissatisfaction with the taxicab services and facilities at the Greyhound bus terminal in Northeast. The current conditions and setting are dangerous, intimidating and utterly unacceptable.
My boyfriend and I arrived in D.C. at 1:15 a.m. Aug. 26 and had a very difficult and scary time finding a taxi ride home. First, we were approached inside the terminal by a man who offered us a ride. This is a clear violation of the station policies, but there were no uniformed police officers nearby to enforce this policy or ensure safety around the station.
Once outside, when we found an on-duty taxi and asked for a ride to Brookland, a short, eight-minute trip, the driver locked his doors and refused to let us in the cab.
There were no other taxis around to give us a ride home. We felt stranded. Then, as we stood on the sidewalk with our bags, we were approached by three men who, one after the other, offered us a ride home in unmarked cars -- two of whom identified the same car parked across the street. One even presented his driver's license for us to hold until we reached our destination. We refused all offers. There weren't any policemen or security personnel to be found outside the station.
After another five minutes of standing on the sidewalk in front of the terminal, a taxi finally drove by on First Street, and the driver politely took us home.
There was an insufficient number of taxis at the station for all the passengers who had just arrived in D.C. and wished to head home. We felt unsafe and exposed from the minute we entered the terminal until the moment we left the area. We seriously question the intentions of the men who approached us around the station. We also felt discriminated against because we live in Northeast, and the drivers probably preferred a more expensive fare (read Northwest).
As D.C. residents, we are disturbed that these conditions exist. We recommend that uniformed police offers patrol the Greyhound bus terminal on a regular basis, and especially late at night. We recommend a crackdown on the drivers around the station. This potentially dangerous situation shouldn't happen to any traveler in the heart of the nation's capital.