Jackie Downs works at the Baltimore Office of Promotions and Arts as the Arts Council Director. I’d tell you what that means, but then you wouldn’t listen to the episode and you should. Why? Because the Queens, New York native tells great stories from growing up in the Big Apple, how much she DISLIKED the career she went to college for, and as someone who has worked in both Baltimore and Washington D.C., the cultural differences that help and hinder the D and the M in the DMV.
Alpha Massaquoi Jr. was born on Bushrod Island in Liberia. The island was named after Bushrod Washington, president of the American Colonization Society, or The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America. It encouraged the relocation of freed slaves back to their motherland which was great, only problem is when they selected Liberia as the destination they didn’t (or chose not to) consider the fact that…people were already living there. Listen as Alpha talks about how the decisions of the past impacted his family’s future, struggling to find himself after his family emigrated to the U.S., the start of the Hot Sauce Art Collective, and why he was able to get away with being the family contrarian.
Carleen spent her childhood in one of New York’s most infamous neighborhoods and home to arguably the most legendary hip hop group of all time (hint: 10304). While the world outside was 90s boom bap, puffer coats and pagers, stepping through her family apartment’s threshold transported you to the sunny shores of her ancestral home, Liberia. Not all was sunshine and rainbows in Carleen’s life; she suffered a lot of setbacks that put strain on her mental health, as well as strained her family relationships. But through it all she persevered, found self-love, passion and pride for her heritage through cooking, and has earned the title of Lady Le Monade (and if you pronounce it with an accent you’re bougie).