A Message from The JELANI Institute

Dear Friends:

We at the JELANI Institute thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support of our work over the past three years to keep Jelani Manigaultís spirit alive.

Another annual celebration will be held at Teaneck High School on April 8th, 2006. We hope that you will all make time to attend. Your support is invaluable.

Last year we experienced a very successful launch of The Jelani Tree, a beautifully illustrated book for children and adults that helps relay the story of Jelaniís fruitful and endearing character.

Set in the heart of a bustling city, The Jelani Tree is a book about a magnificent tree that is in danger of dying before it shares its plentiful fruit with the world. Discovering the tree’s peril, a courageous and spirited boy sets out to rally his friends and neighbors to save the tree.

Saturday, April 2, 2005, at Our Children’s Foundation in Harlem and Sunday, April 10, 2005, at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck, an exciting mix of words, music, testimonials, and inspirational talks helped launch the book. Carol Manigault, mother of Jelani and president of the JELANI Institute hosted both events. A uthor Caroline Brewer was on hand to read the story, with a New York mbira player and drummer providing a dramatic and rhythmic flourish. Felician College Professor George Abaunza gave enlightening talks based on Jennifer Arroyo's research into police shootings of non-threatening people who are experiencing emotional distress. Several of Jelani’s friends and family members shared their memories of the remarkable young man.

Approximately 100 people attended each event, and approximately 300 books were sold and distributed during the celebrations.

We are forever indebted to Samuel Brown, Julie Brown, the staff of Our Childrenís Foundation, as well as Tim Blunk, and Perry and Gladys Rosenstein of the Puffin Foundation for their hard work in making the events so successful.

The Jelani Tree traveled south to be featured in two book-signings in the Washington, DC-metropolitan area on June 11 and June 28, and west to Carolineís hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana on June 18. During the week of June 11, Caroline read The Jelani Tree to nearly 1,000 children in a summer program, and her former elementary school purchased 30 books Ė one for each teacher.

Approximately 110 books were sold and distributed during the June events to a great number of people never had the chance to meet our dear Jelani. Jelaniís Aunt Eileen Walker was especially helpful at the book-signing event June 28 at LíEnfant Plaza in D.C., where she works. She got nearly a dozen co-workers to attend the signing and purchase books.

In Indiana, a local group of musicians called JATA performed for free for Carolineís reading at Mitchell Books, delighting the crowd of nearly 50 people. We deeply appreciate these guys for giving us the gift of their time and music.

The book will continue to inspire, and we will continue to share fruitage with you. One personís life has touched the lives of countless others already, and will continue to do so.

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