Video snapshot from the Guardians Institute 2010 "Play It Forward!" Ceremony

Thomas Geriken performs "Something You Got" with Young Guardians Spy Boy Dondrell Cage, Jr. and Creole Wild West Gang Flag Irving "Honey" Banister

22 November 2010
The Harrison Family Home
and future site of The Guardians Institute building
Independence and North Johnson Streets, Upper 9th Ward, New Orleans

Young Guardians of the Flame gathered at The Guardians Institute site on Tuesday morning of Thanksgiving school vacation for a late morning ritual and cultural exchange at which Big Chief Kevin Cooley, Jr. accepted from Thomas Geriken (Ofnabrueck, Germany) and Ehme De Riesa (Wolffburz, Germany) a check for $2000 to support his personal "Play It Forward!" philanthropy within the Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr. Book Program.

Thomas brought out his keyboard and played for the Guardians, and the Young Guardians shared their music with him and Ehme.

Known in Germany as the "Prince of New Orleans Piano," Thomas Geriken began telling European audiences about the Guardians Institute following an encounter with saxophonist and Congo Nation Big Chief Donald Harrison, Jr. He and Ehme De Riesa soon began collecting donations at gigs on the Book Program's behalf.

In 2011, The Guardians Institute will celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr. Book Program. Since 2006, The Guardians Institute has distributed over 25,000 books valued at over $250,000 to New Orleans children via in-school programs and events across the community. Children meet and learn the importance of literacy and numeracy with Mardi Gras Indians, jazz musicians, indigenous cultural tradition bearers, businessmen, businesswoman, and other community leaders. Guardians Institute co-founder, Herreast J. Harrison, widow of Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr., developed the Book Program to assist children rebuilding and establishing personal libraries after the 2005 Federal levee breaks during Hurricane Katrina that destroyed 80% of New Orleans.

The Book Program honors the memory of Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr. who read over forty books a year and often presented books to children. One of his favorite inscriptions was, “Knowledge, once acquired is something no one can take away from you. Read and you shall know for yourself.”

To support The Guardians Institute building fund and the Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr. Book Program, contact

Cherice Harrison-Nelson via

The Guardians Institute
P.O. Box 3762
New Orleans, LA 70177

See also: "Guardians of the Flame: Building Culture Through Community"

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