Happy Birthday Ida B. Wells!

ida b wells

In 1884 Ida B. Wells refused to give up her seat.  And you thought it was Rosa Parks all these years!  She is another one of those “before her time” kind of people!

Ida B. Wells was best known for being a journalist and documenting various accounts of lynching.  Incredibly courageous during her time, she was also active with the women’s suffrage movement and women’s rights.  She was an internationally known lecturer as well.

Early in Wells’ life, she dropped out of college to care for her six siblings after her parents death.  She did this knowing she was being paid less than her white counterparts due to the color of her skin.  One might think this was just another incident that sparked the mind of this revolutionary!  I salute and give thanks for Ida B. Wells today!

those famous words

image

Those famous words said to a friend during Friday nights’ happy hour or a Sunday night meltdown. Come on, it’s not just me!

I am in a countdown mode on leaving my incredibly well paying management job of six years. Since taking on the parenting of my nephews and nieces, I had to acquire a sense of security for bills, therapy sessions, health insurance, after school activities, etc. And doing this as a single woman would’ve really been a challenge had I not fallen back on my “I know how to build a winning team” face. So, how do I feel?

Today I feel certain. Certain that this is what I must do. Certain that the universe will provide if I follow what fulfills my life. Fulfilling my life is performing, speaking and writing. That’s the end and exclamation point. Of course I have been thinking of this for months now so a financial plan is in place and now it is about how I manage my time so after my 9-5 I can come home and work on my art.

Some days I am filled with fear and anxiety but not today. Today I know for certain I will move forward with my life as an artist and active aunt of four. When will you follow your heart and make it Plan A?

Happy Birthday Margaret Walker!

“For My People” is one of those literary works that will be studied for years to come.  This piece sits next to “A Dream Deferred” and “Phenomenal Woman” on your book shelves.  The credit for this timeless work of art goes to Dr. Margaret Walker.

 

margaret walker

During the 1970′s, Dr. Walker was the first of a generation of women who began to seek that their works get published.  Her second novel, Jubilee, is another contributing piece to the notable collection of timeless art by African American writers.  Dr. Walker taught at Jackson State University for almost 30 years and founded the Institute for the Study of History, Life, and Culture of Black People, now the Margaret Walker Center.  I recognize and salute her today!

 

 

Happy Birthday Katherine Dunham!

katherine dunham

Katherine Dunham was a dancer, choreographer, social activist and educator. She had a successful dance career domestically and internationally during the 20th century. She is known as the “matriarch and queen mother of black dance.” Dunham also maintained her own dance company for 30 years, the only self supported African American dance troupe during the 1940′s and 1950′s.

A trail blazer! How will you be re-membered?

Freedom Summer 50 Years Later

I’m sure it related to them wanting to feel human. Or perhaps be recognized for breath. That stuff that holds shoulders high and chins parallel to horizons. Yearning for something opposite of sleeping with one eye open. The word next to God was “freedom”. If we re-member correctly, it still should be.

On the heels of so many other campaigns such as Little Rock’s desegregation of schools. After the world saw the body of Emmett Till. After the Montgomery bus boycott. After the sit-in’s in Greensboro and Nashville. After the Birmingham bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church and the infamous March on Washington. Stood Mississippi… gotdamn. The campaign known as Freedom Summer began the planning phases in February of 1964. It continued the original demonstration designed by the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee that organized a mock “Freedom Vote” to illustrate the will of Black Mississippians to vote who had a 5% voting rate for African Americans over the age of 18. (The lowest in the country.) Freedom Summer campaigned an attempt to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi and also organize Freedom Houses, Freedom Schools, and resource centers in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population.

freedom summer

When I speak of this to the younger generation, it seems so “taken for granted” or so, “matter of factly”. But I wonder what the stats would be if we took a poll of the percent of registered voters today? Regardless, this remembrance is vital.

From the book, Freedom Summer by Doug McAdam, many of Mississippi’s white residents deeply resented the outsiders and any attempt to change their society. Locals routinely harassed volunteers. Newspapers called them “unshaven and unwashed trash.” Their presence in local black communities sparked drive-by shootings, Molotov cocktails, and constant harassment. This included:

four civil rights workers were killed (one in a head-on collision)
at least three Mississippi blacks were murdered because of their support for the civil rights movement
four people were critically wounded
80 Freedom Summer workers were beaten
1,062 people were arrested (out-of-state volunteers and locals)
37 churches were bombed or burned
30 Black homes or businesses were bombed or burned

freedom summer murders

All of this because of the simple yearning to level out one’s chest. Or to be recognized for that stuff that holds shoulders high and chins parallel to horizons. Breathe.

Today began that journey down in Mississippi. Freedom Summer re-membered.