“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.
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!
some days I feel like a fusion. a blend of church revival, street corner and classical energy. I feel bordered and limited and have the ability to make prejudice transparent. I feel like I am everything “separately and simultaneously”. nina simone.
a unique voice with a brazen beautiful bold look. she is known as the high priestess of soul due to her stage presence and use of silence as a musical instrument. when she used the silence she called it, “mass hypnosis.” leaving the audience mesmerized!
simone was born in the south and was very active in the civil rights movement. she sang and spoke at several civil rights meetings and marches but unlike Dr. King, Simone advocated violent revolution tactics when needed. simone was an artist who was granted creative control over her music in simple exchange for her voice. the music/lyrics she recorded has transcended into past and current soul music and even the hip hop generation.
this classically trained pianist lived her later years abroad after learning there was a warrant out for her arrest for unpaid taxes. she continued her music career in Africa, Barbados and ultimately in France where she succumbed to breast cancer in 2003.
another example of timeless art. nina simone.
some days I feel like elaine brown. I feel like I have the courage to love what feels right. I feel like I can stand in front of whomever/whatever and move past the criticism of my past with a smile. like elaine brown, some days I feel like I can change the world and by doing that sometimes you have to start over.
elaine brown is particularly known for her involvement in the black panther party in Oakland, Ca. while many haven’t had interest enough to read what her contributions and positions were in the party, they seem satisfied with knowing and saying, “she’s an ex-panther.” I had the privilege of meeting her twice and opening for her during a lecture in los angeles a few years ago. she was very emphatic with her intent to tell her side of the story. to make sure we left her with more to say.
she wanted us to know she believed in the black panther party with her entire being. she helped the panthers set up its first Free Breakfast for Children program in Los Angeles in addition to the panthers Free Busing to Prisons Program and the Free Legal Aid Program. she had a progressive intent for her people and herself as a woman/spiritual being. in her book, A Taste of Power, she made mention that she eventually left the panther party because she could no longer tolerate the patriarchy and sexism.
and I remember her speaking of love. I remember her sharing personal photos of her and Huey P. Newton and talking about how much she was in love with him. as I was holding one of the photos, she pointed to him and said, “he was fine wasn’t he?” her entire face smiled.
some days I feel like elaine brown in wanting to be whole. wanting to be accepted as an intelligent and critical thinker as well as a lover. and for all of who I am to be safe enough to share as part of the human experience.
the oldest child. the one who clearly remembers. I am the one who appears to have “kept it together”. the one sought for direction and clarity.
Attallah Shabazz is the daughter that can silence a crowd with her commanding beauty and strikingly visible resemblance to her father, Malcolm X. Attallah became the artist to this family that was thrown in the political arena. She is a lecturer, playwright, director, producer and performer. She mirrors her art to her father’s message to continue to elutriate ill perceptions. She has found her own voice to preach her own gospel of human rights and self-esteem.
In an interview, Attallah speaks of having coloring books and reading books that depicted persons from black history. She continued, “So when I went to school and parts of me were omitted from history books, I knew the hole wasn’t in me, it was in the books.” Some days I feel like Attallah Shabazz because even though I learned the hole wasn’t me later in life… when I did find out, my art began a path that had a natural commitment to preserving my community and its’ vernacular.
some days I feel like, bell hooks. I feel radical enough to express my mental health even when it exposes my family. It is done with respect and an ambition to grow. I can’t remember the first book I read by bell hooks but I remember feeling like I was having an incredibly intimate and engaging conversation. like the writing legacy I want to leave behind, bell hooks has mastered her craft. she stands alone with the interconnectivity she entails with gender, race and capitalism. she is pro a progressive and critically thinking culture. she is pro living life in a just and freedom filled way.
some days I feel like, bell hooks.