“We’re girls, women, human, not a burden.”
“We’re girls, women, human, not a burden.”
It had been a scorching hot day with thick, humid air helping to carry the smell of cotton for miles. Running through the plantation fields for the last time, eleven year old Ellen knew at sundown she would be separated from her mother possibly never seeing her again. The mistress had become increasingly irritated that the young mulatto was always mistaken for one of her children and was a reminder of the master’s indiscretions. She would be taken to Macon, Georgia, as a wedding gift for her half-sister.
It was in Macon that Ellen would meet her future husband, William Craft, also a slave. And it was during this period that the talented seamstress decided no child she might eventually bear as a mother would be separated from her as was her case when her mother was suddenly gone. Her bloodline would never live under the wretched system of American slavery and suffer that kind of agonizing pain.
Fortitude, a tenacious resolve, quick thinking, suspicion, terror, and a major victory – all would shadow the gallant escape from slavery of William and Ellen Craft. It would be recorded as a thrilling tale of espionage, deception, and intrigue and one of the boldest, most brazen escapes from the institution of slavery ever.
Knowing slaveholders have the privilege of taking their slaves to any part of the country they think proper, it occurred to me that as my wife was nearly white, I might get her to disguise herself as an invalid gentleman, and assume to be my master, while I could attend as his slave, and that in this manner, we might affect our escape, wrote William, once they both finally learned to read and write. They realized this plan could either succeed or fail which would mean freedom or death.
Instead of fleeing in the midnight hour with the North Star; mailing themselves in crates and hoping the bloodhounds wouldn’t pick up a human scent; or devising clever ways to stow away on ships and wagons, the Crafts traveled out in the open during the day mainly by train in first class accommodations while also making connections on ferry boats and steamers. They dined with steamboat captains and stayed in the best hotels as they got closer to their destination of Philadelphia.
Yet, despite the luxury settings, the four day journey was fraught with narrow escapes and heart-in-the-mouth moments that could have led to their discovery and capture. Beardless and unable to sign in at hotels because she had never learned to read or write, she cleverly covered her face with a poultice, placed her writing hand in a cast, and donned tinted eyeglasses.
With the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 threatening their impending freedom, the Crafts were moved around Boston and then ushered safely to Liverpool, England, thanks to the abolitionist work of the Committee of Safety and Vigilance. After giving birth to five children, four born in England, the Crafts returned to the United States in 1868, opening an industrial/agricultural school near Savannah, Georgia, for freedmen’s children.
Jetta Dya Jones (a.k.a.) is a retired educator (Nikki Skies was one of her former students),a former model, and now a freelance writer and motivational speaker. Her inspirational book, The Breakthrough (Life Chronicles Publishing), the first of multiple literary, film,and curriculum projects, is scheduled to be released by early fall 2017. The native Kansas Citian currently resides in Inglewood, CA where she is currently developing and working towards funding for Ethan’s Kids, dedicated to the empowerment and support of creative youth artists and in memory of a young man very important in her life.
Being Black is
more than the vernacular you use to speak,
more than stolen soul food recipes,
more than begging the Sun to bake you,
more than wrapping White legs around Black manhood
to make you feel full and complete,
however temporary the vibration may be
Being Black is
a generational journey, born of experiences of common ancestry and heritage all wrapped in various shades from caramel to cream and the bronze to charcoal color scheme.
Being Black is
NOT a train you can board whenever you can afford a ticket to travel in dark energy and dark matter.
Those who so easily invite others into our genealogy have little respect for what it means to have a racial and cultural identity
Being Black is
EXCEPT OUR PAIN
we tell white lies to mask our shame
To be Black is a Continuum and in this time and space, folk need to know their place.
I can make cars slow down and eyes glance out of side windows.
I can make a man’s mind wonder the contents of my thoughts.
I can make you want to kiss my hand and not even have a reason.
I am woman, the object of your desire.
I can make 12 tasks mold into one without breaking a sweat.
I can manage and supervise a group of people without them feeling inferior.I may not change the entire world but my world is organized, stylish and complete.
I am woman, the master of my success.
I can understand anyone through the content of my emotions.I can quickly tell a liar from the flicker of sarcasm in the eyes.
I can see right through a fake smile or a kiss with no feeling.
I am woman, my heart is more valued than gold.
I can be royalty to the man I’ve chosen to be my king.
I can be everything to those who are worth my time.
I am always aware of the infinite power of my femininity.
It is up to you to take notice and give the ultimate respect.
the idea the African saw through the cracked wood of
the Henrietta Marie
the seed of the new woman
the ecstasy in the fire
the gospel after poetry venues
praised on sidewalks and parking lots
you are now a prophet amongst preachers
burdened with the beauty of the entire rose
pick the thorns or keep them
just stay in tact / you came prickly and prissy
with a rampant river under your feet
your commitment will be constantly tested
through people using revolution to work our personal
they’ll say you don’t fit the role / don’t look natural / ain’t ready to fight
you’re not committed to the destruction of the system
and they’re right
because you are a Creator / never forget that
You are a Creator
and you destroy the idea of death in order to live.
She Chronicles celebrates the feminine narrative through showcasing Her unique vernacular in literary contributions. “Women writing about other women responsibly.”
People think this is not a big message, women writing responsibly about other women. If so, the majority of female stage, screen and television actors would not be placed in story lines primarily due to their relation with children and/or their husbands/boyfriends. We would have more stories that detail a developed protagonist and her achievements. There are TONS of stories that have a lead male who has a mission/goal that he goes after ambitiously and then at night returns home to his wife and children or his girlfriend. This is the massive norm. The feminine narrative has been bent into shapes over so many years that it is literally unrecognizable. Her voice sits so politely on the couch or hangs so nicely creased in the closet it appears comfortable and satisfied. It is not.
The boat whistled its’ way through the waters and soon the screams of the women faded. The air was now filled with the constant yells of families sitting on roofs screaming for help. They approached Memorial Medical Center and Chris decided to seek refuge there. As he got closer, he could see through the lobby window hundreds of people camped inside. Every seat was occupied and people were sprawled out on the floor with blankets. Police were patrolling the doors. Chris knocked but the policemen just stood and shook their heads in the negative. Chris trudged through the water to the other side of the hospital and policemen were standing heavy guard at those doors too. He knew besides the sore bones and loose teeth, he had no serious injury and they were not going to let him in.
Chris double tied his bag of food and treaded through the water on his tippy toes. He began to reminisce on the summers growing up in New Orleans. His father worked as a mechanic in a neighborhood shop and in the summer Chris would help out by washing the cars once he was done. Afterwards, instead of joining his cousins down at the local swimming pool, he hung out with the neighborhood knuckle heads and smoked weed. Or they convinced one of the older drunks to buy them liquor. He was all of nine years old. With the water slapping up against his chest and occasionally splashing in his face, he wished he had taken those swimming lessons instead.
A few blocks from the hospital, Chris found himself pacing in the water side by side with a dog. The dog was a dark brown cocker spaniel probably looking for a dry place to rest his feet. From atop, the dog seemed to be relaxed. But he knew underneath he was probably paddling his legs wild as the devil! Chris remembered how easy it was to tread the dog paddle when he was younger so he picked his feet up to give it a try. He quickly dipped in the thick, murky waters and emerged panicked. He struggled to get his stance stable but soon regained his pace and continued down the street with the other stranded people.
A little ways down, Chris spotted the small boat and whistled to get their attention. They acknowledged him by waving. Other people began to whistle and try and make their way to the boat too so Chris picked up his pace. The eyes of the dog swimming nearby were showing signs of exhaustion. There was no telling how long the dog had been in the water. The dog let out a bark, then went under the water. Within seconds, his head reappeared and he began to bark in desperation. Chris was mindful to stay as far away from the dog as possible to avoid being bitten. The small boat reeved it’s engine as they waited for him. The dog’s bark now became aggressive as he continued to swim towards Chris. The men on the boat splashed water towards the dog to slow him down and distract his concentration on swimming.
“Come on man! Dat dog look mad or summin’!,” one of the men said.
Chris turned his head to witness the dog go under again. He started to run on his tip toes because he knew he would get sprayed with the dirty water when the dog came back up. He reached the boat and threw his bag of food aboard. He could feel the water spray on the back of his neck as the dog shook its’ head. The men reached down and pulled Chris on the boat.
“They wasn’t lettin’ nobody in down at the hospital huh?,” Gunner asked.
“Naw,” Chris simply replied.
The boat pulled away and the dog continued to swim behind it. His eyes were bulging as he barked pleas of help. There was nothing in sight for the dog to take refuge on. The dog’s shiny, brown coat disappeared under the water a third time, not to emerge again.
a snippet from the short story book, Mississippi Window Cracks.
tired of waking up tired / after 8 hours of sleep
up all night fighting somebody / even though I live alone
in a white dress / she came to me and said my peace would
come with pain / my peace was letting go of everything that I
believed keeps me sane.
I was naked / but not stripped, like before / misunderstood &
confused with this spiraling in my spine / I gave it all away.
I snored that night / I was so tired.
The secret DNA behind bestsellers