This book. Is. Absolutely. Brilliant.
“The Salt Eaters” is one of those books that took me years to read. For some reason, I always seemed to begin to read it and after the first few pages I had to put it down. Part because I couldn’t grasp the concept of what was going on and because I had too much going on in my life. See, this book demands you be abandoned when you read it. After finally reading the book, I realized it was difficult to read because it was personal. It felt like a conversation I would have with my girlfriends. It was “an older book” that was still relevant. It gave me the feel of a Zora Neale Hurston book or Toni Morrison. It is time bending and revolutionary.
I was introduced to Bambara around the time I began to consume myself with literature from black women. The summer going in to my sophomore year of undergraduate school when I sat on the library floor and found Sanchez, Shange, Giovanni, Walker, Brooks, Jordan, Clifton to name a few. I was a theatre student, who also loved poetry, scouring for material to perform and interpret for auditions and competitions. Bambara was one of the names that kept coming up so I kept her on my list of authors that “changed the game”.
Those who know me know that I am a thrift store book shopper. I never buy used books for over $3.00 and one day (years ago) I came across this book:
Today would have been the 77th birthday of poet, playwright, writer, filmmaker, director, civil rights activist, and educator, Kathleen Collins. I am taking time to insert her into my repertoire because she was the first black woman to direct a feature-length drama. Collins paved the road for Julie Dash. Commonly, Julie Dash is given credit for being the first black woman to direct a feature length film.
Influenced by the works of playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, Collins’ work centered around African Americans as human subjects and not as mere race subjects. This being a clear indication to her black feminism work in film and activism against vilified images and stereotypes.
As I journey on this path of shifting, reflecting and altering my personal perceptions of my artistic work in literature, I am “inserting” the names of black women who may exist prominently in the shadows. May their names and work re-join the rain dancers and roux makers of black women creators.
Happy Birthday Kathleen Collins!
As many of you know, I am a writer. I am so excited to share my latest work of fiction this fall, a work of historical fiction. During my research while writing the book, I came across one of the inspirations for my plot focus, and her name is Lugenia Burns Hope.
Hope founded the Atlanta Neighborhood Union and was a social activist, reformer, and community organizer during the early 20th century. The Neighborhood Union worked to improve black communities through traditional social work, improved education opportunities, and community health campaigns. Hope was also one of the founding members of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club. The organization had the motto, “Lifting as we climb”, to demonstrate to “an ignorant and suspicious world that our aims and interests are identical with those of all good aspiring women.”
Look her up! She was a very important black women who stood for community reformation and liberation as well as placing voice to black women’s societal concerns. Upon re-entering grad school, I have come to realize that my work (including works of fiction) have been to place a black feminine presence in historic moments. Hope inspired and educated women that went on to found the Women’s Political Council (WPC) in Montgomery, Alabama that organized the infamous bus boycott.
His-story would like for us to think Black women’s contribution to civil rights were sporadic moments of genius and courage. This is far from the facts! We just don’t know their names! The names of these communities of women that organized and implemented movement for progress and change. This is Lugenia Burns Hope, and we thank her! Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday Gloria Naylor, we remember and honor you!
Happy birthday Zora!
Re-membering an amazing writer, an iconic contributor to American literature,
Zora Neale Hurston
Hurston’s works touched on the African-American experience and her struggles as an African-American woman. Her novels went relatively unrecognized by the literary world for decades, but interest revived after author Alice Walker. Her most infamous work is, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”.