Tag Archives: black history

Some Time for Angela Davis

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Angela Davis is a political activist, academic and author. She emerged as an activist in the 1960’s in northern California with the Black Panther Party. The thing that I personally admire about Angela Davis is her willingness to grow and learn. Many of her contradictions have come from her speaking on new learnings where there hasn’t been a language for Black women. Therefore I don’t view these as contradictions, she was creating a language along the way. She was shifting point of views and stand points. And she continues to do so.

I have heard her speak several times. Once she mentioned that growing up in Birgmingham, Alabama she was friends with two of the girls now infamously known as “The 4 Little Girls”. I can only imagine that her critically thinking mind began back then.

Happy Birthday Angela Davis! Thank you!

 

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Re-membering May Miller

May Miller was an African American poet, playwright and educator. Miller became known as the most widely published woman playwright of the Harlem Renaissance, with seven published volumes of poetry during her career as a writer.

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I celebrate her because she was the “most published woman playwright of the Harlem Renaissance” and the world does not know her name… MAY MILLER, we thank you and remember you!

 

 

An Act of Interruption

All along I have been doing work that interrupted the silencing of black women in his-story. This his-story includes the actual absence of her presence or her presence represented in vilified images or characteristics. Effortlessly, even through the pen strokes of black people, black women characterizations are resembling or in actuality that of the socially oppressive jezebel, tragic mulatto or big mama. Until going in to studies for Africana Women’s Studies, I didn’t have the language of what I was doing nor did I have the connections of other women that have doing this work for years.

My last novel, The Town Dance, I was inserting the silent voice of people who were victims to same gender sexual assault. The novel was my support for a dear friend who had been sexually assaulted by her girlfriend and dismissed the encounter with an uncomfortable laugh. I’ll never forget her looking at me, forcing a smile then saying, “she’s strong”. This was over 15 years ago. When I finally decided to write the novel, my internet search on the topic led me to pornographic sites or inconclusive court hearings. The writing process was therapy for me. Even though I have a community of gay friends, both men and women, I was terrified to be plagued with being considered “gay” if I wrote the book. Actual terror would travel my body as I imagined people staring at me questioning if I was a gay women. I had to confront my homophobia and fears, have confronting, vulnerable conversations with friends and then heal. Afterwards, I wrote the book.

A project that has been in my head for years comes from visits to Montgomery, Alabama and one of their historic sites from the civil rights movement. This relatively flat land, small city was once a huge mobilizing force for progressive efforts of black people. The communities that once flourished are now abandoned and its buildings dilapidated. But the stories live on.

The stories of the brave men that faced, often times, violent resistance in their fight against Jim Crow. As always, I wondered what the women were doing. The beautiful black and white photos that display their wrinkle-free dresses and unstained white or pastel colored gloves gave them a physical presence. But the texts were absent of their words, their actions. So I began research and found women that I felt needed to be given voice. After years of imagining their world, visiting Montgomery and sitting in my car in the neighborhood I wanted to focus on, the book is slated be released October of 2019. My first take at historical fiction. I love this book and so excited to share it with the world in the upcoming months.

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Celebrating Zora!

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It’s not too late to join the annual festivities in the name of the literary icon, Zora Neale Hurston:

https://zorafestival.org/

What Are The ZORA!™ Festival’s Goals ?
  • To celebrate the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston
  • To celebrate the historic significance of Eatonville
  • To celebrate the cultural contributions which people of African ancestry have made to the United States and to world culture

Remembering Medgar Evers Today – “A Prose for Medgar and Myrlie” by Nikki Skies

It landed on the kitchen table next to the watermelon.  Like a Sunday newspaper on Thursday.  Set aside for recycling.  Or an abandoned spoon after dessert. It sat there foreign but familiar.  Like an African American in America.

The carousel sang loudly. Drowned out the relief of parental duties.  Playful screams resonated the atmosphere.  Cotton candy decorated white faces pink and blue. Mustard stains on white t-shirts. Scraped knees caused by unattended shoelaces. The day was glee and the night carefree, as flying gravel spun under running feet.

Her bladder was full of miles like her mother’s.  She watered the ground with chocolate auburn.  The spices enticed the clouds to cry and capture the streets.  She met him where the sun sat in the fire pit.  He kissed her hand to summons a feather so she wouldn’t doubt his words.  His eyes were complete like the turn of an owl’s head.  The preacher announced their commitment where roads met corners with mirrors.  He hung their picture in a birdcage to catch time.  He told them not to be afraid.

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The first season spread the hours like a bridge. He supplied water to dry, fallen branches daily.  Believers of the unseen.  She carried unicorns in her pockets.  They wore audacious yellows and greens in a black and white world.  Demanded freedom like 8 a.m. school bells.  Unbalanced as thick as unjust.  At night she placed sweet onions on his eyelids. He remained rooted.  His tongue poignant from the aroma.

Dog’s were death’s best friend.  Hydrants absent from fires.  Hoses present at protests.  Tilted buses full of spiritual songs.  Northern boys with fresh fists. Southern boys with patched will.  Northern girls with golden intuition. Southern girls with ancient maps.  Laughter extinct.  Spit like rain. Freedom rides. Spirits flew. Red summer. Blue years. Freedom wide. Hatred tall. Black bodies hung/ burned/ mutilated. Daylight tardy.

Soprano saxophone accompanied her screams.  Vibrato in her hands.  His head in her lap.  His eyes meeting her’s was the prize. “Sit me up, turn me loose.” Abandoned from forever. She sat him up. Erect as pillars.  Baroque rocked. Down. She sipped tea in China.

Scores for his name. His verses rhymed her forward.  Her passion sweet as fruit. Seasoned. Made days wet cement. For imprints. Slops. Hills. Concrete with purpose. His remembrances sleep at our feet.

 

a prose from the book,

Mississippi Window Crack

Autographed copies available here

Amazon purchase

50 Years Ago Today

On this day 50 years ago, one of the greatest leaders this world has every known, delivered his last speech.  Remembering the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today.

Here is a snippet of his last speech, “I Have Been To The Mountaintop”:

She Chronicles presents, “Gladys Hedgpeth” by Jetta Dya Jones

She was a close friend of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated contraltos, Marian Anderson, and renowned educator, Mary McCloud Bethune; an admirer of Booker T. Washington; and once wrote about going to hear Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie and how disappointed she was when her children didn’t know where Ethiopia was on a world map.  Sadly, not much has changed 75 years later.  Civil rights activist and gifted seamstress, Gladys Hedgpeth’s story is one of courage, faith, and simply being aware things just weren’t fair when it came to equality in the quality of life . . . academic opportunities; career visions realized; and cultural exposure.  Against all odds, the self-educated, ‘very pretty’, brave and defiant mother of 9 helped bring a school board to its knees.

In 1943, Trenton, New Jersey wasn’t much different for ‘people of color’ than small towns in the South.  Daily racial oppression was just not as blatant, but most ‘Negroes’ were still confined to segregated facilities; venues; and prospects.  Although having to endure the sole responsibility of being a divorced single mother, a small portion of Gladys Hedgpeth’s days were still spent lugging a big, black pocketbook loaded down with NAACP membership envelopes.  It wasn’t easy convincing folks to join the so needed historic organization (founded in 1909) when that same dollar could buy two loaves of bread.  The crusader knew she had no choice but to try.

When Junior High School No. 2 was built, Gladys and other parents on the block thought their children wouldn’t have to travel to far away Lincoln.  That was definitely not the case.  Ten years before the decision of Brown vs. the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education (the Supreme Court’s decision on public school desegregation), the protestor and her neighbor, Berline Williams filed a lawsuit against the Trenton Board of Education.  They were represented by an NAACP attorney, Robert Queen.

Soon more than 200 black school children had transferred from Lincoln to other city junior high schools.  In 1946, Lincoln began enrolling white children making its principal Patton J. Hill, one of the first black men in the U.S. to head an integrated secondary school.  The case was cited by Thurgood Marshall in his arguments in the 1954 Supreme Court case.

(February, 1944) New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Newton Porter announced the Court’s decision . . . “It’s unlawful for Boards of Education to exclude children from any public school on the ground that they are of the Negro race, and a school board has no legal right to refuse Negro children admission in the school nearest their residence and compel them to attend another school where colored children are segregated from other children.

Celebration and honor!  In 1993, Junior High School No. 2 was renamed the Hedgpeth/Williams Middle School.

Resource:  Spring, 2005 – American Legacy Magazine

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Kansas City native, Jetta Dya Jones is a retired educator, motivational speaker, and freelance writer.  Her debut inspirational book, Ba’al Perazim:  The Breakthrough, will be released early summer (Life Chronicles Publishing)

 

Allegiance, a poem for “Rebel”

Allegiance.

like rusted barbwire
nothing gets past me
over me

Never Bow
nothing can get through to me
but your mixtures of smiles and advice
and now, that can only touch me through rain / Mama I miss you

my doubt outruns ruined panty hose
going back and forth like a father to work / a mother to prayer

Write a song for yourself
one that can march
when your walk is crooked
and your back is misguided

A song of allegiance
that can speak
when your twisted tongue is to capacity with
blues and sours and thorns

A song that pledges allegiance
to bodies that abandon couches and beds
but comfort the concrete slabs of
Oakland / Ferguson / Baltimore / New York

Blow the horn
Live to tell

Rebel Continue reading Allegiance, a poem for “Rebel”