Tag Archives: black writers

Happy Birthday to playwright, Judi Ann Mason!

I dared to pursue my passion of studying theatre at Grambling State University. One of the first plays produced upon me entering was, “Livin’ Fat” by Judi Ann Mason. The theatre director so often bragged on how this play was written by his “class mate” and how she had written it while still attending Grambling. I didn’t think much of the playwright after the production until years later and I was living in Los Angeles.

One day I was watching the tv show, “Different World” and the writer credit for that episode read, Judi Ann Mason. It was then I found out she was more than a playwright born, raised and educated in the south. She was an award winning writer and a trailblazer for black writers in Hollywood.

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The play, “Livin Fat” was produced off Broadway in 1976 by the Negro Ensemble Company, and won a comedy award sponsored by the Kennedy Center and television producer Norman Lear. Lear then hired her as a writer for the series “Good Times” and she went on to write for “Sanford”, “A Different World”, “Beverly Hills 90210” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

Judi Ann Mason, was one of the first female African-American sitcom writers in Hollywood and one of the youngest television writers of any race or either sex. As I am researching for my studies, re-discovering black women playwrights is imperative on my path. So today, we honor Judi Ann Mason! We remember you and thank you!

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She Chronicles presents, “A Woman of Class, Race, and Color” by DragonPoetikFly

She wrote about it.
I decided to read it.
I talked about it, and wanted to be it too.
Being about it is our business.
The issue of our revolution states:
“Women of all superiority, not inferiorities embrace the authority. For all your worth and
wealth to be like common; to be a race class of glorified gender. Free yet splendid, and
not yet worldly desired. Thinker and strong willed back breaking baby baring queens.
Raise your fist like this!
Put them in the air like this!
Be proud like this!
Civilized nature isn’t bliss, we have no colors of suffrage.”
Am I not a woman?
Unleash the femininity of your womanhood.
Put the power on them!
You are naturally nurturing our future into progression,
not with standing oppression.
This is my confession, and all I want to shout out is
“Power to The People!”
Stick my pick in my afro with the fist erect,
and know better days and ways are here.
Yes I patiently await its coming.
We are just now recognizing we are free.
But we still think, feel, and behave like slaved women.
We are scholars, felons, activist, writers, philosophers, and many uncrowned
accomplishments in one.
A hero this woman is,
and an personification of the struggle of women.
She embraces her community and its families.
We are fighting against aggressive relations.
Lady love embrace our nation.
I love you Angela Y. Davis a woman of race, class, and color

Inspired By: Angela Y. Davis 1981 Novel “Women, Race and Class”
DragonPoetikFly Publishing Ink.© ™2018

 

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Click here for more works by DragonPoetikFly

 

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)

 

She Chronicles presents, “Notions” by Sandra Rivers-Gill

When she was a girl in those days
Her Mama bought a piece of mosaic fabric
Weaved salvaged edges into historical truth
I heard her say

You could buy a piece of mosaic fabric
For ten cent a yard
She resounded with clarity
Through her veil of trimmed notions

For ten cent a yard
Inspiration was sewn into our lineage
Preserving amid the crow of notions
Her Mama made sack dresses from lack

Stitched threads that spurred our lineage
To crease hems in place of mediocrity
Sack clothing was made with praising hands
Because Southern crops impaled the boll of grasps

She turned to hymns instead of idle hands
And waved them like her Mama’s kinfolk
Who toiled fields that impaled their grasps
But their unbreakable spirit was their balm

Her Mama was as immovable as her kinfolk
She was vigilant and strong and learned
How to wear unbreakable spirit like a balm
That worked narratives into folded seams

She trained her daughters to be watchful; to study
How to buy yards of the mosaic fabric
And line their narratives into the upright seams
We weave our salvaged edges with tangible truth

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A native of Toledo Ohio, Sandra Rivers-Gill is an award-winning poet,
writer, performer and playwright. Her literary work has appeared, or is forthcoming in Common Threads, Toledo Streets Newspaper, the Toledo
Museum of Art (Online), Flights Literary Magazine and The Kerf. Sandra
served as the 2016 Literary chairperson for the Prizm Creative Community
Art-Affair Exhibition, and has been a featured poet in Toledo and
Dayton, Ohio and continues to read and perform  her poetry. She
currently facilitates poetry workshops at Naomi Inc., a non-profit
treatment facility for women in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse and
is the editor of Dopeless Hope Fiends, a poetry chapbook featuring the
work of the women she serves. Sandra studied communication and received
a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo.

A Poem

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It’s a poem if the words can live without you.

If the allegory can make blinding light shine from tombs
awaken memories
breathe them back to – reality.

It’s a poem if,
there are possibilities for similies linking people
universally
from fallen walls to picket signs
drawing scents of lemons
shake hands of farm girls to vegetarians
likening poetry to biblical days
with your comrades
logging different chapters
forcing the community for just one night
to look
directly into the sun
That’s a poem.

from the poetry book, Pocket Honey, Wind & Hips

BIBLIOGRAPHY for Cal State LA! THANK YOU

Thank you to the Cross Cultural Center at Cal State Los Angeles for allowing me to share my artistic journey with writing my novel, The Town Dance.   I was pleased to meet with the students and encourage all the writers in the room.

As I discussed while I was there, as a writer, it is imperative to maintain an active bibliography.  Reading is the BEST writing prompt to keep you active.  Your bibliography should keep you abreast of the writers in your genre and in tune with what your audience is interested in.  Keep in mind, it does not have to be novels you are reading.  It can be a book of poetry, your favorite magazine or reading through your favorite blog.

In regards to our conversation today, I want to share more of the books and authors that were vital resources and tools as I wrote The Town Dance and some literary works I re-visit to study for my writing journey:

Absolutely anything by SONIA SANCHEZ, BELL HOOKS

“Homeade Love” by J. California Cooper

“In Search of Our Mother’s Garden by Alice Walker

“Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Ann Collins

“Salt” by Nayyirah Waheed

“But Some of Us Are Brave: All The Women are White, All the Blacks are Men; Black Women’s Studies by Aksasha Gloria Hall

In addition, the organizations I referenced were RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) and SAFER (Students Active For Ending Rape).

If you weren’t able to pick up a copy of The Town Dance you can do so here 🙂  Thank you again and keep reading and writing!

Speak on Love,

Nikki Skies

Bookshelf Help

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I’m a writer. Poet. Playwright. Novelist. Storyteller.

You should really add those titles to your library 😉 Click on the “Book” tab for more information.

Love,
Nikki 

When We Arrived asks Jolivette “The Poet Warrior” about Iconic Poet Sonia Sanchez

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Share your perspective on Sonia’s contribution to the feminine narrative.

In her poem titled Song #2 she writes:

“Don’t let them kill you with their stare
Don’t let them closet you with no air
Don’t let them feed you sex piecemeal
Don’t let them offer you any old deal.”

That’s therapy. That’s a major contribution.

What do you think has been Sonia’s recipe for a writing career spanning over 40 years?

Mother Sonia stays true to her people. She is honest about us and with us. She is most importantly honest with herself. She put her life into her work so we would see what could happen in our own lives.

She is a deep, critical thinker and she thinks deeply about humanity. Her voice carries the memory of Father Malcolm and so many other ancestors.

She speaks words and sounds to drown out the sounds of oppression.

With your interaction with Sanchez, what are two things we wouldn’t know about her? (fun facts if you may) Continue reading When We Arrived asks Jolivette “The Poet Warrior” about Iconic Poet Sonia Sanchez

Goodread Winners for The Town Dance!

CONGRATS TO the winners for the Goodreads giveaway for The Town Dance:

Christine in Ventnor City, New Jersey
and
Cecilia in Austin, Texas

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Do you have your copy yet?

Order your Autographed Copy from me here!

Order Kindle Edition here!

Order from Amazon here!