Tag Archives: civil rights movement

Road Paver – Kathleen Collins

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.

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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!

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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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On This Day You Made it To the Mountaintop, Remembering Dr. King

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

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Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

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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)

 

alpha to omega, Happy Birthday Dr King

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Speak up
Write up 
Sing up
Dance up
There are no safe places for artists to hide when inequality and injustice exist. Let’s continue to create and present the world with “the possibilities” of love and freedom.

When We Arrived presents: “Medgar’s Last Words” by Jolivette “The Poet Warrior” (video poetry post)

 

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Jolivette Anderson-Douoning is an Interdisciplinary scholar whose research is grounded in the Humanities and Applied Professions disciplines. 
Also known as Jolivette Anderson ‘the poet warrior’, she is a Race and Culture Educator who uses “Third Space Theory” to develop teaching and learning experiences that facilitate greater understandings of Black cultural existence and experience in the United States.
She is a Phd student and research assistant in American Studies / Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University. Her current research examines the purpose and relevancy of Black Cultural Centers between 1965 to 1995 and interrogates the future of BCC in a post – Obama United States of America.
She has four recordings of poetry and prose: Love and Revolution UndergroundAt the End of a Rope in MississippiJolivette Live: A Bluesy Funk Life Cycle, and She Energy.
For bookings and additional information thepoetwarrior@icloud.com or DrJolly2015@gmail.com