Tag Archives: womens history month

Re-membering Lugenia Burns Hope

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.

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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!

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Alice Walker… the Scholar

I have seen Alice Walker speak twice here in Atlanta. Both times, the crowd was mostly women, predominately white women. My last observation of the energy from the admiration of her literary works came during the Q and A. I remember sitting there trying to construct a precise question on how she connects her creative process with her person as a black woman. What I realized specifically is that the majority of the questions from the black women were trying to get the same information as I was and that the white women were asking her about spirituality. I remember thinking how odd that seemed to me that both black and white women seemed uninterested in the documentary that was just viewed. We wanted more and yet, Alice Walker is for the most part a fiction writer.

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Fast forward to me now back in grad school and how often she is referenced in Africana Women’s Studies, Gender Studies and Women’s Studies. It all makes sense. My question on how she connects her creativity  and her womanhood is in all of her work. I know realize how intuitively and effortlessly this is done in her work. I’m not certain of this, but I don’t think as she sat and wrote prose, short stories or poems that she was thinking on how she could contribute to feminist critical theory or black feminist theory. Nor could she have known how her personal expansion of feminism into “womanism” would take on entire subjects. Or perhaps she did… after all she is also an essayists and speaker.

Continue reading Alice Walker… the Scholar

Loving moments from the book, “Letter To My Daughter”

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“In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons. The epitome of sophistication is utter simplicity.” Maya Angelou

“My soul should always look back and wonder at the mountains I had climbed and the rivers I had forged and the challenges which still await down the road. I am strengthened by that knowledge.” Maya Angelou

When she was once being “timidly attacked” by a Hollywood producer who was interested in developing one of her short stories into a television show: “I promise you, you do not want me as your adversary because, once I feel myself under threat, I fight to win, and in that case I will forget that I am thirty years older than you, with a reputation for being passionate.” Maya Angelou

she continued in this chapter:

“I am never proud to participate in violence, yet, I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves, that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed.” Maya Angelou

“Racism still rages behind many smiling faces, and women are still spoken of in some circles, as conveniently pretty vessels. Macon, Georgia is down south, New York City is up south. Blithering ignorance can be found wherever you choose to live.” Maya Angelou

“Southern themes will range from generous and luscious love to cruel and bitter hate, but no one can ever claim that the South is petty or indifferent. [In the south] black people walk with an air which implies “when I walk in, they may like me or dislike me, but everybody knows I’m here.” Maya Angelou

My Reading on Saturday…

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I am reading this jewel of a book this morning for one of my classes. (ok… it’s Saturday so I am doing some work around the house so I have the audio on as well)

There are so many jewels that I am coming across in this text that I want to share some. Enjoy 🙂

“I learned to love my son without wanting to possess him and I learned how to teach him to teach himself.” – Maya Angelou

“I am convinced that people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.” – Maya Angelou

“Some entertainers have tried to make art of their coarseness. When they heap mud upon themselves and allow their tongues to wag with vulgarity, they expose their belief they are not worth loving.” Maya Angelou

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights. I maintain an attitude or gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.” Maya Angelou

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: “Nana, Mother, Love” by Susan “Spit-Fire” Lively

When I think of you, my Nana, I think of…
nature’s smiling spring blooms,
good food cooking in a warm room,
life over-flowing from floor to rafters,
the things that I’ll recall forever after.
Because when I think of you, my Nana,
I think of family, joy, and laughter.
You see, I was the precious clay in your hands,
and you gave me the best gift when you said
that I had your heart.
When you died, I felt my world come apart.
A woman unlike any other,
for there could never be another,
like the lady who taught me
how to live, how to love – Nana, Mother, Love
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Susan “Spit-Fire” Lively is a poet, spoken word artist, producer, photographer, educator, and activist from Belleville, IL. Co-organizer of “100,000 Poets & Musicians for Change – St. Louis” since its inception in 2011; Susan also produces the series’ “First Bloom” and “Women For Peace”, and co-produces the “Dia de los Muertos Fiesta”.  In 2016 she became an Officer of Urb Arts’ Executive Board. In January of 2017 Susan produced the St. Louis leg of the international event “Poets & Musicians Against Trump” (with co-producer John Blair).

Lively’s been featured on “Literature For The Halibut”, “The Arts with Nancy Kranzberg”, the “Healthy Living Program” and PBS’ “Living St. Louis”. She has taught spoken word and creative writing at Confluence Academy, Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, and for the Nine Network and St. Louis Fringe. Susan’s work has been published in “Static Movement”, “Postcard Shorts”, “Head To Hand”, “The East St. Louis Monitor”, “The PEN”, “Chance Operations”, “Drumvoices Revue 20th Anniversary Edition”, “SIUE News”, “Big Bridge“, “No Vacancyand the social justice anthology “Crossing the Divide“.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/SPITFIRE365
Instagram.com/Susan_SpitFire_Lively

She Chronicles presents, “I Won’t Lie For Her” by Gianni North

I read an article the other day about a high school girl who refused to stand for the “Pledge of Allegiance.” I saw myself in her. I did the same thing when I was in eighth grade. At the time, Los Angeles felt post-apocalyptic. We were only a few years removed from the Latasha Harlins case and the LA Riots. My Black and Brown friends were being assaulted and handcuffed for no reason, murdered with impunity and many fell prey to mandatory minimums. I watched as children of immigrants jumped from the second-story windows of my junior high school to protest threats of deportation from a country that was stolen from their ancestors. I walked past homeless people begging to be seen as humans. Gay friends could not walk hand-in-hand. So I could not understand how I could be asked to pledge allegiance when I knew “with liberty and justice for all” was bullshit. It still is.

The young protester was expelled from school. She filed a lawsuit, determined to hold the Constitution to its promise. I hope she wins; but I’m a cynic. Even if she wins in court, she’s fighting to be readmitted to complete an inadequate education. S.T.E.M. classes are undervalued. Books are being removed from English and history classes for being too offensive.  All that’s left are watered down texts perpetrated as knowledge. They won’t tell our kids the truth. If they did, the system could not train them to be new slaves.

I want to write this young woman a note of encouragement. I want to tell her not standing means something; but I can’t. Just as my mother couldn’t tell me.

I love my country. She taught me “God Bless America” in elementary.  I sang with sincerity and my hand over my heart, but that was before I learned the history America wants to forget. She doesn’t want to talk about the European men who raped, murdered, robbed, and left her in bloody pieces. She tries to distract me with patriotism, but she can’t hide the truth. This is not the “give me your tired, your poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free” America. I have hope for that America. I’m willing to fight for that America. The truth is that version of our country is still just an idea written on old paper. It is the truth America fears the young protester already knows.

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For bio and more works, visit: Indiefemme (Independent Women Making Independent Films)

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.