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Just Do Right. Thank You Maya Angelou!

Maya Angelou - Just Do RightDr. Maya Angelou ~ 1928-2014

This week the world grieved the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou.

There were so many beautiful posts (checkout Michael Twitty), quotes and thoughts shared about Maya, I’d really not planned to post anything. I thought watching and reading the praise as it flowed, knowing what Maya Angelou’s transparency and pen meant to me, was enough.

I took in Maya’s charge to “just do right”, and shared it with my kids. Like everyone, I thought about how her life has gifted me and words anchored in my heart long ago.

Yet I still planned to keep quiet… like the freedom from shame Maya relieved me of so many years ago, was our secret.

But after reading “What Maya Angelou’s Past Can Teach the Feminists of the Future“, I felt I had to affirm writer Lauren Davidson’s assertion, that Maya Angelou’s darkest life moments were as inspiring and enlightening as her brightest and most celebrated accolades.

I was 18 years old when I first learned of and read Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I had a BEAUTIFUL toddler, my firstborn Jerold (Jay) and was heading to nursing school, having just graduated with Honors.

In spite of the merit I earned by being a “good, young Mother” and […]

A Mother’s Day Gift…

Birthday Memories - Luckie, Jai & MomShe called me her “Rock of Gibraltar”. She loved my lack of tact, chuckled at my acid humor and applauded EVERY hurdle this teenage Mother conquered to create a life she was proud of. Gerrie was my Champion!:)

BRILLIANT in every sense of the word. Mom was relentless, nurturing; an Innovator before we knew what that word even meant. Gerrie commanded attention and though only 5’2 she sparkled in ANY crowd. Boy was she something special!:)

Born 7/6 and 7/7 we were “two peas in a pod”. On my first Mother’s Day without her, I truly know how invaluable Mom was to me, her baby girl.

I believe “Sometimes Grandma” is Mom’s gift to me and the kids. I think she knew in our effort to heal others, we too would find healing and purpose.

Mom was the QUEEN of strategy and taking care of other people. Our Harmony St. Kids have her wrapped all around them!:)

So my gift to you Mama this Mother’s Day is to be…

  • Relentless in my work to see an end to Alzheimer’s Disease. No standing on the sideline. I’m chin-deep in this FIGHT!
  • Fearless in the face of the unknown and unplanned. Life catches us by surprise. I look FORWARD!
  • Tenacious in defining a life on MY TERMS; I call the shots and choose the roads my feet travel.
  • Brazenly, unbelievably HAPPY, HEALTHY and WHOLE as I figure out this new and unfamiliar world. I know you’re still […]

Some Friday Wisdom… Character

11.3.31 - Character

You Got Roots?! | Sunday, 2 March 2014 @ 6PM ET | @AAGSARFacebook

Missing Johnnie Mae ~ Thank You Sandra!:)

Johnnie Mae & Robert LongLaughing about the recent cemetery “adventure” of AAGSAR member Sandra WILLIAMS-BUSH (Ancestral Callings: Georgia & Mississippi), I was reminded of one the funniest family stories ever shared with me by my late Cousin, Johnnie Mae STRINGER LONG.

Mae was Elbert STRINGER’s younger sister, the daughter of Missy DORSEY and John STRINGER. Missy and my GG Grandmother, Marrie WINGFIELD CARTER were Sisters. All of the beautiful DORSEY and STRINGER images I have, came from Mae. Her facial features and voice were so much like that of my Great Grandmother Annie CARTER JACKSON (Mae and Elbert’s first cousin they referred to lovingly as “Baby Sister”), I would just stare at her. It was comforting to be in her presence.

I spent many afternoons with Mae scanning pictures, capturing history and laughing about her fear of ghosts and spirits.

My favorite Mae story?

According to Mae, she’d always been the scary type. When she was a teen she and Elbert would visit Grandma Catie’s grave at Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.

Mae told me when Grandma Catie died, her son John “Bud” WINGFIELD and cousin Harry HECTOR carried a huge boulder via wagon from Washington-Wilkes to place on Catie’s Grave.

Well when they arrived for one visit the boulder had disappeared – sunken COMPLETELY in the ground! On top of Grandma Catie’s grave! And when they attempted to investigate further, Elbert and Mae began to sink into soft earth!

Mae said the calmer Elbert got, the more hysterical she became! Mae said […]

#DangerousBlackKids & Why I ♥ Black Twitter!:)

The Future Leaders Crew - #DangerousBlackKids

The “Future Leaders Crew” reppin’ the South side! Those darn gang members! #DangerousBlackKids

When the #DangerousBlackKids Viral Revolution sparked by our Dream Defenders fades from our socially-conscious side-eye, I want to remember we were there to engage and partake of its relevance and ABSOLUTE beauty!

Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Friends took to Twitter in mass on February 16-17 following the Jordan Davis/Michael Dunn Trial verdict to show America just who our brown and black children REALLY are!

And let me tell you, NEVER has the Twittersphere — black or white — been in such silent-awe and NEVER have our kids shined brighter!:)

Justis - #DangerousBlackKids

Be careful. Justis might use his graphing calculator to formulate you to death. #DangerousBlackKids

No need for me even to attempt to define Black Twitter, when Soraya Nadia McDonald of the Washington Post did it so splendidly!:

Black Twitter is part cultural force, cudgel, entertainment and refuge. It is its own society within Twitter, replete with inside jokes, slang and rules, centered on the interests of young blacks online — almost a quarter of all black Internet users are on […]

By |February 19th, 2014|Events, Journal|4 Comments

BEAUTY IN TRUTH: The Nature of This Flower Is To Bloom…

Alice Walker - Beauty In TruthThough not the case, it feels like I waited a really long time for Beauty in Truth, Pratibha Parmar’s (Kali Films) documentary about Author, Poet, Advocate, Womanist Alice Walker.

Beauty in Truth premiered in London on March 10, 2013. I viewed it by the grace of PBS American Masters series this past Thursday — twice.

So worth the short wait. What a gift to me and Alice’s multitude of admirers. Thank you Pratibha!:)

There were many sweet moments throughout the piece that gave me pause, choked me up, made me laugh aloud. To ‘meet’ the human Alice Walker, apart from the author whose words 25+ years ago gave me release to be me, was surreal. Having context to the life experiences shaping her work? Hearing the narratives of my other sheroes Sonia Sanchez, Jewelle Gomez, Sapphire, Evelyn C. White and Beverly Guy-Sheftall? Man… priceless!

“When I couldn’t deal with reality around me, I would create something.” – Alice Walker

I knew Beauty in Truth would immediately prompt me to write. Alice’s writing has been liberating my inner-voice for a very, very long time!:)

At some point my 14 year old son, Justis joined me to take it all in; he’s grown up in a house filled with Alice’s books — some […]

Justis’ Turn To Fight #4GERRIE! Our 2014 Walk To End Alzheimer’s Is ON!

Justis & CHMS #ENDALZ 2014Justis was a full-term baby born floppy, which is a less clinical way of saying he was oxygen deprived and not breathing. We’ve never really understood why but I remember him being silent and blue, and me being in complete shock, watching my OB-GYN begin chest compressions.

Mom and my Great Aunt Mitzi (Nan) were right beside me, and rather than joining me in silent shock, they immediately began to pray — LOUDLY. It was 30-35 seconds that felt like a lifetime, but as soon as the prayers began, Justis started breathing!

For years, we each told the story of how Mama and Nan prayed Justis back to life. They fought for him when I could not.

Now, almost 15 years later, Mama’s taken rest from the torment of Alzheimer’s Disease, and her Justis is fighting #4GERRIE, #4NAY (our BELL Cousin) and the 5.4 Million people living with Alzheimer’s today.

On Friday 2/7, Justis and his Community House Middle School #ENDALZ Warriors hit the halls with a common mission — $1 for 1 Krispy Kreme doughnut!

900 doughnuts and 25 minutes later, our CHMS Student Supporters had helped the DANIELS family give Alzheimer’s its first kick in the butt for 2014! Focused and impeccably-coordinated, I’ve never seen a fundraiser so successful, flawless and FUN!

Students were happy for the afternoon sugar fix, and open to learning about Alzheimer’s Disease and our mission to find a cure. Several students understood […]

WINGFIELD Slave Manifests From a Ship Named The FLORIDA 1856 & 1859

The-FLORIDA-Slave-Manifest---WINGFIELD-1856---Various

Plantation musings have been ROUGH! When my soul’s Teflon coating has regenerated, I plan to invest time researching these WINGFIELD Slave Manifests discovered via Ancestry’s U.S., Southeast Coastwise Inward and Outward Slave Manifests, 1790-1860.

By my estimates my 6th and/or 7th generation Ancestors could have been Africa-born and survived The Middle Passage.

Inspired by AAGSAR Member Cecilia of Cecilia’s Dig and her 3rd Great Grandfather Mr. Major PERRY, I took a chance locating slave ship manifests for my WINGFIELD and CODY Ancestors of Georgia, and ended up finding several.

For tonight, I’m posting two (2) WINGFIELD manifests from the slave vessel THE FLORIDA — arrival ports Mobile, Alabama (1856) and Savannah, Georgia (1859).

The unknown Ancestors on the slave manifests were owned by WINGFIELDS of Georgia. Given the years of the purchases, I’ll start looking at records for Archibald Simpson WINGFIELD I (b. 1801 – d. 1861). The son of Samuel WINGFIELD, Archibald outlived many of his relatives. In addition to his slave inheritance, as a practicing lawyer he was often named executor of and/or witness to their estates. Archibald, Charles and Garland WINGFIELD owned the majority of my Washington-Wilkes Ancestors in 1860:

  • WINGFIELD, A. S., 66 slaves, page 478B
  • WINGFIELD, C. for self and 2 others, 57 slaves, page 479B
  • WINGFIELD, G., 83 slaves, […]

Finding NO Peace In PEACEWOOD: My WINGFIELD Ancestors Plantation Home

Peacewood I - WINGFIELD Wilkes County GAWINGFIELD-CADE-SAUNDERS House (PEACEWOOD) circa 1936

When I really peer beneath the surface of our country’s damaged history, and how human transgressions have been processed by the descendants inheriting it, I’m challenged to find our cultural silver lining.

I believe the healing salve for historic ignorance and human cruelty lies within our yet to be lived future; to be championed by the untainted souls of descendants far removed from the slave legacy I inherited.

Am I saying Generations X, Baby Boomers and beyond are hopeless? Sadly, yes.

The longer I live, I find it harder to vest in the goodness of mankind when he’s still very much covered in his Ancestors history-stamped residue.

For example, while scanning this 2010 Tours of Home blog post regarding PEACEWOOD, the plantation my WINGFIELD Ancestors built and sustained while enslaved by Thomas WINGFIELD and his descendants, I immediately became angry reading this narrative:

This beautiful old plantation home is a significant and interesting example of a house assembled from different periods and made into a columned plantation seat in the 1840s and 1850s during the period of prosperity before the Civil War.

Beautiful?! William Johnson is referring to the time period when MY ANCESTORS were bought, sold, raped, bred, tormented, overworked and subjugated to the discretion of his or her WINGFIELD owner. A period when their free labor was exploited, bartered […]

If Eyes Could Talk: Unidentified African American Woman 1860-1870

Unidentified-African-American-womanUnidentified African American Woman 1860-1870
The Liljenquist Collection – Library of Congress

By |February 1st, 2014|Uncategorized|2 Comments