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Some Friday Wisdom… Character

11.3.31 - Character

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

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 […]

#DREAMFORWARD Call To Action: Congressman John LEWIS, 1961 Freedom Rider

Congressman John LewisCongressman John LEWIS, 1961 Freedom Rider:

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, turning it into a modern-day pulpit. He saw an America where men and women of all colors would be loved equally as God’s children. He invited us to not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ We have come a long way in these fifty years, but we are not there yet. We need to find ways to share our common humanity, instead of finding differences to divide us. I am encouraged by #DREAMFORWARD’s efforts to reaffirm Dr. King’s Dream for the future. I hope young people are inspired by this observance to choose the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. Young people are the future, and more than ever before, we need them to be unafraid to stand up for what is right, to speak up and speak out, to get in the way and to cause some good trouble in the name of a better America. We must dare to carry the dream of a world that is more fair and more just. If we do those things, if we keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize, we can advance Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream in 2014 and beyond.”

All RACES. All AGES. One PURPOSE. #DREAMFORWARD

01.15.14 #DREAMFORWARD

DREAMFORWARD Inspiration #2Be open to whatever comes next… #DREAMFORWARD

Image Source: Dina Wakley

Thanks To You AAGSAR’s #BLOGFEST2014 Was EPIC!:)

Dora KOONCE & son, James HARDY(EN) KOONCEI’d searched ALL DAY for the word to sum up my feelings regarding our first New Year’s #BLOGFEST – We Call Your Name event. Then after the tweets died down and we were all descending from our Ancestors clouds, Bernita (still a NEW KID herself) of Voices Inside My Head nailed it, “BLOGFEST was epic!”.

It was indeed. I’ve never in all my years of researching genealogy, felt more connected to a body of work, than I do today. I never planned on it, have frequently complained about it, and sometimes get up the nerve to question the Ancestors why they have me doing it. But I know this work is Divine, and I’m so thankful to be a part of bringing not just my, but MANY Ancestors out of the dark. They are SHINING. BREATHING. REJOICING!

I’m hard on you NEW KIDS because I need you to embrace fully the responsibility that rests on your shoulders. And should the day come I take hiatus, I want you equipped with EVERYTHING you need to push your Ancestors, and our collective Community FORWARD.

NEW KIDS your work will bloom and spread. Many will follow your lead. If you call them, Ancestors and newly connected Cousins will come (in my best James Earl Jones, Field of Dreams voice). You’ve shifted the landscape and narrative of our genealogy research FOREVER.

I thank you

We Call Your Name

We Call Your Name

When I was a young girl living at home, sometimes, just before I dropped off to sleep, I would see the air of my room filled with Spirits. They didn’t say anything to me. They didn’t frighten me. They were just there, indistinct, swirling.

On Saturdays my mother would drive us over to my grandparent’s house on Detroit’s East Side. My mother and Aunt sat in the front. We four cousins squeezed into the back seat. In the winter it was dark. If I was lucky enough to get a window, I’d look into the lit windows of the houses we passed and wonder about the people and the stories they were living.

Each of our blogs is like those lighted windows. In them we tell our Ancestor’s stories, stories to be read by our families and by the rest of the community. Stories that are so much more varied and moving and true than any stereotyped version of our history could ever be.

Today, as we launch over 25 new African American Genealogy blogs during the AAGSAR Blogfest 2014, I can feel the Ancestor’s Spirits swirling around us as they see their stories being told, their pictures shared and their names being called.

To Our Ancestors,

… we stand before you now, your living legacy, the flesh and blood of our collective dreaming, and we realize with a knowing deeper than the flow of human blood in human veins that we are part of something better, truer, deeper.

We speak your names.
We speak your names.

                                    “We Speak Your Names” Pearl Cleage, pg. 15

River Rise: Our Ancestors Are Calling…

AncestorsOn many levels I’ve always had a close connection to India.Arie. Our Atlanta roots. Our Oshun nature. My love and respect for her family – Mother, Simpson and Big Bro J’on. Though I didn’t have opportunity to fulfill my promise, in 2009 I was offered a gift to design her brand, Soul Bird. And Lord, the music…

India’s music ALWAYS seems to flow in parallel with my life journey. I often find sanctuary in her melodies.

This morning I take refuge in River Rise from her Testimony: Vol 2, Love & Politics album. By far one of my favorite tracks, River Rise is a beautiful, sincere petition to the Ancestors for guidance. A call to return to all things familiar and soul-fortifying.

As we make final preparations for our first AAGSAR BLOGFEST2014 on Sunday, Jan 5th and set our feet for a New Year overflowing with Ancestor discoveries, this is my wish for myself and all those seeking to connect with their lost lineage.

Not to fly blind. Be my eyes. I surrender. Show me the way…

There was always a power I could feel
It was guidance to tell me the way to go
But nowadays I feel like I can’t hear that voice
I’ve been flying blind
I need You to come and be my eyes

River rise, carry me back home
I cannot remember the way
River rise, carry me back home
I […]

KWANZAA ~ Principle 7: IMANI = Faith

IMANI (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

In some capacity I’ve worked to uplift my community for the greater part of 30 years. I’ve been volunteer, counselor, advocate, analyst, champion, cheerleader and organizer. I’ve worked on all sides — government, local, non-profit and private sector. I’ve supported politicians, civic leaders, civil rights heroes and everyone in between.

I do have Imani (faith) in the rightness of our efforts and victory over our struggles is attainable — to some degree. I do believe but my faith doesn’t rest in people, flawed just like me, anymore. My faith has changed with every year, victory and disappointment.

I believe I have to change the world from where I’m standing and not relegate “deliverance” from struggle to someone other than ME.

I believe in the power of truth when spoken with honorable intentions. I believe in doing what’s just and honorable, even when it’s damn hard to do! I believe bad karma can be turned by being RELENTLESS in applying good.

I believe each day we all have an opportunity to get it (life) right. Or at least make it better. I believe in my responsibility to my community.

I dig Toni Cade BAMBARA’s take on truth, responsibility and community…

“My responsibility to myself, my neighbors, my family and the human family is to try to tell the truth. That ain’t easy. There are so few truth-speaking traditions in this society in which the myth of “Western civilization” has claimed the allegiance of so many. We have rarely been encouraged and equipped to appreciate the […]

A Simple Promise to Sandra – Happy New Year!:)

I was in my car on February 15, 2013 when I learned via a Genea-Traveler email from Felicia of Echoes of My Nola Past, Sandra TALIAFERRO had passed. It took my breath away. San and I hadn’t spoken in a long time. Too long really. I didn’t even realize Sandra had been ill.

Though the heaviness of her passing followed me for days, I couldn’t help feeling San was finally free. I could see her interviewing the TALIAFERRO and MIDDLEBROOKS Ancestors she’d spent countless hours searching for. I could see her getting to know her daddy, John Lawrence TALIAFERRO and reuniting with her Mama, Lillian MIDDLEBROOKS who passed on September 27, 2009 — San’s birthday.

I could see her walking and exploring and if she felt like it — probably running!:)

Many don’t know Sandra spent almost 45 years in a wheelchair. In route to student orientation on her first day of college at Clark Atlanta University, Sandra and friends were in a terrible car accident that nearly took her life. In spite of her physical constraints, Sandra rose — in every possible way.

Sandra TALIAFERRO was as stubborn as a mule, but she was truly amazing too! I hope she knows that now. So in October when San came and sat on my shoulders to say something had to be done to prevent her research from being lost, I knew better than to ignore her!:)

The timing stunk! I’d just loss Mama 8/5 and started AAGSAR 8/15. Small gestures of attempting to pay for her I Never Knew My Father domain or rescue research […]