Black History Month 2017 – Life Through Art – Post 4

Today we are going to be learning about Edmonia Lewis – the first professional African American sculptor.  If you saw the Google Doodle on February 1st you would have seen Edmonia Lewis.

Celebrating Edmonia Lewis

Lewis was born to a free African American father and a Chippewa Indian mother.  She attended Oberlin College in Ohio, but was kicked out after being accused of poisoning several of her white female schoolmasters.  (All of the claims were unsubstantiated.)

"The Death of Cleopatra," Edmonia Lewis
“The Death of Cleopatra”

Soon after she moved to Boston and did busts of white abolitionists.  In 1865 she traveled to Europe where she settled down in Rome. Rome was a good place for Lewis because she had access to incredible marble. She became famous for her neo-classical style of sculpture.

My personal favorite sculpture is The Old Arrow Maker which lives at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

The Old Arrow Maker

Learn more about Edmonia Lewis below:

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Marvin’s Black History Timeline Part I

Hello everyone! The next three posts will be from my good friend Marvin Dangerfield. Besides having the greatest name of all time he is a Funk/Soul DJ from Detroit who has been living in Japan for awhile. He was a US Marine and found his niche in Japanese Radio and the English Conversation School industries. He is an incredible man who constantly mentors me and makes me sit down when I need it. 🙂 Love you Marvin and thank you for always being willing to contribute to my blog.

Disclaimer: Marvin’s thoughts will be in italics below.


Black History in America, land of the free, home of the brave!!

When it all began!

Hello brothers and sisters may peace and joy be with you and yours. My little sister Heather has asked me to make some comments about Black history in the 60’s, 1965 to be exact, or current Black American history, so I felt it would be best to do a timeline, go back to the roots, and summarize different eras of importance, so please follow me as I try to do this in a simple and hopefully informative fashion.

1619 First slave arrives in Virginia
1793 Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin greatly increases the demand for slave labor
1857 The Dred Scott case holds that Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and, furthermore, that slaves are not citizens.

What if the cotton gin had never been created? What if the first slaves brought to the US had been weak and fragile, un-trainable, and violent to the point of death? Would more slaves have been brought to replenish and replace them? What if?


Free at last, free at last, thank you Jesus, free at last!! Hold up! Wait a minute! Not, so fast?

The Civil War was fought and won by the North and Lincoln freed the slaves. Free to do what? Free to prosper and live a fair equal life as all other Americans? Or, free to choose your own poison? Stay in the South, work on a plantation and be treated as a slave, but only making a penny for your back breaking effort; or move to the North to only find out that they don’t like you too much there as well and although you’re bailing hay or picking cotton you’re still a third class citizen gathered in the worst areas and treated like animals. It’s an all new hell for us to adapt to.

1863 President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the Confederate states “are, and henceforward, shall be free.”

1865 Congress establishes the Freedmen’s Bureau to protect the rights of newly emancipated blacks (March)

•The Civil War ends (April 9)

•Lincoln is assassinated (April 14)

The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee by ex-Confederates (May)

•Slavery in the United States is effectively ended when 250,000 slaves in Texas finally receive the news that the Civil War had ended two months earlier (June 19)

Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting slavery (Dec. 6)


My vote should count; if only I could read, write, know where to vote, and had candidates that actually represented my interests!

Ok, darky don’t get so high and mighty, yeah so your kind are doing well and moving on up to the big leagues, but the man, still controls it all and don’t forget that, so shut up and get back in your place. This here table is for White folks only! Same as this bus, this school, this neighborhood, this everything, casting your little nigger vote ain’t gone change a damn thing!!

1870 Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, giving blacks the right to vote

Hiram Revels, of Mississippi, is elected the country’s first African-American senator

・During Reconstruction, sixteen blacks served in Congress and about 600 served in states legislatures

1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the “colored section” of a bus to a white passenger (Dec.1).

・In response to her arrest, Montgomery’s black community launch a successful year-long bus boycott. Montgomery’s buses are desegregated on Dec. 21, 1956.

It’s time for us to unite and stand up for what we know is right. We see now that to win the battle it has to be a team effort and there has to be a negative economical effect on the white community before the white man will listen to our demands. Power in numbers! If we don’t work together nothing moves. We can do this if we follow our strong and wise leaders into battle. We can and we shall overcome, if not peacefully, then by any means necessary!

Tune in for Part II tomorrow! Thank you for reading! –Heather–

SNCC and BYP 100

Today’s topic will be about two organizations that are nearly 50 years apart in their inception, but have some similarities in their movements and structure.

SNCC (often pronounced “snick”) or the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was a group that emerged from a student meeting at Shaw University led by Ella Baker. The first chairman of the organization was the late Marion Barry who went on to be the Mayor of Washington DC and passed away this past November. Other notable people from Black History served as the chairman of SNCC throughout it’s existence. Those included were John Lewis, Stokely Carmichael, and H. Rap Brown.

The organization was started from an $800 grant from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), but was it’s own organization. James Forman explains in the video below what SNCC wanted to be and achieve.

SNCC was one of the driving forces behind campaigns such as Freedom Summer, the March on Washington, and Voting Rights. During the march from Selma to Montgomery, SNCC was there being led by the current chairman at the time, John Lewis. SNCC members were some of the people jailed, hosed down, trampled, and beaten.

SNCC carried on after the Voting Rights Act was passed, but so many of the members were becoming more disillusioned with the idea that the government would protect their rights to protest and some members started to believe that non-violence was not the answer so the group eventually disbanded in the early 1970s. The last leader of SNCC, Stokely Carmichael, was one of the people that championed the call for Black Power and spoke at a conference at Berkeley in 1966 which helped lead into the Black Panther Party movement.

Jumping forward 45 years I bring you the Black Youth Project, and more specifically BYP100. BYP100 is a grassroots movement being led by incredibly inspirational people like Charlene A. Carruthers. Carruthers, who was born and bred in Chicago, came to be the National Director of BYP100 after she led multiple campaigns with organizations like the Center for Community Change, the Women’s Media Center, and National People’s Action. Basically, she is one of the coolest women ever.

BYP100 itself has stepped out to be one of the organizations that has been leading this movement. It formed in July of 2013 after the Trayvon Martin verdict.

BYP100 is focused on the broad goal of ending the criminalization of Black youth in America. This includes all Black youth whether they are gay, lesbian, straight, trans-gender, cis-gender, bi-sexual, or queer. All. Their mission is as follows:

“We train young Black activists in direct action grassroots organizing skills, so they can build the power we need to transform our communities. We mobilize young Black leaders on issues including ending criminalization and dismantling the prison industrial complex, expanding and securing LGBT and women’s rights. We run campaigns using on the ground and digital tactics towards the goal of ending the criminalization of Black youth, racial profiling and police brutality.”

Their campaigns are being run out of chapters in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, and the Bay Area. They are empowering youth to use their voice, their skills, and their power to protest. They are teaching youth to be the change. And it is incredible to watch.

These two organizations are different, of course, but what strikes me the most is that they are organized and ran by youth and young professionals. Each organization did and is using it’s voice to speak up and show it’s solidarity to the movement and what’s right. Amazing stuff here. Please take a look at the links throughout this post for more information.

Here are a few other links for your reference regarding SNCC:

It’s February! Black History Month 2015 Begins

Hello Everybody!

I wanted to start off this year by telling you thank you, again, for always reading and supporting me. I always genuinely appreciate all your comments, thoughts, and kind words. For those of you that follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr you have probably seen quite a bit from me during the last half of 2014. I have been reading a lot of different media outlets and struggling with a lot of what is happening back home. It has been an incredibly tough 8 months for me in regards to social justice. That being said, I have never been prouder to an American. Seeing so many people take to the streets to protest injustice and using their social media saavy to engage others in digital townhalls and/or discussions has been an incredible thing to watch. I am lucky to have an incredible support system here in Japan and back home. I couldn’t make it through these struggles without all of you. I would also not be able to stay motivated to work harder and smarter without you all.

I want to take a moment, okay a long moment, to thank some of these people individually before we jump into this year’s focus. In Japan I have had constant support from Jeff Horton and Roberte Foster. I am thankful that you two are with me every step of the way and that we understand each other, truly. These two are always willing to hear me vent and are always willing to vent back. They are also willing to brainstorm and that is crucial. We went to the Tokyo Solidarity March together back in December and it was an incredible experience that I will never forget. It was a great way to feel like we were able to DO something.

I’ve also had some amazing support from my faithful friend Ai. She listens and offers new perspectives. Plus, she’s a fierce friend. Ann Tonpakdeethum, Paul Richards, Jamie Duck, and Brett Hamilton have been amazing. It’s not always easy when we grew up in different countries to see where we are all coming from, but there has never been a time where we make each other feel invalid and that is invaluable. Marvin Dangerfield has become my big brother in every aspect of the word. His life experience gives me a new perspective whenever we speak and sometimes when I get too loud he puts me in my place. Thank you. Katie Martin, through teaching me about feminism, has also given me new tools to discuss systemic racism. I am grateful for always receiving articles from you and lunches where we get to shake our fists at the world. Jarrett Gonzalez, I am thankful for you because we get to laugh at the hypocrisy together and you introduced me to the GREAT Ta-Nehisi Coates. Eternally grateful.

Back home, I would like to thank my parents and my brother for always letting me discuss these things with you. Seriously, it is such a lucky thing that I can discuss stuff that is so important to me with you. It gives me a chance for you to know me more and for me to know you. These discussions aren’t always easy, but I thank you for always listening and telling me what you think. This goes for you too Elaine and Jeff. You too, Uncle P and Aunt Cheech.

Asheley Brown, who is constantly volunteering her incredible skills to make me banners every year and helping me make my blog look more snazzy, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

Patricia Fitzwater, Staci Robinson, Adam Ragan, Stephanie Thorson, Shaleese Beasley, Asheley Brown (again), Matthew Ferguson, Jeff Williams, and Michael Weeks. You guys are always down to listen. You are always down to talk. I am forever grateful for that and for your constant and INCREDIBLE friendship. Staci and Adam have read over my thoughts before posting countless times and I can’t thank you enough for feedback. Tyler Olson, Frank Ugochukwu, Chris Carr, Lilia Toson, Kimberly Swanner, NaKenya Shumate, Kim Morris, Paul Washington, Lemmie Nelson, and Amber Richards are constantly giving me articles on Facebook (ie I stalk your pages) and inspiring me to do more. Thank you.

Rick Fearnley and Shona Lawley. I have been so appreciative of your listening ears and hearing your thoughts. I have also appreciated your support immensely.

Ben Murray. We have vehemently disagreed about almost everything. Not everything, but close. However, I am thankful for your constant discussion and respect. I think we have been able to facilitate some discussions online that may not have brought some people in before. I thank you for this and look forward to continuing our discussions as time goes by.

I am also thankful for the resources I have accumulated over the last couple years. Whether it is Eunique Jones-Gibson and her amazing Because of Them, We Can campaign or Luuvie Ajayi and her humor blog that is also insightful or the BYP 100 and their incredible non-stop organizing or Urban Cusp and their amazing online campaigns like #NotOneDime or #BlackOutBlackFriday. Thank you for constantly feeding me with new information and thoughts.

Okay, so that’s enough thanking. 🙂 It’s getting too mushy over here. Lol.

Here is what we are doing this year! Since this year is the 50th Anniversary of the Selma march, the Malcolm X assassination, and the Voting Rights Act I thought it may be a good idea to reflect on 1965. I would also like to reflect on how what happened 50 years ago is effecting today, but also how they are similar. I will have some guest writers this year so please be on the lookout for them.

Thank you again, and Happy February 1st!

Hugs and Love,


Black History Month 2014 – Quinci Moody : Leaning In & Spreading The Gospel

Quinci Moody. I was lucky enough to meet her through her equally amazing younger brother, James, who has been one of my closest friends since he took the East High Jazz Band by storm in the fall of 1999. Quinci is one of the nicest, strongest people I’ve ever met and she’s always supported my blog initiative. So, you can imagine that I am more than excited to be featuring Quinci and the amazing work she is doing.

Quinci is a senior director at a nonprofit, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and most proudly, a Woman of God. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and raised in Washington, D.C., she is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a degree in English and minors in Business Management and Secondary Education. She then went on to graduate with a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from American University in 2005. She is currently in the process of completing yet another degree from the Spirit of Faith Bible Institute. All that right there is enough to make one go “WOW”, but we’re just getting started.

Quinci’s passion for doing good came early on in her career. While pursuing her graduate studies, Quinci performed research and analysis for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Women’s Rights Department with a specific focus on how public policy regarding the federal budget, social security, and Medicaid affects working women. Simultaneously, she served as Management Specialist for Center for Minority Studies, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the health literacy of underserved populations. While at Center for Minority Studies, Quinci launched her career in organizational development and capacity building by creating and implementing successful fundraising, human resources, and board development infrastructures for the upstart organization.

After graduate school, Quinci continued to strengthen organizations through her role as Program Associate at Fair Chance, an organization that provides nonprofit leaders with tools and knowledge they need to thrive. Her desire to provide more direct service to her community led Quinci to accept a position as Director of Programs and Evaluation at FLY (Facilitating Leadership in Youth), which helps Washington, DC youth achieve their educational goals while promoting leadership development and arts enrichment.

Today, Quinci is Director of Operations at The Fishing School, a nonprofit that provides year-round out-of-school-time academic and enrichment programs for Washington, DC youth and the families.

I know that by now you are probably thinking that Quinci is one of the most motivated individuals you’ve ever heard about, and you’re right. On top of all of this amazing work that she does to build people up and provide them with tools for success she is also the co-founder of virtuositee™, a clothing company and ministry hybrid that spreads the gospel of Christ through apparel that lets people know that being saved in Christ Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The company’s mission is to ignite dialogue about Christianity with products that marry faith and fashion – what they like to call “wearing your faith.” Quinci is clear about why she and her partners founded virtuositee. She says, “Christianity isn’t a religion. It’s a lifestyle. Being Christian means, LIVING the Word, not just claiming it. And that’s what the virtuositee brand is all about.”

If you are interested in learning more about virtuositee™ and the ladies that founded it please check out this radio program below or log onto

Discover Youth Internet Radio with Teen Talk Radio Show on BlogTalkRadio

Thank you, Quinci, for inspiring others and continuing to do amazing things.

Black History Month 2014 – Yasmine Arrington

“The tassle is worth the hassle!” – Yasmine Arrington, founder of ScholarCHIPS

I found out about this lovely woman when I was researching the organization Black Girls Rock, Inc. She was featured as one of the M.A.D. Girls during the 2012 awards show. (See the video link here.) M.A.D. stands for `Making a Difference` and this phrase could not be more true for this wonderful individual. She and I have emailed back and forth less than 10 times and her spirit, joy, and overall awesomeness have blown me away. I can’t wait to actually get to know her so I can be transformed for the better. This is her story.

Yasmine Alexandra Arrington was born and raised in Washington, DC. She is currently a junior Strategic Communications and History double-major at Elon University in North Carolina. At Elon, Arrington sings and serves in the Elon University Gospel Choir, as president of Potter’s Poets, a radio personality on WSOE 89.3, and is an Elon Arts & Sciences College Fellow conducting independent research on “The Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Educational Outcomes of their Offspring in Washington, DC from 1970 to 1990.” She is also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Their principles are Scholarship, Service, Sisterly Love, and Finer Womanhood.

Having been the child of a previously incarcerated parent, in 2010, Arrington founded the non-profit ScholarCHIPS to provide college scholarships and mentoring for graduating high school seniors of parents in prison, pursuing a higher education. To date, ScholarCHIPS has awarded over $19,000 in college scholarships.

If Yasmine’s personal story doesn’t resonate with you for the inspiration of this budding non-profit organization please take a look at this quote from Johnston, D. * “The Care and Placement of Prisoners’ Children”.

“An estimated 200,000 children in this country have an imprisoned mother and more than 1.6 million have an imprisoned father. With the nation’s incarcerated population growing by an average of 6.5% each year, the number of children with parents in prison will likely continue to increase. Parental incarceration — and the crimes and arrests that precede it — causes chaos in the lives of these children, including traumatic separations and erratic shifts from one caregiver to another. Most children with incarcerated parents live in poverty before, during, and after their parents’ incarceration.”

These facts coupled with Yasmine’s personal experiences as a child of an incarcerated parent are the reasons why ScholarCHIPS exists and the reason why we all have a stake in the success of the children of incarcerated parents. Yasmine is just finding her way to give back and help other young people achieve the dreams they have set for themselves.

Arrington’s latest projects are her blog entitled, “Young, Black, and Beautiful…In College,” and her YouTube channel “YazzieSpeaks the Truth,” both in which she examines the realities of being a black female attending a predominantly White institution, aims to excite Black youth about the vast possibilities of a collegiate experience, and gives her clean, humorous commentary on real life events. In addition, Arrington is a poet, motivational speaker, and plus size model. She aspires to be a Broadcast Journalist and TV show host; two occupations that will allow and empower her to inform the community about social injustices, recognize entrepreneurial businesses, and highlight positive changes taking place.

Check out Yasmine being featured in Essence Magazine, Empower Magazine, Teen Vogue, and the Washington Post.

This is just the beginning of Yasmine’s story and I CANNOT wait to see how bright her star shines.

Black History Month 2014 – Akua Willis

Akua Willis is taking the music world by storm.  I got connected to Akua through my good friend Asheley and man, look at all she’s doing. This is her story.

Akua is a noted singer/songwriter, dancer and actress. From birth, this Dallas Texas native was destined for greatness. Akua, a Ghanaian name meaning born on a great day and will be great, has been devoted to the performing arts her whole life.

After receiving her BA in Dance and Drama from Spelman College, she’s had the privilege of working with such famed artists as Eminem, Jamie Foxx, Nikki Minaj, Stevie Wonder, Debbie Allen (Fame, 3 time Emmy winner), Allee Willis (Grammy winner & Emmy nominated songwriter; September – Earth, Wind, & Fire “I’ll Be There” – Friends Theme Song), Yolanda Adams, Miguel, Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris, Martin), Bone Thugs & Harmony, Carl Thomas, Chaz Shepard (7th Heaven, Set It Off), Gloria Gaynor, Abraham McDonald (Def Jam), and many more.

She has worked on major television shows like the X Factor, American Idol, Dancing w/ the Stars, The Grammy’s, & the NAACP awards and has graced the stage, countless times, at such venues as The House of Blues, Foxx Hole Live, & RnB Live Hollywood. This talented singer/songwriter creates a great blend of R&B/Jazz/Gospel with her unique soulful sound, that keeps audiences captivated and wanting more.

She recently released her much anticipated EP on iTunes entitled No Other Love and will be touring in a city near you.

To find out more about Akua go to, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or tumblr.

Black History Month 2014 – Lonnie Bush

Lonnie Bush is strength personified. Ms. Bush is quickly becoming Kansas City’s premier guru on fitness authority. This is her story.

Lonnie Bush is the owner/fitness instructor of Lonnie Bush Fitness, Author, and Founder of a Non-Profit Foundation. She is an architect of the “Total Body Workout.” She is also a breast cancer survivor. Although, she makes it her lifestyle, Lonnie strives to be a motivator and a role model to all that seek to become physically fit and live a healthy life. She also avidly advocates for breast cancer awareness, education, and the continuous quality care of life for cancer patients.

As a triple negative breast cancer survivor, Lonnie Bush is 3 years CANCER FREE. As a mother, fitness trainer, and Ford Motor Company employee she has always been an inspiration for others in more ways than one. During her battle with cancer never once did she ask “Why Me?” She said to herself and others “if it can happen to me, a person that eats healthy, works out 6 days a week, and has no history of cancer on either side of my family then it can happen to anyone”.

While fighting cancer, she decided to keep a journal of all the stages of the battle, the activities on a day to day basis, and the people who supported her during the struggle. The result of the journal is the manifestation of a book that became 26,000 words of inspiration during the fight against cancer. The title of the book is “Cancer Was My Blessing”. If you are interested in purchasing the book it can be found on Amazon.

Lonnie believes that this book will be an incredible inspiration for people that are battling cancer as well as their families & friends that seek to understand this struggle. It helps explain the different ways to deal with the daily ups and downs of the fight. She started a non-profit foundation called Celebration of Life. This foundation helps those in need of specific necessities. Upon receiving donations, the Celebration of Life Foundation goes to hospitals and clinics to pay co-pays for cancer patients discretely (Paying it forward). Also, the foundation receives and buys wigs, hats, scarves, and more to patients that lose their hair in the process of fighting cancer. Throughout the year, Lonnie sponsors many initiatives and drives which benefit cancer patients.

Lonnie would love to have people to get involved before cancer touches their family and help motivate others to keep fighting cancer. She asks, “If you know anyone who has cancer please share with them 26,000 words of inspiration, “Cancer Was My Blessing” and send them to her Gym where cancer patients get to work out for FREE.

Get tested, early detection is vital!

Inspired yet?

Check out more here.

Like the “Cancer Was My Blessing” Facebook page!

Black History Month 2014 – Shaleese Beasley-Rockett

Shaleese Beasley-Rockett has been one of my best friends since I first met her in 2002. Man, how time flies. We were from the same city (Des Moines, IA), but had never met until we went to school together at William Jewell College. We could have been unlikely friends since we both had such differing views of the city we grew up in. However, since we both love to listen and learn from others we could take our experiences and bring them together in a way that improved both of our world views. And we have been supporting and loving each other ever since. You can read a bit more about Shaleese and the awesomeness that resonates from her in the feature I did on her in 2012, here (in my blog archive).

I am now proud to say that Shaleese has taken the entrepreneurial route in a way that may not seem like she’s building up a business, but building up a community. After receiving her Masters in Social Work she started a women’s group called SnAP in the fall of 2011 with the purpose being to reach underserved women within the Kansas City community and shaping each mind to become stronger. Shaleese co-facilitates this program with Ms. Sylvia Goodloe, LMSW. It is part of Reconciliation Services.

Since it’s conception, SnAP has served 75 women in the Greater Kansas City Area. Each group has 8 to 10 women and runs for 8 weeks. The sessions help participants identify distorted attitudes and alter perceptions. This process is obtained by applying awareness through journaling, narrative, self instruction, brain development activities, and imagery.

SnAP stands for Strength, eNergy, and Power. The mission statement is “to increase women’s understanding of how trauma and depression impact the mind, body, and soul.” And, with each session, Shaleese and Sylvia are definitely improving the lives of women in the Greater Kansas City Area, while inspiring their loved ones around them.

Keep it up Beaz. You’re a star.

Black History Month 2014 – Tyra Banks

When most people think of Tyra Banks they are probably thinking either Victoria’s Secret or America’s Next Top Model. You may even remember The Tyra Banks Show that ran from 2005-2010. This is really where she came onto my radar. The more I have learned about Tyra though, the more I have come to respect her.

Before we even get to her entrepreneurial feats let’s also remember that she has had plenty of feats in the “Black Firsts” category. She was the first black woman to grace the covers of GQ, the Victoria’s Secret Catalog, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

   As Tyra began moving out of the modeling world and into acting more she developed her own production company that started out as Ty Ty Baby Productions which turned into the present day Bankable Productions. This is the production company that has brought us The Tyra Banks Show and America’s Next Top Model. Bankable Productions also produced a film targeted at young women called ‘The Clique.’ I highly recommend it for parents with tweens and teens.

But where Tyra really hits my heart is her work with young women. She inspires them to be their true selves and reach for their dreams. She started a camp called TZone and it has since morphed into The Tyra Banks TZone and will have it’s permanent location in New York in partnership with The Lower East Side Girls Club.

Tyra is an entrepreneur that has put her life towards making the lives of young women a much bigger, better, and brighter place.