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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Black History Month 2017 – Life Through Art – Post 3

Today we will be learning about Julien Hudson.  Hudson was a freeman of mixed race from New Orleans.  He was active as an artist from 1830-1840 and was an incredible portrait painter.

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One of his most important works was his painting Battle of New Orleans which documented the contribution made to the War of 1812 by the famous corps of free Black soldiers who were commanded by Colonel Michel Jean Fortier, Jr., who was white.  Now, I scoured the internet for this painting and I can’t find it anywhere, so I apologize that we can’t see it.

julien

However, Hudson also painted the only known self-portrait of an African American artist in the antebellum period in 1839.

julien

For more information on Hudson you can look below:

Black History Month 2017 – Life Through Art – Post 2

Welcome back!  Today we are talking about Scipio Moorhead.  He was the earliest significant Black fine artist.  Moorhead was born in 1773 and was a slave who was owned by Reverand John Moorhead from Boston.

Moorhead was most famous for being commissioned by Phyllis Wheatley to paint a portrait of her that she used as the frontispiece to all her books.

Phillis Wheatley by Scipio Moorhead (c. 1773):

Phyllis Wheatley, who was the first African American to publish a book of poems, dedicated her poem “To S.M., a young African Painter, on seeing his Works” in her book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

For more information on Scipio Moorhead look at the links or book below:

Black History Month 2017 – Life Through Art – Post 1

Welcome to Black History Month 2017!

Although this has been a bleak start to the year for some of us we are still going to celebrate the greatness in Black History!

This year I am going to focus on Black art – painters, sculptors, cartoonists, and artists.  I was inspired to focus on this because since I have moved home I met a man who is a curator of Black art.  My hope is to be able to interview him for this blog so you can know a bit about his life too.

Domino Players, by Horace Pippin

Today we will start with Horace Pippin.  Horace Pippin was a self-taught artist that was born on February 22, 1888 in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  He started creating art as a child and won accolades for his craft, but didn’t start getting serious about it until after World War I.

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Pippin was part of the African-American 369th Infantry, aka Harlem’s Hell Fighters. (The entire unit eventually received France’s Croix de Guerre honor.)  While in France Pipping lost the use of his right arm after being shot which limited his ability to paint.

Image result for horace pippin

When he returned he had began to produce burnt-wood panels, a technique known as pyrography, but his preferred medium, despite his disability, was oil painting.

He went on to produce dozens of paintings over the course of his career.  He was most famous for his depictions of trench-warfare, African-American life, biblical imagery, and his highly publicized paintings of the abolitionist John Brown and President Abraham Lincoln.

He was also the first African-American painter to express his concerns about war and social-political injustices in his art, and his compositions on those themes are forceful and striking.

For more information about Horace Pippin check out the links below:

http://www.phillipscollection.org/research/american_art/bios/pippin-bio.htm

http://www.brandywine.org/museum/exhibitions/horace-pippin-way-i-see-it

https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/museums/horace-pippin-the-way-i-see-it-a-self-taught-artists-learned-teacher/2015/05/21/a1485b54-fe4a-11e4-805c-c3f407e5a9e9_story.html?utm_term=.de13d821f65b

http://www.biography.com/people/horace-pippin-9441456#prominent-arts-career

The Life and Art of Horace Pippin

 

Black History Through Movements

Today’s guest post is by the always incredible Jeff Horton. Jeff has lived in Japan for 10 years and is originally from the Bronx in New York. We’ve known each other since I moved to Japan in 2011 and he continues to inspire me everyday. Please enjoy the thoughts below and let me know what you think.

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“We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall overcome, someday”.

These peaceful protest words of the 1960’s were my first exposure to Civil Rights movement history that I learned as a first grade student in my multicultural elementary school in Harlem, New York City in the mid 1980’s. We were taught a lighthearted version of history where whites and blacks did not get along in the past. We were fed this idea that racism was a mere disagreement between cultures and not the total oppression of a people because of the color of their skin. Now, being an educator myself, I realize my teacher had to show us a history where although there were injustices we were not to blame anyone specifically as to alienate that person/group of people, but rather to just move forward and try to do better than our ancestors did. By taking these steps towards a brighter future “we shall overcome” is what I learned in that classroom. And I believed every word of it because almost all of my friends in elementary school were white. I had felt that we had overcome racial injustices and were on the path to racial equality for all.

“All power to the people”.

Moving from the 60’s to the 70’s, where the far more aggressive and far-left Black political leaders, the Black Panthers, attempt to lead the Black community towards prosperity. Their militant position on Black Nationalism, Maoism, anti-capitalism, anti-fascism, anti-imperialism Marxism-Leninism, Revolutionary socialism, and anti-racism put a negative spin on what Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers worked so hard to get for the Black community. With such powerfully Black led groups growing in power, the government began to lay down laws that would directly affect the Black and brown communities; specifically drug laws. In the 70’s, Richard Nixon led the country in the “war on drugs”. Nixon declared the use of drugs in America “public enemy number one”. With this policy enacted, police began to comb the dangerous/bad (i.e. Black and brown) neighborhoods arresting all that were suspected of drug crimes; both consumption and sales. “All power to the people” had been taken away and given to the government to silence those that would try to oppose its authority.

“One Nation Working together, For Justice and Equality Everywhere”.

The NAACP comes to the foreground in the 1980’s. We see such Black leaders such as Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton take political stances fighting for such things like affirmative action and equal opportunity rights for people of color to have a fighting chance both academically and for job security. At this time we also saw the first possible candidate for a Black male president (Jesse Jackson), which was quickly thwarted once the media got hold of the Reverend Jackson calling New York City “Hymietown”. In addition, we see the government began to fear the Black community more and more thinking they would rise up and topple the government. This led to government pushbacks on Black communities with such programs as Reganomics and Black entrepreneurialism. Both of these policies were put into place to raise the already wealthy class to a whole new level of wealth whilst having the Black community sell dangerous drugs to one another (crack cocaine and malt liquor) destroying Black communities. “One Nation Working together, For Justice and Equality Everywhere” was slowly turning in to dividing a nation into inequality for everyone.

“Can’t we all just get along?”.

With the absence of strong Black leaders in the 90’s we see a drastic increase in police violence towards its Black citizens. We first see the savage beating of Rodney King after a high speed car chase in Los Angeles in 1992. His pleas for the officers to stop what they are doing to him go unheard as they continue to beat him into complete submission. Although the ruthless beating was caught on tape, all of the officers were let go without any charges. We see an even bigger spike in racial tension in the 90’s when O.J. Simpson is accused of brutally killing his (white) wife. The divide in the US was crystal clear. Many white US citizens believed him to be guilty and the Black community believed him to be innocent. When O.J. was acquitted the Black community felt like they had “won” something because for the first time a Black man was able to beat the system like a white man would have been able to do much more easily, but it was a win for the Black community none the less. Towards the end of the 90’s we see an even bigger spike in police brutality towards the minority community when we saw the (once again) videotaped incident of Amadou Diallo. Police officers shot at this young, unarmed Black man 41 times while hitting his body 19 times. This brought to the forefront of what was really going on in Black and brown communities.

Justice for Trayvon”/”Hands up, Don’t Shoot”/”I Can’t Breathe”.

Within the first 15 years of a new millennium, police brutality has become the center of national attention. One of the biggest sparks of bringing police brutality to light was the death of Trayvon Martin. This began a snowball of claims coming from all over the country against the police. Most recently have been the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. With the body count still increasing day by day we are having grassroots movements pop up such as the #BlackLivesMatter group, who have pledged to bring the injustices that go on around the country to light. The general public has decided to stop turning a blind eye to the obvious prejudice that still runs rampant in our legal system. The cries of the people are relentless and share a similar spirit to that of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. Throughout the decades we can see how racism has affected Black communities through the words they chose to represent each movement. We have gone from “We shall overcome” to “I can’t breathe” and everything in-between.

“All Lives Matter”
Through the trials and tribulations of recent events, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken a lot of flack for its outcry of inequality for Black and brown people. They have been criticized that their message is exclusive and divides people even more than they already are. People have even tried to counter the Black Lives Matter movement by saying that the message should be All Lives Matter. While I wholeheartedly agree with the message that All Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter is not ready to support such a broad statement. By claiming that All Lives Matter at such an early stage of this revolution you cast a shadow over the truth about racial inequality in the United States, that Blacks have been treated more like property and laborers than people for centuries. Blacks make up only 13% of the American population, but make up 80% of the prison system. John Legend recently stated at the Oscars, “there are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850”, which goes to show the state of Black lives after nearly 6 decades of “civil equality”.

From the bottom of my heart, I believe that All Lives Matter will become a part of the Black Lives Matter message, but not just yet. Black Lives Matter needs to move forward with everyone hand in hand to show that people from all walks of life are willing to help the most disadvantaged. Fighting together – Black, white, Asian, African and Latinos – we stand strong showing that through a movement for Black lives we make a positive contribution to the future of all lives.

Marvin’s Black History Timeline Part 3

The Chosen One!

We survived. We gained power. We have successful Black public figures, stars, sports figures, politicians; the whole kit and caboodle. But, we don’t have justice, things are not the same for us as they are for others, we are treated like second class citizens, we’re beat down, murdered; you name it and we’ve lived and felt it. What!! There is a brother, not named Jesse Jackson, who is running for president!! Must be a damn joke, who the hell is he? Where in the world is he from? What? When? Where? HOW? Wait a minute…this brother is young, smart, cool, and funny. Not only is he smart – he is intelligent and charismatic. Both whites and Blacks are listening to him; especially the young who are looking for hope and change. The poor Blacks like him because he shoots ball, talks like them, and has some roots in Chi-town. The older Blacks think that he is the Chosen One, the Black Jesus come to lead his people. Stop! Almost, but not all that, that is too much for one man! He ain’t Jesus, but he has given us a new pride to take things to the next level. We can do this if we try.

2008 Sen. Barack Obama, Democrat from Chicago, becomes the first African-American to be nominated as a major party nominee for president.

• On November 4, Barack Obama, becomes the first African-American to be elected President of the United States, defeating Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain.

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The Now! The real color of America and the broken machine!

As a child born in the 60’s, I was born at a special time, a turning point in Black history. Knowing the past injustices and living in the hood, but also being a baby boomer and enjoying the 70’s / 80’s / 90’s and on, without ever having been physically or mentally touched by racism, but know that just under the skin it is (and has) always been there. We talk and live and think differently from whites, but it doesn’t mean we don’t want the same thing. The 10% that messes up things for everyone are the ones we need to reach, the true niggas with no goals, self esteem, family or community values.

But we must now go back to the Rosa Parks incident and use what was so successful for us. Boycott, strike, don’t work for or buy things from prejudiced establishments, use our economic might to change laws, and to fight the battles that can’t stop a bullet.

We must clean up or own yards, police our own people, find that one binding factor that touches us all and that we will all listen to, but sadly enough it’s been staring us in the face the whole time.

Unite in an economic battle. Don’t buy Nike, buy Black. Screw McDonalds, eat at the Soul Food Factory. Tiger, Jordan, Denzel, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and others have the power to unite us. They must do this for their people; the people that made them.

No more twerking or Worldstar fight clips. Wake up brothers and sister, you can still be cool and have fun, but use dignity, common sense, and what we have that can help bring up those that don’t. No handouts, but programs that teach them and put them into a positive economic environment.

That’s the dream Martin had. Now we must live it, just do it, be it.

Lastly, maybe (just maybe) when Obama’s term is up, he can focus on getting the real message out to his people. I still have hope that he is the One!

Marvin’s Black History Timeline Part 2

Our Leaders Are Taken From Us!

They took Malcolm and John and Martin, and in doing so they broke our spirits and took our hearts and souls. We will still fight and move forward because we are survivors, but without our strong and wise leaders we as a people will never ever be truly united as one. If only the color of our skin could be the glue that binds then we would be strong. However, we, as black people, suffer the same unjust, unequal, and unfair lies that were promised to us. Sadly we do not think or act the same since we come from a slave mentality, broken houses, and a lack of education. We, as a people, will never be unified. There is not one message that touches us all the same way. We have no trust in the establishment.

1965 Malcolm X, Black Nationalist and founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is assassinated (Feb. 21)

• State troopers violently attack peaceful demonstrators, led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as they try to cross the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. Fifty marchers are hospitalized, on what is now called “Bloody Sunday”, after police use tear gas, whips, and clubs against them. The march is considered the catalyst for pushing through the Voting Rights Act five months later (March 7)

• Congress passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern Blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting are made illegal (Aug. 10)

• In six days of rioting in Watts, a black section of Los Angeles, 35 people are killed and 883 injured (Aug. 11-16)

1966 The Black Panthers are founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale (Oct.)

1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. (April 4)

“Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud! James Brown, Ali, Vietnam, segregation, the projects, drugs. It’s all starting to take its toll on us, we are angry, and it’s time to burn this MoFo to the ground! I ain’t no damn slave and I ain’t bailing no hay or picking no cotton. Try to make me do it and see what I do to you! I’m a strong, angry black man and the gate is open. I’m out here, so look out, here I come to get you!!”

I think this image is what scared the hell out of whitey and that’s when the establishment went into protection mode, “We must not let them niggers succeed! We must keep them down, send the watch dogs (the police) to police them, give them drugs and guns, and let them kill themselves. This will prove that they are the animals we know them to be!!”

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1970’s ~ 2000 Social and economical issues

Since the gains of the 1950s–1970s, African-American communities have been suffering from extremely high incarceration rates of their young males. This is due to a variety of factors that include the Drug War, imposition of sentencing guidelines, cutbacks in government assistance, and restructuring of industry (including the loss of working-class jobs) that lead to high poverty rates, government neglect, a breakdown in traditional family units, and unfavorable social policies. African-Americans have the highest imprisonment rate of any major ethnic group in the world.

The Southern states of the former Confederacy, which had historically maintained slavery longer than the remainder of the country and imposed post-Reconstruction oppression, have the highest rates of incarceration and application of the death penalty.

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.

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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?

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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)

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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, ColorOfChange.org 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:

http://www.crmvet.org/docs/orgsdocs.htm#docssncc
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/index.html
http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/sncc
http://zinnedproject.org/materials/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,

Heather