black history month 2019

Some Cream & Sugar for Black History Month 2019

“Old people have wisdom, but God has wisdom and power. Old people have insight; God has insight and power to act. When God tears down, who can rebuild and who can free those God imprisons? Drought comes when God withholds rain; floods come when He turns water loose.”

Job 12: 12-15

I grew up beneath an umbrella of wise but strange and broken misfits. Most of my tender lessons came from elders who used my mother’s dining room table like a podium, a bottle in a brown paper sack as their microphone, a spiraling wreath of smoke above their heads as their visual presentation. 

But I did learn their lessons of heartache, loss, unrequited dreams and incessant regrets. I always listened. They seemed grateful to have someone who would listen and maybe even be saved, because they dared to reveal the darkest shadows lurking within themselves.

The Book of Job reminds me of those wise elders at my mother’s dining room table—the questions, the searching, the unintentional blame placed on others and themselves. I love this verse when Job finally realizes that none of them are in control. None of them have the answers and all of them are vulnerable beings in need of mercy.  

Sometimes, I think we can feel overwhelmed with the state of our country and the world. It feels like God is withholding the rains. But I was reminded of this verse and yes, it does speak of droughts, but it also speaks of floods. It tells us that God turns the waters loose. I think God still does that today in a flood of voices and echoes of protest for the vulnerable beings in need of mercy.  But I think He first turned the waters loose in the 50s and 60s when voices sang out, “We shall overcome, we shall overcome, someday…” 

Many of those voices who sang then are still singing out today. We are still underneath their umbrella of wisdom. I beg you to see, to listen, to know, to feel their stories. 

John Lewis
John Lewis was 18 years old when he first met Dr. Martin Luther King. The two became close friends and Lewis become an icon in the civil right movement. Today, he is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district and he’s served 17 terms in the House. And he’s still “getting into trouble, good trouble and necessary trouble.” 

Listen: OnBeing with Krista Tippett, Love In Action 
Listen or Watch: Oprah’s Master Class, John Lewis
Listen or Read: NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Congressman, Civil Rights Icon John Lewis 
Read with Kiddos: Scholastic, Interview with Congressman John Lewis
Read: Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of Movement by John Lewis 

Joseph Lowery
For many of us, the first time we heard of Reverend Joseph Lowery was in 2009 when he gave the benediction at the first inauguration of President Barack Obama. What an appropriate choice considering the fact that without our leaders from the Civil Rights Movement of our parents and grandparents day, there would be no FLOTUS Michelle Obama, and thus no book called Becoming, and well—that’s just unthinkable. Without movement all we have are words. This is a point that Reverend Lowry continues to make today. Civil rights without movement is really isn’t all that civil. We can remember and even be inspired. But, civility and justice require small acts of the necessary and the mundane, and even the painful. Those small acts are what lead to great acts of courage, and ultimately change.

Watch: Joseph Lowery: Visionary Project, The Importance of the Civil Rights Movement
Watch: Joseph Lowery: Visionary Project, Moments of Despair
Watch: Joseph Lowery: Visionary Project, Joseph Lowery: Advice to Young African Americans
Read with Kiddos: Teaching Tolerance, Rev. Joseph Lowery—What Makes a Civil Rights Leader?

Cicely Tyson
Emmy-Winning, Oscar- Nominated, luminous and legendary Cicely Tyson has been a working actress since 1957. But here’s the thing I think we need to recognize. Cicely Tyson was discovered when she was working as a fashion model. Who discovered her?  One of the first iconic, black-owned and operated enterprises, Ebony Magazine. I know people wonder why do we have to have our own magazines or our own TV shows or our own movies etc... It’s a really simple reason. It’s because if we don’t show up for ourselves, we will not be seen as we truly are. This is true for all people of color. If we don’t show up for ourselves, we will not be seen as who we truly are, but only as others perceive us to be. 

Watch: Oprah’s Master Class, Cicely Tyson
Watch: Charlie Rose, Cicely Tyson 1994
My Favorite Cicely Tyson Movies:
Roots 1977
Because of Winn Dixie 
Trip to Bountiful 
The Help
Showing Roots 
The Women of Brewster Place 

cream & sugar playlist: volume 1

“The joint is jumpin’/it’s really jumpin’/Come in, cats, and check yo hats/I mean this joint is jumpin’…”
Fats Waller, The Joint is Jumpin’

Click the playlist title above to download volume 1’s playlist—an ode to black jazz musician of the 20’s-40’s

Vincent Harding
I only recently had the pleasure of hearing an @onbeing interview with Vincent Harding. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us. But up until his recent death in 2014, he made himself available to the greater community always reminding us that Dr. King was an “inconvenient hero”, and that his battle has not yet been won. Harding was a professor, historian, activist, and prolific writer who helped pen some of Dr. King’s most memorable speeches. Time spent discovering the work of  Vincent Harding would be time well-invested. And it’s easy to do because his work is everywhere. Start with his letter to President Obama. It’s my favorite because it’s truly a letter to all of us.

Read: Sojourners Magazine, "Our Children Are Waiting for the Music: An Open Letter to President Obama” by Vincent Harding (you will need to subscribe to the magazine to read the article—but trust me, you want to subscribe to this magazine and support all that it’s doing. You can access the articles for as little as $2.95 a month.)
Listen: On Being, Vincent Harding—Is America Possible?
Read: On Being, Essays by Vincent Harding
Books By Vincent Harding:
There’s a River: The Struggle for Black Freedom in America
Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement
Martin Luther King: An Inconvenient Hero

Ruby Sales
“Where does it hurt?” It’s a haunting question when it’s asked by civil rights activist, Ruby Sales. It’s haunting because it requires us to acknowledge and validate the wounds and pain that others carry. Even more so, it’s a haunting question because it calls attention to those who inflicted the act of violence that caused the pain, and demands justice. ⁣

⁣Ruby Sales asks us, “Where does it hurt?” Then, she tells us exactly where she herself has experienced hurt and where she still feels it. ⁣Go listen to her TEDtalk where she tells her own harrowing story of grace (I’m not even sure that grace is the right word—you tell me.)

Watch: TED Talk, Ruby Sales: How Can We Start to Heal the Pain of Racial Division
Listen: OnBeing, Ruby Sales—Where Does It Hurt?
Listen: Freedom Road Podcast: Ruby Nell Sales, Blackness and History

James Meredith
James Meredith was the first black person to enroll at the University of Mississippi. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about James Meredith. There are not a lot of things that he’s said in which I can say I agree. But, I also never organized my own civil rights march without the help of any civil rights leaders. James Martin did this very thing in Mississippi in the 60s and was shot for it. So, how can I not listen to his story? Dr. Martin Luther King and many other, well-known, civil rights leaders listened too. When Meredith was in the hospital healing from his gunshot wound, many of these leaders and black Americans rallied together to finish the march he started.

If Malcom, Martin, Meredith, and a whole host of others waited to agree with each other before taking action, we would all still be waiting for a movement that never could have happened.

Watch: Meet the Press, James Meredith
Read: The King Institute, James Meredith

cream & sugar playlist: volume 2

It's easy to be good, it's hard to be bad/Stay out of trouble, and you be glad/Take this tip from me, and you will see/How happy you will be 
Oh-oh, boys and girls, this is my story/And I add all of my glory/I know, because I'm not a juvenile delinquent…
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, I Am Not a Juvenile Delinquent

Click the playlist title above to download volume 2’s playlist—the birth of rock n roll 50’s-the early 60’s

cream & sugar playlist: motown edition

Calling out around the world/Are you ready for a brand new beat?/Summer’s here/And the time is right/For dancing in the street
Martha and the Vandellas, Dancing in the Streets

Where would the world be without Motown? I shudder to think of that world. This was a really hard playlist to put together. How do to choose? In the end, I went with the soundtrack of my childhood and the records I remember being played in our home.

As I was researching, I came across some amazing articles and interviews as well:

Listen: cream & sugar: motown edition playlist
Listen: Oprah’s Masterclass Podcast, Smokey Robinson
Watch: An Evening at the White House, The Sound of Young America: The History of Motown
Read: NPR, The Strange Sound of Motown’s Early Hollywood Years

Diane Nash
So, Diane Nash’s parents gave her a great childhood in Chicago. They sheltered her in private schools and sent her to a HBCU where she would be treated fairly and seen for who she was. But, Diane had her own ideas—as bright children usually do—and, she transferred all that comfort and security to go to a school in Jim Crow South. For the first time, she faced colored and white signs policing her wherever she went.  She didn’t like it, and instead of going back home, she sat down at a lunch counter and boarded a freedom bus. 

Watch: History Channel—Diane Nash & Bree Newsome in Conversation
Read: The Makers—Diane Nash
Read: Time Magazine—Selma Movie Review
Watch: Ava DuVernay’s Movie Biopic—Selma

Ruby Bridges
You may think you know the whole story. But more than likely, you do not. Ruby Bridges carries her story around to schools throughout the
country because she knows that children are not being taught the full story. Today, sit with this story. There’s much to unpack and consider, lament and pray over.

Watch: William Adkins Civil Rights Project: Ruby Bridges
Read: NPR, Wisdom from a Trailblazer—Ruby Bridges Talks Racism in Education
Watch & Read: Lucille Bridges, Ruby’s Mother, Recalls Integrating New Orleans Schools
Read: HuffPost, Civil Rights Pioneer Ruby Bridges on the Powerful Lessons She Learned from Her First-Grade Teacher, Barbara Henry
Read with Kiddos: Scholastic, In Her Own Words—Barbara Henry’s Experience
Read: Boston Globe, Teaching Ruby Bridges
Read: National Civil Rights Museum, Ruby Bridges Reading Festival

cream & sugar playlist: soul train edition

Soul train/Soul train/
Soul train/Soul train/

“The hippest trip in America. Sixty non-stop minutes across the tracks of your mind into the exciting world of soul!”

People all over the world/
People all over the world

Soul Train Theme Opener, T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia) and Host, Don Cornelius
Click the playlist title above to download the playlist—visit my childhood with me!!!

John M. Perkins
In 1970, Civil Rights Activist, Rev. Perkins, along with 2 others black pastors, arrived at Brandon Jail to post bail for young black students who’d been profiled & arrested in Plain, Mississippi. That night, the sheriff and his deputies, brutally beat Perkins and the two other pastors, and nearly left them for dead. At 89 years old, he is still actively fighting for love and justice in his bible teaching, writing, community development and speaking.

Watch: Redemption—The John M. Perkins Story
Read: The Gospel Coalition, The Final Call of John Perkins
Read: Jackson Free Press, The Revolution of John Perkins
Watch: Switchfoot, The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues)
Read: Books by John M. Perkins

Nikki Giovanni
My dream was not to publish or to even be a writer: my dream was to discover something that no one else had thought of. I guess that’s why I’m a poet. We put things together in ways no one else does.” (Giovanni)

Watch: PBS, Soul—James Baldwin & Nikki Giovanni, A Conversation
Listen/Read: On Being—Nikki Giovanni on Soul Food, Sex, and Space
Watch: The Black Woman (1970)—featuring Nikki Giovanni and Lena Horne
Watch: Nikki Giovanni Reading “Adulthood”
Watch: TEDx—Nikki Giovanni, Why Not the Right Thing the First Time
Read: Books by Nikki Giovanni

Leontyne Price
Before the jaw-dropping women of Black Panther, and the indisputable Oscar-winner, Queen Regina King, there was first black Prima Donna & Diva at the Met: Leontyne Price. At 92 years old, there’s no role grand enough to fully embody her gifts. This is why she once received one of the longest standing ovations, lasting over 35 minutes. We are still applauding. 

Watch: John Calloway Interviews Leontyne Price  
Watch: NYTimes, CUNY interview with Leontyne Price
Watch: Essence Interview with Leontyne Price
Read: Knight Foundation, The Black Operatic Soprano—Past and Present
Read: NPR, At 90—The Voice We Still Love to Talk About
Read: Scapi Magazine, Racism in 20th Century Opera Houses—A Retrospective
Listen: Spotify—Leontyne Price

Claudette Colvin
It’s a strange and complicated story. But all stories about race in this country are. Nothing makes sense because the invention of race is our creation alone—outside of God’s intention and therefore, outside of reason. However, it’s a story that we must be willing to tell: There was girl name Claudette. She was 15 with dark brown skin, short and coarse hair, big glasses, and a voice that kinda squeaked. She wasn’t eloquent. She hadn’t done much in the world, or seen much of it. She was just another black girl living in Jim Crows days in the South, drinking from colored water fountains. One day, in her segregated, coloreds-only school, her teacher told her about Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. Suddenly, Claudette was a black girl with a vision of herself that the world would not allow her to obtain.

Watch: Claudette Colvin—The Original Rosa Parks
Read: NPR, Before Rosa Parks, There Was Claudette Colvin
Read with Kiddos: She Persisted—13 Women Who Changed the World
Read: Washington Post—Rosa Parks Is the Name You Know. Claudette Colvin Is the Name You Probably Should

cream & sugar playlist: gospel edition
Just like a ship
Without a sail
But I'm not worried
because I know
But I know we can make it
I know we can shake it
But I know we can make it
I know we can take it

I sail for pleasure
But I found pain
I look for sunshine
yes I did 
But I found rain

And then I look for my friends
But they walked away
Through all the sorrows
You can hear me say
But I know we can make it
I know we can shake it
But I know we can make it
I know we can take it
Sure gonna make it
I know we can shake it

'Cause we are proud people
Just like a ship without a sail

Like a Ship…without a Sail by Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir
Click the link above for the playlist

Marcie Walker