Women’s History Month 2014: Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon


Social Justice For All

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to one of my personal heroes, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon.  In 1973, Reagon founded the  a cappella group  Sweet Honey in the Rock.  Johnson Reagon started her music/social work career before  Sweet Honey in the Rock .  She was a type of community organizer and performed with  The Freedom Singers in her hometown of Albany, Georgia.  The Freedom Singers was, in part, formed by Johnson Reagon’s husband, Cordell Reagon. How amazing and lovely that Cordell and Bernice were friends with Pete Seeger , who helped to support the founding of  The Freedom Singers.

I was first introduced to Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1991 at the Black Arts Festival at Piedmont Park, in Atlanta, Georgia. After hearing them perform Ella’s SongI went out and bought all of their albums and went to every concert when they came to Atlanta. Reagon…

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Unredeemable?


Source of Inspiration

souls-light-ellen-miller

Are there people
who are unredeemable?
Ones who choose to remain
in Darkness so profound
that it destroys their
very soul? Some say “yes”
others say “no.”

I find the idea of a soulless
existence unfathomable, surely
not a life I would choose, but
clearly there are those who
never give this possibility
a thought and continue on in
their uncaring ways.

Beware, everyone. Truly what
you sow do you reap, an
unchangeable law for all.

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Whole


Peace, Love and Patchouli

I have learned from the burned man
Words and images
As Story woven like a tapestry
So painfully beautiful
Tender yet strong
Of life
Of love
Of war
Of death
And how fleeting it all is
Changing in a
The click of a second
Half a man
Still whole
With love
Undying
He returns to live
Where the heart lays
Broken pieces
Now whole
Drifting away.
Unfamiliar
I sat and watched
Touched
He was a writer too
Striking a chord
Of the importance
Of capturing in words
What the heart speaks
For someone
For no one
For keeps.
Writing
Ah sweet words,
Keep me whole
Soul speak
Written.

Thoughts on The English Patient

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Hippopotamus Attacks Crocodile and Saves Gnu


Video of rhino saving Gnu

Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

My thanks to the wonderful Cindy Knoke for telling me about this rescue. It is truly astonishing!

The gnu, in the jaws of a crocodile, is struggling to cross the river. Death seems almost certain until a bloat of huge (usually aggressive) hippopotami circle the duo and take action. One hippo, whose maternal instinct must have taken over (assuming it’s female), lunges, mouth agape, for the crocodile. It chases it away and escorts the injured gnu safely to the opposite bank.

Amazingly, the hippo then waits by the bank, guarding the gnu against further attacks, and actually tries pushing it up the bank out of the water. 

The incredible event took place on the Maasai Mara game reserve in Kenya. It took place three years ago, but has only just gone viral, giving everyone a chance to see it.

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Woman


March is Women's History Month

March is Women’s History Month

In the past thirty years a flood of women’s diaries and journals have been discovered and published. Attics, basements and libraries have provided perfect veils for the words and thoughts of women. No one expected that others would be interesting in their thoughts or lives. So many lived blindingly boring lives trying to be what she was supposed to be. Feminist scholars have found many of these writings and later generations recognized the gift their grandmothers left for the world. Several anthologies of these finds have been compiled and published in honor of these women who were invisible and silent except for their pens.

It is hard to describe the variety of women’s diaries, journals, and letters; they resist categorization and comparison.  They now are called discontinuous prose, or writing that is done. Often letters are included in women’s writings. Diaries are often categorized by their duration; some are lifelong, starting in childhood; others stop and resume. Because of their traditional roles, even women of education and talent have been almost as silent as those men and women who were denied literacy by race and economic situations.

Lady bugs and rain drops

Lady bugs and rain drops

What we receive by reading women’s writings is their self-image. In diaries and journals, the masks come down somewhat. Some times they come completely down revealing the heart and soul of the woman writer. Sometimes, they talk about everyday happenings, sometimes they write about moral conundrums they encounter; times where husbands or fathers make them do or say something they feel is immoral. Some feared losing their souls for the family.

The following is excerpted from Marie Noel:

My name, my place among men: Surplus.

“Surplus in the flock.”

Surplus in the household.

Surplus in friendship.

Never, “first in some heart,” never essential never alone needful for some being, some soul, some life…

whatever betide…on earth or in heaven…

Surplus.

Nearly all the people of my age and class—especially those who write—have traveled, seen the world, visited cities, met people, attended theaters, gone to museums, heard the wonderful music of which I am always dreaming: Salzburg…Mozart…Figaro…The Magic Flute…and Pelleas!

But I, as long as I was young, spent Sunday after Sunday at the Church Club, and now that I am older, every Sunday for many years I have gone and gone with mamma to visit my aunt.

In seclusion in a good, faithful country home, tied down by duties, closely watched by old people, cut off from the universe and even from nearly places…

I have had only God for space.

In Him I have secured my liberty, my highways, I have dared my mountains and my precipices, I have risked like others, more than any other, my adventures and my perils…

When I was fifteen, I often prayed at night, I kneeled down, and God sometimes spoke to me.

One night when I had found Him prepared to grant me anything; I asked Him for three things all at once:

To suffer greatly,

To be a poet,

To be a saint.

 

Feminists are everywhere.

Feminists are everywhere.

With No Immediate Cause

Ntozake Shange is a black woman who changed her birth name to express her anger at the dilemma of being a black woman. In Zulu the name means, “she who walks like a lion.” She has written many stories and poems. Her words have an edge, and build an image of a sexual object.

every 3 minutes a women is beaten

every 5 minutes a

woman is raped/every ten minutes

a lil girl is molested

yet i rode the subway today

i sat next to an old man who

may have beaten his old wife

3 minutes ago or 3 days/30 years ago

he might have sodomized his

daughter but i sat there

cuz the young men on the train

might beat some young woman

later in the day or tomorrow

i might not shut my door fast

enuf/push hard enuf

every 3  minutes it happens

some woman’s innocence

rushes to her cheeks/ pours from her mouth

like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn

apart/ their mouths

menses red and split/ every

3 minutes a shoulder

is jammed through plaster and the oven door/

chairs push thru plaster the rib cage/ hot water or

boiling sperm decorate her body

i rode the subway today

and bought a paper from a man who might

have held his old lady onto

a hot pressing iron/ i don’t know

maybe he catches lil girls in the

park and rips open their behinds

with steel rods/ i can’t decide

what he might have done i only

know every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes/ so

k bought the paper

looking for the announcement

the discovery/of the dismembered

woman’s body/ the

victims have not all been

identified/ today they are

naked and dead/ refuse to

testify/ one girl out of 10’s not

choherent/ i took the coffee

and spit it up/ i found an

announcement/ not the wman’s

bloated body in the river/ floating

not the child bleeding in the 59th

street corridor/ not the baby

broken on the floor/

“there is some concern

that alleged battered women

might start to murder their

husbands and lovers with no

immediate cause”

i spit up i vomit i am screaming

we all have immediate cause

every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes

every 10 minutes

every day

women’s bodies are found

in alleys and bedrooms/ at the top of the stairs

before i rid the subway/ buy a paper/drink

coffee/i must know/

have you hurt a woman today

did you beat a moman today

throw a child across a room

are the lil girl’s panties

in your pocket

did you hurt a woman today

I have to ask these obscene questions

the authorities require me to

establish

immediate cause

every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes

every 10 minutes

every day.

Do you end up in the Emergency Room often?

Do you end up in the Emergency Room often?