February 11, 2016

OURstory: Nelson Mandela Released From Prison (Feb 11, 1990)

On this date in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. He was (then) a South African political activist and member of the African National Congress.

Still active, he had been in Robben Island prison in South Africa for 27 years.

What are your thoughts on Nelson Mandela?
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February 9, 2016

Happy Birthday: Alice Walker, 2/9/1944

It always bothered me that the 'Color Purple' never received proper recognition during the Oscar ceremonies in the early 1990s. The director and actors in that flick were outstanding. Who cannot still remember when Oprah Winfrey got medieval on her husband and her father-in-law?

The movie never exists if the book wasn't written first. Alice Walker was born on this date in 1944. She is an African American author, speaker, and poet. [SOURCE]

Born Alice Malsenior Walker in Eatonton, Georgia, she was educated at Spelman and Sarah Lawrence colleges. Walker is responsible for a number of writings.

Most of her material portrays the lives of poor, oppressed African American women in the early 1900s. The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970) is about the emotional growth of an African American man. Meridian (1976) follows the life of an African American woman during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Walker won the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for her best-known work, the novel The Color Purple (1982).

Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992), explores the tradition of female circumcision still practiced in some parts of Africa. By the Light of My Father’s Smile (1998), depicts a Christian missionary family, focusing on the relationship between the father and the three daughters and the relationship between Christianity and the spiritual traditions of the African community in which the family lives. Walker’s volumes of poetry include Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973) and Goodnight, Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning (1979).

Her nonfiction works include the essay collections In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983), Living by the Word (1988), The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult (1996) and Anything We Love Can Be Saved (1997). In 2004, Walker published her first book in six years, "Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart."

Do you have a favorite book by Alice Walker? Is there a part of Color Purple that you always remember when you think of that movie (or book)? My favorite thing about Alice Walker in recent years was her timely endorsement of Barack Obama!
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February 1, 2016

Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Award Winner: Laura Stanton (2016)

Dr. Jones Crockett
My maternal grandmother, Ethelene Jones Crockett, was born in 1914 in St. Joseph, Michigan and grew up in Jackson, Michigan. She attended Jackson Community College and graduated from University of Michigan. She married George Crockett, Jr. who was an accomplished lawyer, judge and congressman in his own right, and they had three children (including my Mom!) before she decided to attend medical school at Howard University in 1942.

Grandmother Crockett served her medical internship at Detroit Receiving Hospital but completed her residency in a New York City hospital because no Detroit hospital would accept an African American woman. She became the first Black female Ob/Gyn in the state of Michigan in 1952. She retired from active practice in 1972. In 1978 she became the first woman president of the American Lung Association. Unfortunately, she died later that same year.

Laura Stanton
My grandmother was larger than life. I loved her very much. I'm sure that she would be pleased to know that Laura Stanton, an alumna noted for her dedication to education and adoption, is Jackson College's 2016 Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Award recipient. The Crockett award is given annually by Jackson College to honor distinguished alumni who have displayed a positive and personal involvement in the betterment of humankind and has ongoing contact with Jackson College. Stanton attended what then was Jackson Community College in the early 1970s, finishing her education at Eastern Michigan University, where she obtained a teaching degree.  [SOURCE]

Stanton spent 20 years as a Jackson Public Schools teacher and was a reading and instructional specialist before retiring in 1997. In 1999, she and her husband David established the Stanton Foundation, which is dedicated to education and adoption. Stanton helped coordinate the annual Wendy's Charity Classic golf tournament, which in 15 years has raised more than $2.5 million for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Wendy's Wonderful Kids programs.

Congratulations to Ms. Stanton ... she's officially part of our 'village' now!

Happy Birthday: Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, MO on this date in 1902. He began writing poetry while attending Central High School in Cleveland, OH. He was educated at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Click here to view most of the literary works of Langston Hughes!

He was an influential figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's. Hughes spent time in Paris and after returning to the United States, he worked as a busboy in Washington, D.C. It was there in 1925, that his literary skills were discovered after he left three of his poems beside the plate of American poet Vachel Lindsay, who recognized Hughes's abilities and helped publicize his work.

Langston Hughes was active in social and political causes, using his poetry as a vehicle for cultural protest. He traveled to the Soviet Union, Haiti, and Japan, and he served as the Madrid correspondent for a Baltimore newspaper during the Spanish Civil War. Hughes wrote over 50 books and his drama Mulatto was performed 373 times on Broadway. Hughes also became known for the character Jesse B. Simple that he created in the 1940's for the Chicago Defender & New York Post. The humor and dialect of Jesse Simple disguised his common sense while depicting the everyday American experiences of Black citizens.

Langston Hughes died in 1967.

Let America be America Again
Originally published in Esquire and in the International Worker Order pamphlet A New Song (1938)

Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-- Let it be that great strong land of love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-- And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil. I am the worker sold to the machine. I am the Negro, servant to you all. I am the people, humble, hungry, mean-- Hungry yet today despite the dream. Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers! I am the man who never got ahead, The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream In the Old World while still a serf of kings, Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, That even yet its mighty daring sings In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned That's made America the land it has become. O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas In search of what I meant to be my home-- For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore, And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa's strand I came To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me? Surely not me? The millions on relief today? The millions shot down when we strike? The millions who have nothing for our pay? For all the dreams we've dreamed And all the songs we've sung And all the hopes we've held And all the flags we've hung, The millions who have nothing for our pay-- Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again-- The land that never has been yet-- And yet must be--the land where every man is free. The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME-- Who made America, Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-- The steel of freedom does not stain. From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America!

O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath-- America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain-- All, all the stretch of these great green states-- And make America again!

Do you have any thoughts about Langston Hughes? What is your favorite literary work by Bro. Hughes?