Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Black History Month Journey of Celebrating Women in the Arts: Ruby Dee

  • Dee is a member of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts shares this of Ruby and her iconic husband, Ossie Davis: They are one of the most revered couples of the American stage, two of the most prolific and fearless artists in American culture. As individuals and as a team they have created profound and lasting work that has touched us all. With courage and tenacity they have thrown open many a door previously shut tight to African American artists and planted the seed for the flowering of America's multicultural humanity.
  • Favorite Ruby quote – “God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do the very thing I fear.”

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Black History Month Journey of Celebrating Women in the Arts: Lena Horne

  • Horne was long involved with the Civil Rights movement. In 1941, she sang at Cafe Society and worked with Paul Robeson. During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform "for segregated audiences or for groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen",according to her Kennedy Center biography.
  • "What people tend not to fully comprehend today is what Lena Horne did to transform the image of the African American woman in Hollywood," said Donald Bogle, a film historian.
  • A favorite Lena quote - It`s not the load that breaks you down, it`s the way you carry it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Black History Month Journey of Celebrating Women in the Arts: Eartha Kitt

  • What can I learn from Ms. Kitt?  When you're forced to leave (a job, city, country) - BRING IT ON!!! When First Lady Claudia Johnson was offended by Ms. Kitt's perspective (Kitt remarked, “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.”) - she was blacklisted from performing in the U.S!!!  So she made a name for herself in Europe and Asia.  That's how big girls do it!
  • What would I ask her? Given your clear reputation as a sex kitten (which you carried with class!), what is your perspective on how black women are portrayed in today's hip-hop culture (videos, lyrics, and overall image)?
  • What's my favorite Kitt quote?
I`ve always said to my men friends, If you really care for me, darling, you will give me territory.
Give me land, give me land!!!

My Black History Month Journey of Celebrating Women in the Arts: Anika Noni Rose

  • You may know her as Yasmine from her fierce role in For Colored Girls, or you could even remember hearing her lovely voice in Disney's first animated movie featuring an African American princess (remember Tiana?!?), you might also remember her role as Lorrell Robinson in Dreamgirls
  • What would I ask her?  How can we, as moviegoers and Broadway supporters, strengthen the demand for leading roles for black actresses?
  • One of the clearest memories from For Colored Girls is Yasmine's monologut in the hospital scene.  Take a look at an interview done by
That hospital monologue is where you see the change, with the camera that just pushes in on you. Were you more prepared for that because of your theater background, and how did you prepare it?

I prepared it the same way I prepare theater, absolutely. I think the words are so poignant and so strong, I wanted them to be heard. I wanted them to be heard for every single woman who has gone through something when they're had their spirit stripped from them. So that was my focus point, deep within those words, to find out where she's coming from, and to make sure that I understood it as strongly as I could.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Black History Month Journey of Celebrating Women in the Arts: Day 8 - Alma Woodsey Thomas

  • What can I learn from her?  Never say never.  Ms. Thomas really embraced her career as a painter at age 68, after a long career as a teacher. 
  • What do I admire most about her? I appreciate that she always pursued art:   promoting arts in the community - particularly with youth, engaging in networks of artists, and always training so that her own skills could be honed and sharpened. 
  • What would I ask her?  There aren't many women artists that are noted in the Harlem Renaissance.  Who would you say was at the forefront of the visual arts at that time?

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Black History Month Journey of Celebrating Women in the Arts: Day 7 - Toni Morrison

  • Toni Morrison is a literary giant of the 1980s and 1990.   Her book Beloved won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize; in 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her other major works include Song of Solomon (1977), Jazz (1992) and Paradise (1998). Morrison was named the Goheen Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University in 1987.
  • In 1968 Toni Morrison moved to New York City, where she became a senior editor at Random House. Authors who were published as a result of her work include Angela Davis, Henry Dumas, Toni Cade Bambara, Muhammad Ali, and Gayl Jones.
  • As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.  - Toni Morrison

Go grab something sweet and warm, and have coffee with Toni here

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