. . . In a House Built by Slaves . . .

August 20, 2016

Invisible 5

Michelle Obama shook the world’s foundation during her speech at the Democratic National Convention on Monday, July 25, 2016 when she said, “That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.”

Social media lit up in disbelief and horror that what she said could be true.

T’is true, boys and girls.

Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith Jr. and illustrated by Floyd Cooper

I read this book for younger readers the week after Michelle Obama’s speech.  Beautiful, lyrical poetry and illustrations.  Names of slaves who worked hard to make the clay to build the bricks.  In the author’s note, the author teaches that Washington, D.C. was then a forest so the slaves were also tasked with clearing the land to erect the house.

The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House by Jesse J. Holland

Reading this was eye opening about the presidents who owned slaves.  Typically the focus is on Thomas Jefferson, but Holland’s work exposed me to George Washington, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson as well.  Very illuminating.

Holland also wrote Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African-American History In and Around Washington, D.C. by Jesse J. Holland which is on my list to read.

I also plan to read Clarence Lusane’s The Black History of the White House, Elizabeth Keckley’s Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, and Elizabeth Dowling Taylor’s A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons.

Paul Jennings wrote his own memoir titled A Colored Man’s Reminiscences of James Madison that is available online via UNC Chapel Hill’s Documenting the American South project.


Additional reading

Danielle Young’s article from the Root.com “6 Historic Structures in American That Were Built by Slaves

Smithsonian magazine article “The Slaves of the White House Finally Get to Have Their Story Told




It’s a Reading and Writing Affair

December 9, 2008

Established in 2000, RAWSistaz (Reading and Writing Sistaz) Literary Group is committed to the support and promotion of books by, for and about African-Americans. Every year, RAWSistaz presents an annual gathering for the members of their online group in various cities.  In addition to being a reunion for the group’s members, The RAWSistaz Affair spotlights authors and focuses on various topics as it relates to literature and increasing the appreciation of the written word.  This year, the RAW Affair will be held online.  As a matter of fact, it is taking place this week beginning December 8 – 13, 2008.

Although primarily a promoter of adult literature of all genres, RAWSistaz is a Brown Bookshelf partner. They’ve wholeheartedly supported our mission to increase exposure of children’s books written and illustrated by African Americans to parents, librarians, teachers and other gatekeepers in a young reader’s life.  On Wednesday, December 10, 2008, visit the RAW event to talk to the members of The Brown Bookshelf as we discuss the best ways to get young readers excited about books, overcoming the required reading slump, and supporting literary balance as the influx of YA street literature increases.  Join Paula, Varian, Don, Kelly, and Carla throughout the day on December 10th in a great discussion about children’s literature.  To visit our panel, or any other, click on the panel topic and submit a comment or question.

ABC Family, We Need to Have a Talk

November 11, 2008

Dear ABC Family,

I have love for you as you aid in my television entertainment throughout the week and on the weekends, but in 2006 you captured my heart when you introduced me to the Sutton family living in Lincoln Heights.  From the start, I connected with this family who really are committed to each other and their community.  That first season as they faced trials and tribulations of a good neighborhood gone bad, I often pondered why not just leave.  There were many episodes where I telepathically implored the matriarch Jen Sutton to just pack up her things along with Cassie, Lizzie, and Tay’s things and leave Eddie to his quest to save Lincoln Heights.

But I was wrong to do that.

While the Sutton family hasn’t changed everyone, they are good for Lincoln Heights and Lincoln Heights are good for them.

So here we are in the third season and I can’t help but feel the need to sit myself down and let you, the powers that be at ABC Family, know how I feel about this season.

First of all, I noticed how short this season is.  Tonight is the season finale?!!?  Seriously?!?!?!  ABC Family, this is the 10th episode.  That is not a season, if this was on ABC, CBS, or NBC, this would be just the first half of the season.  The first season according to IMDB was 13 episodes.  Last season and this season only have 10 episodes.  We must fix that for the fourth season.  I want nothing less than 15 episodes.

Maybe President Elect Barack Obama can help me resolve this matter with you.  Hmmm.

That’s just a joke, good people.  I wouldn’t involve President Elect Barack Obama just yet.

Now the third season started off with a bang, you know Cassie and Charles being held hostage in their own house and discovering a secret attic after living there for about two years.  Or is it just one year?  I really can’t tell.  For all I know this is all happening in a matter of 6 months.  Well, I guess we can say for sure at least one year has passed since Sage was in a coma for forever.

And FYI, you could have just killed her.  No loss THERE.

So yes, the third season started with a bang, great tension, and such.  Loved it.

Then you introduce a new family, the Kingstons, who I can tell right away aren’t on the up and up.  Something in the water just wasn’t clean with them.  I wish Rev. Hammond’s wife had did a more thorough check on their background.  Rev. Kingston is nothing like Rev. Hammond.  Nothing, especially after last week’s episode.  The only character in the Kingston family that I like is the daughter who goes to school with Charles and Cassie.

And then in episode 6, they killed him.  Should have killed Devin Kingston instead, but noooooo, they killed Johnny, the mockingbird of Lincoln Heights.

I almost caught a spasm when I saw that Juanita Bynum was the guest star, but since she was without that dreadful light pink lipstick, I will keep pressing my way.

And I loved the Glass’ back story and what happened to them living in what is now the Sutton’s house.  That was a really powerful scene with the woman who used to live there who showed up and had a flashback to a deadly night.

So to recap, I love Lincoln Heights.  It is on my Must See TV list and I am thankful that ABC Family puts out such a great show, but I believe that the seasons can be and should be longer.  10 episodes is robbery to us, the fans, of this show.

I trust you have heard my grievances.  Also if there is a way to bring back Johnny Nightingale, I hope you will work on that for season 4.

I will tune in today to catch the 9 episode marathon starting at 12:00PM today.

Best regards,



I’m A Writer With No Words

November 5, 2008

For months now, I have not been able to write a blog post or a page for my next book.  I know part of it is a mental block, another part is me not tapping into my own creative energy, and another bigger part is laziness.

Today, I can speak.  Today, I am compelled to write.  Today, I have reason to celebrate.  Yesterday, on my TV screen, I saw so much beauty.  I saw love.  I saw hope.  Change being birthed.  Family.  Yesterday showcased the preamble to what months of campaigning will finally translate into for Americans.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

I have hope.  I have love for my fellow Americans.  I am embracing the potential that lies within me and everyone who walks the earth.

People said he couldn’t do it.  Many told him he shouldn’t do it, that he’s not ready to lead a nation.  But I believe that Obama was born, cultivated, educated for “such a time as this.”  He’s the one to lead us past this season in American history.  He will be the one to usher in this new season of hope, promise, and dreams deferred.


I won’t put all of my hope and trust in Obama.  After all he is only human.  My hope is still resting in God’s will.  I pray that Obama listens to God today and everyday.  I pray that he picks a staff that will have Americans’ best interests at heart and will truly take care of America first.  I pray that Obama and his family are protected from hurt, harm, and danger.

For the first time, I am compelled to pray for a government official and his family.  Last night, I watched Obama and his daughter hold hands and I got misty at that sight of father/daughter love, of Black love, of the weight that is on his shoulders for him as a husband, a father, a brother, a man, a Black man, and now, the 44th President of the United States of America.


I charge us all to be committed to America’s future, to not expect President Obama to save us in a matter of days, or to do everything we wish he would do.  Pray that he makes the right decisions.  Let your voices be heard by writing your elected officials, as in your mayor, governor, Congressmen, and Senators.  Be proactive.  Be a part of the change.

God bless Barack Hussein Obama II, Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Malia Obama, and the United States of America.


Such a Pretty Random Blog

June 22, 2008

Eh, I missed blogging so here is just a random one as I wait for Bridezillas to come on, then Design Star, and finally Army Wives.

The title of today’s blog is due in part to Jen Lancaster’s newest memoir Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer which I finished reading today.  Thanks to my cyber pal Gridiron Goddess who introduced me to Jen’s first memoir, the popular, snarky, and laugh out loud Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office.  In between Bitter and Such a Pretty Fat is the snarkalicious Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl’s Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, or Who are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me?


Reading Jen’s memoirs, you will often laugh out loud as I did Friday while reading Bright Lights, Big Ass at work, you will agree with her thoughts on life and weight loss attempts via Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, or you will be reading about her neighbors, only to drive home and see a teenager riding his bike by sitting on his handlebars and doggedly refusing to get out of your way after working a 12 hour day.  Whooo saaaaaaaaaah.

So today’s blog will be a poem of sorts, umm not really but it will be about the word Sunday since it is written on a Sunday.


is for siblings as I sit here waiting for my sole sibling to place his weekly call unto me.  I missed last week’s call so I am eager to talk to him but I hope he calls before 9:00.  I would love to hear how his comedy show went last week at the Juneteenth Festival.  He’s an up and coming Christian comic.  And he’s bonafied thanks to YouTube.


is for the umpteen hours of TV I will watch, books I will read, and naps I will take on a Sunday.   And for the umpteenth time I want to know, why didn’t they just use a set of real twins when making The Parent Trap?  And then to do that same concept twice?  Okay, I get that the budget might have been smaller when the original was first made, but the most recent version surely had a bigger budget and the Olsen twins at their beck and call.  Yesterday they showed the original on Hallmark and now the Lindsay Lohan version is on ABC Family.


is for the neighbors who are seriously make me contemplate moving this year after living here for 6 years.  All of them leave trash outside their doors, but the ones next door left one newspaper outside the only door we have, the door they walk past at least 6 times a day per person, especially that youngest daughter who loves to slam the bleeping door.  The newest neighbors on my floor put the bumper sticker that belongs on their car that proclaims their child is a good student at No Child Left Behind Elementary School on their door.  They’ve had a plant outside their door for almost two months.  It’s dead.  It’s really just a pot with dirt that they keep putting water in. They also eat at McDonald’s a lot and leave that bag outside their door as well.  They seem to have a strong dislike for real trash bags and seem able to only have trash in Wal Mart bags that they leave outside for days on end.  The ones next door to them drink a lot and leave that trash outside.  I don’t even speak to none of these people.  Well I did to the dad of the No Child Left Behind Elementary School Achiever one day when he decided to hammer the bottle tops from countless bottles of Heineken purportedly for NCLBESA’s homework assisgnment outside my door.


is for quotes about dreams.  This week, someone cheered me up and reminded me of my focus in life by sharing with me two quotes about dreams.   “Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you.” ~ Marsha Norman

“To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.” ~ Bernard Edmonds


is for the amazing wonder that is Aldi.  For no real reason, I never shopped there until sometime in May.  I was such a novice that I didn’t even know about the shopping carts for a quarter thing.  Today I went just to get some water so no need for a bag, just the $.25 cart, but they had some dried fruit on sale so I grabbed several packs, paid 10 cents for a bag and then I might have did the next part wrong.  My cart was in the way as I tried to bag and pay at the same time.  So feeling slightly embarrassed, I left the store.   I just need them to have 2 sets of car by both doors so I don’t have to walk around the corner to return the cart and get my $.25 back.  Otherwise, Aldi rocks!  Bread for $1.19/loaf?


is for me saying, “You heffas are crazy/trippping/bleeping nuts” as I watch Bridezillas.  I watched like 3 episodes last season and am currently on the third episode of the new season and I seriously shake my head at these brides with their “This is MY day/It’s all about the bride” mentality and have the nerve to want to be Big Willys when they’re broke.  I would love to do a longitudinal study (psych degree put to use) and see how many of the married couples from the past 2 seasons and the present season lasts beyond 1, 3, 5, and 10 years.  50 years from now if any of them are still married to each other, I say they receive a Nobel Peace Prize.