Divine Literary Tour Announcement

Happy Black History Month!

You all have been phenonmenal in your support of Freshman Focus.  Many of you have purchased a copy, read it, told me how much you like the book, and told others to buy it as well.  For that, I say thank you!  A thousand thank yous for your support!

On February 2, 2007, I was fortunate to speak at my alma mater, Warrensville Heights High School.  It was great to see so many of my former teachers and thank them for their years of service as well as speak to the present students and encourage them to work hard in school.  On February 3, 2007, I participated in  the Black Family Literacy Day at the Warrensville Heights Public Library which is the library that I visited many times as a child and one day soon my own book could be on the library’s shelves.  Thanks to all who braved the freezing cold temperatures and came out to hear me speak and purchase a copy of the book!

In preparation for my appearances at the high school, I created a list of recommended reading for teenagers.  It is not meant to be a definitive list and I will add to it every so often, but I thought it would be helpful for our young adults and those who enjoy young adult fiction to have as a guide when they go to the library and/or bookstores.  If you are interested in the list, e-mail me and I will send you the list as a Microsoft Word attachment.

I have some fabulous news to share with you all and then it is back to writing the second book of the series.

As many of you know, I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  I was initiated on April 5, 1997 and joined the ranks of phenomenal women like Shirley Chisholm, Dr. Dorothy I. Height, Lena Horne, Nikki Giovanni, Patricia Roberts Harris, Frankie Freeman, and the list goes on and on.

In December 2006, I saw an e-mail mentioning The Divine Literary Tour which is a tour for authors who are members of the Divine 9.  The Divine 9 is the nickname for the NPHC fraternities and sororities:  Alpha Phi Alpha (1906), Alpha Kappa Alpha (1908), Kappa Alpha Psi (1911), Omega Psi Phi (1911), Delta Sigma Theta (1913), Phi Beta Sigma (1914), Zeta Phi Beta (1920), Sigma Gamma Rho (1922), and Iota Phi Theta (1963).

I applied in December and was accepted to be a part of The Divine Literary Tour.   As authors, we travel the country promoting our books and doing community service together in the cities that we visit.  We’ll be on college campuses, at middle and high schools, fraternity and sorority conferences and conventions, and a host of other places.

So look for me in your city one day soon!  I’ll post the tour engagements that I will be at, but I encourage you to support the Divine Literary Tour as much as you can.  Visit the site and meet the other authors who will be on tour.  Each of us has a website that you can explore and learn more about our endeavors.

Expressions of Blackness

As a reminder, on Saturday, February 17, 2007, I will be speaking at the East 131st St. branch library in Cleveland, Ohio at 2:00PM. 

Today’s Black Facts

For those of you who have read the book, you know that each chapter starts with the Black History facts for the respective day.  Everyday I receive the Black History facts for the respective day as well. 

Today in Black History – February 10
1868 – Republican conservatives draft new constitution which concentrates political power in the hands of the governor and limits the impact of the Black vote.  This is made possible by Conservatives, aided by military forces, who seize the convention hall and establish control over the reconstruction process in Florida.

1927 – Mary Leontyne Violet Price (a member of Delta Sigma Theta), who will be acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest operatic talents, is born in Laurel, Mississippi.  She will amass many operatic firsts, being the first African American to sing opera on network television and the first African American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Among her honors will be the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, three Emmys, and Kennedy Center Honors.

1939 – Roberta Flack (a member of Delta Sigma Theta) is born in Black Mountain (Asheville), North Carolina. She will begin her professional singing career in Washington, DC. She will go on to win Grammys for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” “Where Is the Love,” and  “Killing Me Softly with His Song.”

1942 – Mary Lovelace O’Neal is born in Jackson, Mississippi.  Educated at Howard and Columbia universities, she will become a professor of fine arts and a painter who will exhibit her work in museums in the United States, Morocco, and Chile.

1943 – Eta Phi Beta, the national business and professional sorority, is incorporated in Detroit, Michigan.  It will have chapters throughout the United States and number among its members civil rights activist Daisy Bates and artist Margaret T. Burroughs.

1945 – The United States, Russia, Great Britain, and France approve a peace treaty with Italy, under which Italy renounces all rights and claims to Ethiopia and Eritrea.

1945 – The Chicago Defender reports that over a quarter of a million African Americans migrated to California during the years 1942 and 1943.  As the percentage of African Americans in California increases from 1 1/2% to more than 10% of the total population, so does the practice of racial segregation.

1971 – Bill White becomes the first African American major league baseball announcer when he begins announcing for the New York Yankees.

1989 – Ronald H. Brown, who had served as Jesse Jackson’s campaign manager, becomes chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the first African American to hold the position in either party.

1990 – South African President, Frederik Willem de Klerk announces that Nelson Mandela will be set free on February 11th after 27 years in prison.

1992 – Alex Haley, author of “Roots,” and “Autobiography of Malcolm X,” joins the ancestors while on a lecture tour in Seattle, Washington at the age of 70.
1992 – Mike Tyson is convicted in Indianapolis, Indiana of raping a contestant in the Miss Black America competition and sentenced to six years in an Indiana prison.

1998 – Dr. David Satcher (a member of Omega Psi Phi) is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become Surgeon General.

Today in Black History – February 11  
1783 – The first woman to preach in an AME church, at Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, Jarena Lee, is born in Cape May, New Jersey.  She will chronicle her life’s work in her book, “Religious Experiences and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee : A Preachin’ Woman” (1849).  Jarena Lee will be one of first African American women to speak out publicly against slavery.

1790 – The Society of Friends (Quakers) presents a petition to Congress calling for the abolition of slavery.

1933 – Lois Gardella becomes the original “Aunt Jemima.”

1958 – Mohawk Airlines schedules Ruth Carol Taylor on her initial flight from Ithaca, New York to New York City.  She becomes the first African American flight attendant for a United States-based air carrier.

1961 – Robert Weaver (a member of Omega Psi Phi) becomes the highest-ranking African American in the federal government as he is sworn in as administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency.
1966 – Willie Mays signs with the San Francisco Giants for $ 130,000 a year.  At the time, this is one of the highest salaries in professional baseball.
1977 – Clifford Alexander, Jr. (a member of Omega Psi Phi) is confirmed as the first African American Secretary of the Army.  He will hold the position until the end of President Jimmy Carter’s term.
1977 – Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam is named head of state in Ethiopia.  He will rule Ethiopia and be backed by the Soviet government until he loses the civil war in 1991 to the forces supporting Meles Zenawi.
1989 – Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris becomes the first woman consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, in a ceremony held in Boston.
1990 – Nelson Mandela is released from prison after being held for nearly 27 years without trial by the South African government.  The founder and unofficial leader of the African National Congress,  Mandela became, during his imprisonment, a symbol for the struggle of black South Africans to overcome apartheid.

1990 – James “Buster” Douglas defeats Mike Tyson in a stunning upset in Tokyo to win the heavyweight boxing championship. Almost two years later to the day, Tyson will be convicted of rape and two related charges filed by a Miss Black America contestant in Indianapolis, Indiana.


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