Life Insurance: Nannie Helen Burroughs

Nannie Helen Burroughs

Reproduction of Knowledge Trust, part of Dead Feminists series of broadsides. Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring.

Education and justice are democracy’s only life insurance — Nannie Helen Burroughs

Although we are eight days into the month of November, I came to my senses and decided not to post every day for NaBloPoMo 2022. It took me a few days, but I realized that I don’t want to post for the sake of posting, especially when I need to spend my “real writing energy” on the unfinished essays that are due by the end of the year [self-imposed deadline]. Beginning with this post, I will return to my regular blogging schedule of two to three posts per week. I am looking forward to participating next year and I already have a manageable idea for the month.

Tonight I am sharing a postcard that was waiting for me when I returned from my brief roadtrip. It is appropriate for this election night as the results are rolling in. 

The postcard was sent by my Wildflowers friend, Kathi G. One of her artist friends creates inspirational art for women through the Dead Feminists Series, of which this card is part. 

The card features Nannie Helen Burroughs, an educator, religious leader, social activist, orator, businesswoman, feminist, and more.

The tiny print at the bottom of the card reads: 

Nannie Helen Burroughs (c. 1879 – 1961) was born in Orange, Virginia and moved with her mother to Washington, DC after her father’s death. As a student at M Street High School, she met activists Mary Church Terrell and Anna J. Cooper. After graduating with honors, she moved to Kentucky to work for the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention (NBC). At NBC’s annual meeting in 1900, Burroughs’ speech “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping” gained national attention and inspired her to co-found the NBC auxiliary Woman’s Convention (WC), the largest Black women’s organization in the United States. Here Black women could exercise their labor and organizing power independent of male membership and white women suffragists. Burroughs served the WC for over 40 years, first as corresponding secretary, then as president.

In 1907, funded by donations from women and children, Burroughs opened the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, DC, adopting the motto “We specialize in the wholly impossible.” To develop “the fiber of a sturdy moral, industrious, and intellectual woman,” students learned vocational skills to become self-sufficient wage earners. Burroughs’ Africon-American history class was a graduation requirement. She served as school president until her death. The former Trades Hall, now a National Historic Landmark, today houses the Progressive National Baptist Convention.

Illustrated by Chandler O’Leary and printed by Jessica Spring, in gratitude to the Black women who have insured our democracy’s future beneficiaries. 190 copies were printed by hand at Springtide Press in Tacoma. March 2022

You can find out more about the Dead Feminists broadsides by clicking the link: Dead Feminists.

For a little more about Nannie Helen Burroughs click here: Nannie Helen Burroughs; click here for a few details on her relationship with the the Martin Luther King, Jr. family: Burroughs and the Kings; and click here for a list of her speeches with links: Burroughs’ Speeches.

Until next time…

Sunny Blossoms | The Ultimate Kindness

“Kindness” by Martha S.

Today’s Kindness blossom came from my pen friend, Martha S. She painted the sunflower [with a nod to the Ukraine] for International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month. It was refreshing to see a card that simply reminded us of kindness. 

If we think about it, it all comes down to that. Doesn’t it? If we were more compassionate and thought as highly of others as we think of ourselves, women’s rights wouldn’t need to be a thing!

I know that sounds simplistic. Social structures/constructions are complex, and for some reason, humans have an almost innate suspicion of those who are not like them; furthermore, in many cultures, men have been conditioned to see women as inferior to them. These attitudes seem to be at the root of all unkindness—even in our “smaller” interpersonal interactions.

I wish I could pinpoint the moment where [some] men decided that women were inferior to men. Some point to Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden or Scripture in general, but the argument is not supported in Scripture. What Scripture does uphold is that we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); we are part of a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9); and God desires an abundant life for all of us (John 10:10b). And, the best part–His mercy, grace, and salvation are available to all!

That is the ultimate kindness. 

Purple | Women and Inspiration

“Women’s History Month.” Designed by SunsetGal55 on Zazzle. From Kathi G.

I’m back today with more purple!

Since purple is the color associated with women’s movements and social justice for women and since we are at the end of Women’s History Month, I am sharing the purple postcards and inspiration I received from pen friends this month in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

From Lori Ann W:

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Behind every great woman, I pray will be another great woman, whispering “you’ve got this” in her ear.

From Rae L:

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Stay smart!
Stay strong!
Stay beautiful!

From Christine B:

Fight for things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.  —Ruth Bader Ginsburg

From Suzette R:

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To tell a woman everything she cannot do is to tell her what she can.—Spanish Proverb

Finally, from Gerda H, a new friend from the Netherlands:

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When the power of love overcomes the lover of power, the world will know peace. —Jimi Hendrix

These beautiful souls filled my mailbox with purple love and flowers galore. Lori Ann and Rae even included seeds so I can sow my own purple flowers–columbines, morning glories, and wildflowers! Of course, they’ll find their way to the Pics and Posts when they bloom!

Until till next time…

The Sistren: Their Words Filled Me

“The Sistren: Black Women Writers at the Inauguration of America’s First Sister President.” Photo: (c)
Susan J. Ross. 1988. Used by permission.

Can you name these women?

I cannot remember life without these sister-poets and writers. It seems their words have been with me all my life.

I was young–a preteen in most cases–when I was introduced to Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mari Evans, Sonia Sanchez, Toni Cade Bambara. I don’t remember how I came to meet them, other than through my thirst for books, which often led me to my mother’s or older siblings’ book collections.

I encountered others later–when I was in college and in graduate school. I even met some of them in person.

Their names and words became part of my literary vocabulary, reserved for sacred moments, quiet time. Me and my sister writers. Their words filled me and spoke to an experience akin to my own–of black women speaking, loving, empowering–alive and thriving in their own spaces.

Only the black woman can say ‘when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole Negro race enters with me.’ —Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South, 1892


How many did you know? Top Row: Louise Meriwether, Pinkie Gordon Lane, Johnnetta Cole and Paula Giddings. Middle Row: Pearl Cleage, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Toni Cade Bambara. Bottom Row: Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Mari Evans

Many thanks to photographer Susan Ross [website] who gave me permission to share her photo on my blog. You can find also find her on Instagram and Twitter @photogriot.

#ChooseToChallenge | International Women’s Day 2021

#ChooseToChallenge. That is the theme for International Women’s Day 2021.

It is imperative that we challenge the status quo and archaic ways of thinking and doing life and obliterate systems that keep women from being their best selves, but we must also take to task the everyday affronts—byproducts of the system—slights we experience in our homes, in our churches, at work, in the grocery store, while pumping gas, even while sitting alone with our thoughts.

Today, I invite you, yes, to challenge larger systems, but also take stock of your immediate environment, including yourself, and challenge those things that thwart your efforts toward being a whole person.

Challenge individuals who judge you and place you in the tiny box they’ve carved for themselves; challenge those fearful thoughts that keep you incapacitated, those debilitating ideas that creep inside and stall every movement forward; challenge self-consciousness, feelings of inadequacy and invisibility, fear of rejection, and pull up a seat at the table. You don’t need an invitation. You belong there, sharing your grace, your strength, your knowledge, your unique bent.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Berries.

I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them reason enough and–I wish to live. –Lorraine Hansberry, To Be Young, Gifted, and Black

Unbought and Unbossed | Black Women Who Ran

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. —Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005).

Today is President’s Day, but I’m not thinking about the dead white men who are featured on U.S. currency; I’m thinking about the Black women who ran for President of the United States.

I drafted a lengthier [not published] post on this topic four [plus] years ago when Hillary Clinton was the Democratic presidential candidate. At the time, I was annoyed because in some media circles there was almost an erasure of the women who paved the way for Clinton. She did achieve some firsts–first to win a major party nomination by winning a majority of the delegates in the Democratic Party primaries and the first to win the popular vote–but obviously Clinton was not the first woman to run for president.

Among the many women who preceded Clinton’s first bid for the presidency in 2008 were more than a few African American women: Charlene Mitchell (1968); Margaret Wright (1976); Isabel Masters (1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004); Lenora Fulani (1988); Monica Moorhead (1996, 2000, 2016); Joy Chavis Rocker (2000); Carolyn Moseley Braun (2004); Cynthia McKinney (2008).

Peta Lindsay (2012) and Kamala Harris (2019) followed.

Besides our current Vice President, perhaps, the most celebrated Black woman who ran for President of the United States is the “unbought and unbossed” Shirley Chisholm. Chisholm, who began her career as a teacher, became the first African American woman to be elected  to Congress. She served seven terms for her New York district. Four years into her service as Congresswoman, Chisholm became the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for President of the United States from one of the two major political parties (1972). You can read all about Chisholm’s bid for the presidency in the April 2016 Smithsonian Magazine article.

These women ran on various party tickets–the Communist Party, the People’s Party, the Green Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, the Looking Back Party, the Workers World Party, the Independent Party, and of course, Republican and Democratic parties. Despite their diverse approaches, the platforms of these women were similar; they focused on education, social justice, and economic and racial equality.


About the Image: Like the image in last Monday’s microblog, this image is the work of artist Erin K. Robinson. It is part of a beautiful collection of postcards, Brave. Black. First. Celebrating 50 African American Women Who Changed the World, published by Clarkson/Potter Publisher, an imprint of Penguin Random House in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Does the yellow and red remind you of anything? 😉

“A Valentine”

A Valentine (1906)
Priscilla Jane Thompson

Out of the depths of a heart of love,
     Out of the birth-place of sighs,
Freighted with hope and freighted with fear,
     My all in a valentine, hies.
     Oh, frail little missive
            Of delicate texture,
     Speed thee, on thy journey,
            And give her a lecture! 

Fathom her heart, that seems to me, cold,
     Trouble her bosom, as mine,
Let it be mutual, this that I crave,
     Her ‘yes’ for a valentine.
     Oh, frail little missive,
            In coy Cupid’s keeping,
     Oh! speed back a message,
            To set my pulse leaping.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Focus on Black: Click the link and learn a bit about Priscilla Jane Thompson.

Afraid of Nothing

“Girl Bandz” by Céleste Wallaert

I am deliberate
and afraid
of nothing.

–Audre Lorde, last lines of poem “New Year’s Day” from A Land Where Other People Live


About the Image: The postcard above was sent to me by my literary twin and Love Notes pal, Bianca. She always sends the perfect cards with notes written in her impeccable handwriting, embellished with cute or sophisticated washi tape and stickers. The card features the artwork of illustrator and graphic artist, Céleste Wallaert. You can find out about the artist and see more of her work by following the link. The women’s stance exude Audre Lorde’s words, “I am deliberate/and afraid/of nothing.”

About Love Notes: Speaking of Love Notes, the final round for this year begins October 11th. You need a happy mail distraction to counteract all the madness we’re experiencing, so click the link and get signed up today: Love Notes.