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Posts Tagged ‘african american history

  • In: Uncategorized
  • Comments Off on Crowing A Queen: American hero 103 year old Dr. Olivia Hooker legacy lives on

american hero and civil rights leader Dr. Olivia J. Hooker died on november 21st 2018 at 103 years old.  her long and trailblazing life has been written about and honored by many these last few weeks, including receiving her very own google veterans day doodle and a beautiful tribute on nbc today.

Dr. Hooker was a survivor of the infamous tulsa race massacre of 1921, otherwise known as ‘black wall street’.  She was the first african american woman to join the US coast guard in 1945.

she received her phd in psychology at university of rochester at a time when many people of color had limited access to any forms of higher education.  she went on to work with children and served as distinguished professor at fordham university. this is how i learned about her and had the pleasure of meeting her.  Dr. Hooker’s accolades are many.  but what makes her a hero and treasure to america was her boundless heart and honorable character.   

she took me in as one of her own.  i have vivid memories of taking the metro north from the bronx where i was a young doctoral student at fordham to white plains.  she would pick me up in her car and we would drive to her house.  she would offer me a home cooked meal and we would laugh the day away.  she drove down to fordham for my doctoral hooding, she cheered me on in completing my post doc, shouted with joy when i got my first job as a professor and we had a huge celebration the two of us when i got tenure!!

she was always encouraging but also clear about the challenges and barriers that lay before me as an african american female psychologist.  often our discussions would revolve about the great needs among youth in our communities.  the strength, energy and most of all passion that is needed to serve.  the importance of love, generosity and optimism.  she taught me that titles, honors and awards are nice if and when they happen. but the true mark of success is making a difference in the life of yourself and others.   

i watched with awe as through her 80s, 90s and even into her 100s, she kept serving.  living life fully until the end. it has been a true honor to know such an amazing spirit as my mentor and friend.  the beautiful small service to lay her to rest this past wednesday was so special; just like she was. she will be missed but never forgotten.   

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  • Comments Off on Sage’s Rage: Fierce and Female

This past thursday I experienced an emotional roller coaster while watching a preview of the documentary film, Freedom Riders.  Organized by African American Women in Cinema, the event included a screening, Q & A with the producer, Laurens Grant, and delicious reception.

Freedom Riders follows hundreds of brave souls who traveled through the South in the Spring of 1961 to protest segregation practices on interstate buses.   The goal was to have an inter-racial group of people sit in ‘whites only’ areas of bus stations. It all seems so unimaginable given the ease with which we travel today.  However, none of it would be possible for African Americans without the freedom riders.

I learned so much listening to the producer talk about how challenging it was to get footage for the film because the rides were in the early part of the civil rights movement before we knew how impactful those events would be.  Therefore many US networks trashed interviews, photos and shots they had of the rides. She ended up traveling all over the world to places like Japan and France to get whatever images she could find.  She even petitioned the FBI for their film to help bring to life this amazing story. Now that’s fierce!

I had no idea the magnitude of hatred, pain, and trepidation the riders had to go through. I was also struck by the bravery of the women involved; many of whom held major leadership roles in the rider movement.  Women like, Diane Nash, who served as the head coordinator of the rides. Raised in in Chicago, Ms. Nash attended Howard University before transferring to  Fisk University in the fall of 1959. She was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was elected coordinator of the Nashville rides. Ms. Nash had to juggle all those bus itineraries making sure every person was on time and accounted for while dealing with bomb threats, pressure from the FBI and many naysayers.  And remember this was done without the comforts of cell phones, txt or skype to get the word out to her team. Double fierce!
As we now know after a long and tough fight, the freedom riders prevailed and for that all of America won! But what you may have missed is the personal and human part of both sides of the story which Freedom Riders captures so vividly. See what you never knew about this monumental moment in American history by watching Freedom Riders starting Monday May 16th 9est\8c on PBS.
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