Thursday, July 30, 2009

Conversation with two New York supporters of Go, tell Michelle

While attending the NAACP Centennial Convention, we were pleased to meet Sandra and Jasmine, who were the first persons we met at the Author's Pavilion. They said that when they saw we were on the Author's Pavilion schedule, they made a plan to stop by to see us before going to their own exhibit. They are volunteers with the African American Burial Ground in Manhattan. The following is from their website:

"GSA’s African Burial Ground project began in 1991, when, during excavation work for a new federal office building, workers discovered the skeletal remains of the first of more than 400 men, women and children. Further investigation revealed that during the 17th and 18th centuries, free and enslaved Africans were buried in a 6.6 acre burial ground in lower Manhattan outside the boundaries of the settlement of New Amsterdam, which would become New York. Over the decades, the unmarked cemetery was covered over by development and landfill.

Managed by GSA, the overall project is a testimonial to a positive and collaborative partnership between many parties, including the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Howard University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the African American community.

Today the site is a National Monument featuring a distinctive memorial that commemorates and communicates the story of the African Burial Ground—the single-most important, historic urban archaeological project undertaken in the United States."

Jasmine, Sandra, Peggy and I (we are off camera) had an interesting conversation about Go, Tell Michelle, family history and preservation of African American historic sites. We are a little late in getting this post up, so I hope that Sandra and Jasmine get an opportunity to see this and send us a message with their contact information so that we can write or call them.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Father Reads "Go, Tell Michelle" to his daughter

As noted, we have met some very dear and interesting people in our travels with "Go, Tell Michelle". Sometimes, as in the case with David Whetstone, we've been privileged to meet some individuals more than once. We first met David in Washington, D.C. in March at the People's Congregational United Church of Christ. At that time he told us how much he enjoyed our book and offered his assistance in promoting the book. We did contact David after we returned to Buffalo, but as life gets hectic we lost touch with him. So imagine our surprise and pleasure to run into David again at the NAACP Centennial Convention. He was there working on an article he's writing but when he saw we were in the Author's Pavilion he made time to come up to see us.

During our conversation David told us how he is reading "Go, Tell Michelle" to his young 11 year old daughter. Each night he reads two or three letters to her before she goes to bed. David explained that the letters have become, in a way, daily mediations that he shares with his child. What a special and novel way to share the messages in the letters with a child and what a special Dad David is to use this time with his daughter to teach her about Black women: our history, our aspirations, our spirituality, our bonds of sisterhood, our dreams for our children and ourselves, our esteem for the First Lady and much, much more.

We tried to capture David's story with a short video. You may have to turn up the sound on your computer as the quality of the video is low, but we wanted you to see this extraordinary African American man for yourselves.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

GTM Sisters Take Pen in Hand AGAIN

In the months since the January 2009 release of “Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady”, the editors, Barbara Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram have traveled throughout the country on a book signing tour. Everywhere we’ve visited, from thriving metropolitan areas like D.C., Baltimore, New York City and Chicago to small rural communities like Franklinville, New York, we encounter women and men who have read the book, are moved by the letters and poems and relate to their messages. During this time, we have also given countless radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews. “Go, Tell Michelle” has been adopted as a college text and at least one doctoral dissertation has used our book as a major reference. SUNY Press has also received requests to adapt the book for dramatic presentations. In short, this “impressive compendium of eloquent messages” continues to evoke positive responses from readers that have exceeded our expectations. Yet there is still one major goal that we have not accomplished. We have the audacity to hope that our contributors will be invited to the White House for a meeting with the First Lady and a book signing.

Although we have sent numerous copies of the book to Mrs. Obama and her staff we have yet to hear from her. Now, seven months after the publication of “Go, Tell Michelle” contributors to this ground-breaking anthology once again have penned letters to First Lady Michelle Obama. Whether we are successful or not, Peggy and I are so pleased to know that the GTM Sisterhood Network continues to demonstrate the power of a sisterhood that is focused, supportive, communicative, skilled and literate. Thank you, GTM Sisters!