Remembering Linda Brown & Celebrating A Legend

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Brooklyn Legends family, it is an honor to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Linda Brown, the lead named plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education – the 1954 landmark case which led to the outlawing of school segregation.

Linda Brown passed on Sunday, March 25, 2018.  She was 76 years old.  Her actions, and those of the other students represented in the case, charted a new course in America’s educational system.

In 1950, the NAACP asked a group of African-American parents, that included Linda’s father – Oliver Brown, to attempt to enroll their children in all-white schools with the expectation they would be turned away.  Mr. Brown honored this request and set out to place Linda, who was in 3rd grade, in Sumner Elementary School.  As anticipated, she was was not allowed to attend.  This action set the strategy for the civil rights group to file a lawsuit on behalf of the 13 families, who were from different states. Since Linda Brown’s name appeared at the top of the list of plaintiffs, the case was known as Brown v. Board of Education and would be argued before the United States Supreme Court.  The lead attorney working on behalf of the plaintiffs was future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

An important objective of Brown was to dismantle the precedent that was set in place by the 1896 decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, which sanctioned the idea of “separate but equal” facilities for racial divisions.  When the Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education, their decision disavowed the notion of “separate but equal” and concluded that segregated facilities deprived African-American children of a richer, and fairer, educational experience.

Life for Linda after the ruling  

When the Court reached its decision, Linda Brown was in junior high school student, which was a grade level that had been integrated before the Brown decision.  In 1959 the Brown family moved to Springfield, Missouri.  In 1961 Oliver Brown died and Mrs. Brown moved the girls back to Topeka, Kansas shortly thereafter. Linda Brown went on to attend Washburn and Kansas State universities.

To learn more about Linda Brown’s life and legacy, please follow this link.

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“Sixty-four years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended segregation in public schools in America,” he tweeted. “Linda Brown’s life reminds us that sometimes the most unlikely people can have an incredible impact and that by serving our community we can truly change the world.”
Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer

Submitted with gratitude and appreciation.

Thank you Ms. Brown!

Monique

We Celebrate Women’s History Month and Empower Young Women & Girls

Video

Dear Readers,

As we continue to applaud the achievements of women around the globe, we must embrace young women and girls as they make their way in the world.

Despite our “busyness” we must advocate for needs of our younger sisters as often, and as loudly, as we can.  Our commitment to empowering the next generation is truly a collaborative effort — one that will require great resources if we are to succeed.  This endeavor is not without its challenges, but I am confident that we can do this.

Leymah Gbowee - via Mic.com

Leymah Gbowee – via Mic.com

I opened today’s post with a video by Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, who shares the story of her personal transformation and implores us to find ways to unlock the untapped potential of girls.  If you are reading this post on your smart phone or table, and cannot see the video, please follow this link to the Ted Talks website. Once there, type Leymah Gbowee into the site’s search engine.

Here is a brief overview of Ms. Gbowee’s amazing achievements from Mic.com.

Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee was sick of enduring the civil war that had been ravaging her country since 1999. Using her education in peace studies and in collaboration with the organization Women in Peacebuilding Network, Gbowee led a mass women’s movement of peaceful protests and strikes. The group also enacted a now-infamous sex strike, in which many Liberian women refused to sleep with their partners until peace was achieved.

The movement culminated in Gbowee and her comrades daringly holding the delegates responsible for peace talks hostage until they reached an agreement. Harnessing the power of women banning together and the tactic of peace, Gbowee successfully helped bring the Second Liberian Civil War to an end in 2003. “It’s time for women to stop being politely angry,” Gbowee once said.  Thankfully, Gbowee continues to lead by example and loudly continues to demand justice, through writing, speaking and her work with the Gbowee Peace Foundation.

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to join with the Gbowee Peace Foundation, and organizations world-wide, in advancing the cause of women and girls. We hope that you will join us in this endeavor.  There is plenty of work to do.

Fondly,
Monique

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Credits:
50 Years From Now, Here Are the Trailblazing Women We’ll Be Celebrating as Poineers – via Mic.com
Leymah Gordon’s speech – Unlock the Intelligence of Women and Girls – via Ted.com

The People’s Champion – Public Advocate Letitia James

Dear Readers:

In a couple of weeks, we will witness summer’s seamless transition to fall.  For many, the shift in seasons ushers in a new set of priorities.  There is a renewed sense of purpose, and we are committed to finishing the year on a high note.

At a New York City Council Meeting - Observer.com

At a New York City Council Meeting – Observer.com

Last year at this time, Brooklynites lent their support to former Councilwoman Letitia James as she pursued her dream of becoming New York City’s Public Advocate.  She would be the first African-American woman from Brooklyn to hold this position.  For many voters, James was the perfect choice, as she has spent much of her career advocating for the people of Brooklyn.  Ascending to this new role was clearly the next step.  On November 2, 2013, she would be successful in her quest.

Outlining her agenda - article.wn.com

Outlining her agenda – article.wn.com

Since taking office, Public Advocate James and her team have charted a broad agenda, and are focused on creating effective change for all New Yorkers.  They envision: Good Work for Fair Pay; Access to Healthcare; a Common Sense Public Education Policy; Utilizing the Court to Preserve Public Education; Universal School Lunch; Keeping New Yorkers in New York, and Legislative Action for Working People.

This past April, Public Advocate James and her team published their first progress report – Our First 100 Days.  Many New Yorkers have expressed their gratitude for the care and concern that she, and her team, bring to today’s challenges.  As a Brooklynite, this does not surprise me.  James is a tireless champion for social justice, education and legislative reform.  While the title that she holds is new, her support for those in need is not.

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We will provide you with a closer look at these initiatives, and their impact, in future Brooklyn Legends posts.  Today we wanted to provide you with a glimpse of the many things our champion is up to.

Many of the people who I have come in contact with believe our Public Advocate is just getting started.  She is just sharpening her focus.  I believe that her best days are ahead, and I want to see her win.  Her successes will become our successes, and that suits me just fine.  Besides, everyone needs a champion.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Monique

Brooklyn Legends Inspirations V – Embracing Autism

Dear Readers,

A few months ago I came across an article that many in my circle are talking about – In Praise of Imperfection which was written for More Magazine by Priscilla Gilman.

Mrs-marine.com

Mrs-marine.com

Ms. Gilman addresses the complicated subject of autism. Many of us have first-hand experience, or know someone who is managing a child with autism.  Growing up, I always felt there was a high degree of insensitivity to individuals with this disorder.  Now that I am older, I attribute this behavior to insufficient and/or incorrect information. Additionally, there are long-standing myths about autism that need to be refuted.

It is well-documented that with open communication, coupled with a genuine commitment to understanding the effects, these myths can be dispelled.  “It is critically important to know that a person with autism feels love, happiness, sadness and pain just as everyone else does.  While they may be challenged around how to express these feelings, this does not mean they do not have them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This myth, and others that have been perpetuated over the years, are the result of ignorance.”

bobbiblogger.wordpress.com

bobbiblogger.wordpress.com

Thankfully we now live in a time where parents, caretakers, and professionals have been empowered with the information they need to discuss the challenges they face with candor and sensitivity.  I am pleased to share with you Ms. Gilman’s article which addresses how she came to terms with her son’s struggle with autism and what she learned from him in the process.

In Praise of Imperfection

Twelve years ago, at 31 years old, I seemed to have all the components of a conventionally successful life: a handsome and brilliant husband, a promising career as an English professor at Yale, an adorable toddler and another baby on the way. But when, shortly before his third birthday, my son Benj was diagnosed with a host of special needs, the illusion of my perfect life fell away. Benj had been reading fluently, spelling complicated words, reciting swaths of poetry and doing math problems with ease since he was two, but now these gifts were revealed to be signs of hyperlexia, a developmental disorder often found in autistic children and characterized by early reading, challenges with verbal communication and impaired social skills. He had gross and fine-motor delays and sensory sensitivities. He suffered from intense anxiety about changes of plan. Aloof, meticulous and compulsive, he spent hours lining up his blocks and toys in fastidious rows.

I, on the other hand, was affectionate, messy and creative. How could I support a child who was so unlike me? As we went from one specialist to another, I hoped that I could learn how to communicate better with Benj, even if I couldn’t completely understand him.

pekoedc.net

pekoedc.net

One day a speech therapist was teaching Benj how to ask for help rather than scream in frustration or shut down. As I listened to her repeat the phrase I need help, I realized that I, too, had a hard time saying those words. I was the one who helped. My father had struggled with depression, and I had been the sunny presence that buoyed and comforted him. In school I counseled and offered advice to my friends. I’d minimized my own problems, and all this caregiving and bolstering, this inveterate optimism, had taken its toll on me.

I found a therapist and shared with her my worries about Benj. For the first time ever, I revealed myself as I was: afraid, vulnerable, in need of assistance. What Benj did literally, I soon understood, I had always done figuratively. He marshaled his toys and became agitated if anything was out of alignment. I had married young, planned an academic career and been the first of my friends to get pregnant. I’d plotted things carefully and wanted all the pieces in place. Tackling my child’s special needs had inadvertently freed me from perfectionism and the need to micromanage my future.

The next few years brought great progress for Benj and me. Rather than accelerating my career, I slowed down, reflected and worked on accepting myself. I wrote a memoir exposing my dark, scared feelings—a huge step for someone who’d guarded her inner life and written only dispassionate essays.

IMG_0063Being Benj’s mother has taught me how to celebrate each tiny milestone (Benj accepted a hug! Benj asked his little brother if he’d had a good day!), how to let go and let be, how to not fret over anticipated disaster and how to inhabit the present more fully. Helping him understand that problems will be thrown our way and that there isn’t always one definitive right answer has deepened my own understanding of the essential mystery at the heart of life. No longer what the poet Theodore Roethke calls “time-harried prisoners of Shall and Will,” Benj and I live the questions together.

Priscilla Gilman is the author of The Anti-Romantic Child: A Memoir of Unexpected Joy.

Stay encouraged!
Monique

Credits:
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Myths About Autism courtesy of Medical News Today
More Magazine, March 2014

 

Remembering Dr. Maya Angelou – A Beacon of Hope & Truth

Dear Readers,

A few minutes ago we lost a great intellectual, a leader, seeker of truth and a great visionary – Dr. Maya Angelou.

Like many of you, I grew up listening to, and often reciting, Dr. Angelou’s great poems.  She entered my life at that awkward time when I needed a role model to look up to.    Of course there was my mother, and many strong women who helped her to raise me, but I also longed to model a wise woman who I could add to my inner circle.  Dr. Angelou was this person for me.

Whenever I would sit and read  I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Life for Me Ain’t Been No Crystal Stair, Phenomenal Woman, and Still I Rise, the world somehow seemed better.  It was as if everything, and everyone, was kinder and easier to understand.  There is true power in the written word.

I came across Dr. Angelou’s interview with Bobby Jones titled The Mask and I wanted to share it in her honor.

Brooklyn Legends joins the world in mourning the loss of Dr. Maya Angelou.  Thank you dear Maya.  You will always be a beacon for many of us.

Rest in Peace.

Monique

Brooklyn – The City of Promise for Jamaican Writers

Dear Readers,

This article, For Jamaican Writers, New Place of Opportunity Is in Brooklyn, was written by Christina Brown for the Huffington Post, October 2013.

As an aspiring author, I was intrigued by Ms. Brown’s story.  Frequently, I receive e-mails from many of our readers who are looking for encouragement on how to start their writing projects, tips on how to stay motivated and general information about the process.  I am always flattered when I receive these notes; especially since I too am a writer in training. Ms. Brown’s article does not provide an overview of the writing process from beginning to end.  However, as a Brooklynite, I found myself relating to many of the illustrations she provided and the authors too!  I thought you might enjoy reading it.  As always, please let us know what you think.

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For Jamaican Writers, New Place of Opportunity Is in Brooklyn
Christina Brown – Huffington Post, October 2, 2013

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The smell of Jamaican patties and jerk chicken and the sounds of the West Indies Patois were very much in evidence during the annual Brooklyn Book Festival. Both cuisine and the language were a reflection of the popularity of Caribbean writers in general, and Jamaicans in particular, in the Brooklyn literary scene. On one night of the festival, at least 75 people lined the gallery at MoCADA, or the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art, to hear West Indian-born writers, including Diana McCaulay and Ifeona Fulani, both from Jamaica, wax poetic about how the cultural landscapes of Jamaica and America have influenced their material.

Buoyed by interest from American publishers and perhaps more importantly, readers who reflect the city’s consistent growth of Caribbean immigrants, a new generation of writers from Jamaica, is finding literary, if not financial, success. “We have to be happy that we have space at the table and happy that someone is willing to engage your part of the narrative,” said E. Wayne Johnson, 45, a Jamaican arts and literary enthusiast who has lived in Brooklyn for more than 20 years. Johnson is Arts Director of the Caribbean Cultural Theatre and helped organize the MoCADA event, held on September 19, which featured seven authors from the Caribbean, including McCaulay and Fulani, reading excerpts from their books. “We as a community are not consumers of our own work or culture. It might sound parochial, [but] the harsh reality of internationally successful writers has made it, because they were a big thing somewhere else,” said Johnson, with a soft but distinctive West Indian lilt.

Census data show Jamaicans account for nearly 200,000 of New York City’s Caribbean immigrants. Making them the third largest group among those foreign-born, surpassed only by people from the Dominican Republic and China. Excited by the opportunity to interact with readers and writers from the Caribbean, McCaulay flew from her hometown in Kingston, Jamaica, to participate in the book reading. She also joined a panel discussion at St. Francis College, on Sunday, September 22, to promote her second novel, Huracan. “I [like] reading to my own people … my book is about leaving and going home,” said McCaulay on Thursday night. The main character in her book grapples with returning to Jamaica after a loss in the family, a sentiment McCaulay believes her audience should readily understand.

Nicole Dennis-Benn & Dr. Emma Benn - ebony.com

Nicole Dennis-Benn & Dr. Emma Benn – ebony.com

Nicole Dennis-Benn, 32, originally from Jamaica, now a writing professor at the College of Staten Island, came to the festival to connect both with readers and other writers. Her novel, Run Free, about a transgender Jamaican boy is set to be published next year. “As a writer myself, it’s important for me to have a relationship with other Jamaican authors, especially given Diana McCaulay is [known] to write outside of the box,” said Dennis-Benn, with her wife Emma by her side.

Despite the population numbers that seem to illustrate a picture that Brooklyn is filled with people who may be able to identify with the characters in the poems, novels and stories of Jamaican writers, “It’s not like it’s a lucrative business,” said Johnny Temple, founder of independent publisher Akashic Books, and chair of the Brooklyn Borough President’s Literary Council. Many of the authors supplement the income from their literary work with other jobs. McCaulay is an environmental activist in Jamaica, and runs the non-profit, Jamaica Environment Trust. “There’s lots of fantastic writers … a lot of publishing companies in Jamaica are getting more established,” Temple said on the last night of the weeklong festival, after wrapping up the last of 60 events from Sept. 16 to 22, that attracted 350 writers from across the U.S. as well as the international writing community.

Temple has been a key organizer of the annual Brooklyn Book Festival since its inception eight years ago. He said at least 10 writers participating this year were from the Caribbean. “It’s incredibly diverse,” said Temple. “There’s so many different types of stories to tell.” “I think the new Caribbean writing is much more immediate and edgy and grounded in the realities of Caribbean living today,” said McCaulay. “It doesn’t have this kind of misty veil over something lost in the past … it’s more grounded in contemporary Caribbean life and work.”

Oonya Kempadoo - commonwealthwriters.org

Oonya Kempadoo – commonwealthwriters.org

Alex Neptune settled in the U.S. 40 years ago, after leaving his home in Georgetown, Guyana. “I don’t read too many novels so when I do read, I want to make sure I’m going to finish the book that I’ve started,” said Neptune, after the talk at the MoCADA. He works in New York’s insurance and real estate industry and he wanted Oonya Kempadoo, the British born, but of Guyanese lineage author, of All Decent Animals, to sign his copy of her book. “I don’t have to think too much about what the writer is saying … when she expresses herself on different issues, I can relate,” said Neptune.

“How are you doing?” a woman asked E. Wayne Johnson, who was perspiring in his salmon colored button down shirt as he carried chairs, trying to determine where to add seats in the already packed gallery before the group, Caribbean Cultural Theatre, opened Thursday’s book reading. “Yeah mon, I’m goodish,” responded Johnson, in the Patois dialect commonly heard throughout Jamaica.  Largely regarded as a spoken language, Patois has over the past several years increasingly gained traction as a literary language.  But in some circles, according to the West Indian author Robert Antoni, 45, its use had been considered a reflection of one’s typically low socioeconomic class and status.

“We writers of the next generation have stood up, and embraced this language. It has taken over our writing. I think if anything characterizes West Indian language, West Indian novels, West Indian poetry, it’s been the embracing of the vernacular … the vernacular is always posited against another language. That language is what we call proper English, but the vernacular is a living thing and proper English is locked up in the dictionaries,” said Antoni.

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Credit
Article from The Huffington Post

Emmy Award-Winning Journalist’s Desire to Tell Us More

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to finally say that spring is almost here, and just in time too.  This is my absolute favorite season, for it represents a time of rebirth and renewal.  Old plans are redefined and sharpened, and everyone contemplates what’s new?  Last week, we at Brooklyn Legends took this question to heart.  Here is what we came up with.

We have made a few additions to the Brooklyn Legends home page that I am excited to share with you; Brooklyn Sounds and Brooklyn Sights.  As you might have guessed, Brooklyn Sounds features a song from a Brooklyn vocalist, and Brooklyn Sights provides a glimpse of the beautiful places in Brooklyn.  I know that many of you follow our posts on a smart phone or tablet.  However, these new features are best viewed when using a computer.  When you get a moment, please spend some time on our site. Don’t forget to tell us what you think.

Continuing with the theme “what’s new,” today’s post will mark the first time we highlight a  journalist from Brooklyn.  I can think of no one better to feature than Michel Martin, the Emmy award-winning journalist and host of NPR’s Tell Me More, which she created 7 years ago.  What makes this show special is the way that Martin explores topics that focus on how we live and collaborate and how we handle collisions that arise during life’s more challenging moments.

Martin is highly praised for featuring provocative, accessible conversations that go behind the headlines with global newsmakers and people you might meet on the street. In today’s fast-paced world, accessibility is an important key to growth. Tell Me More makes room for new voices to be heard on public radio, and social media outlets, while making the connection between traditional public radio and communities of color.

The way in which the show was originally conceived was sheer brilliance.  It was built on a platform that provided something for everyone.  Here are a few notable examples:

  • Barbershop and Beauty shop – designed as a forum for no-holds-barred conversations on the news from men and women in one of the community’s favorite gathering place.
  • Moms – designed as a resource for moms, dads and grandparents.  This is one of the show’s original segments that featured everyday parents and recognized experts.
  • Faith Matters – designed to examine the powerful role faith and spirituality play in everyday life across denominations and faith traditions.
  • Wisdom Watch – designed as vehicle for highlighting views of distinguished ‘elders’ who are thought-leaders and influencers from around the world.
  • Money Coach – designed to provide insights into personal finance, the economy and financial literacy.
  • Political Chat – designed as a place where newsmakers, trusted analysts and sharp rising stars in the world of commentary could reflect on national affairs.
  • Behind Closed Doors – designed as a safe space to discuss issues that most people tend to keep private.
Washingtonpost.com

Washingtonpost.com

Before Tell Me More, Martin had already distinguished herself as a serious journalist.  She joined the NPR family from ABC news where she worked since 1992.  During her tenure at ABC, she served as a correspondent for Nightline from 1996 to 2006.  Among the many stories she featured were: The United States Embassy bombings in Africa, racial profiling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Congressional budget battles. In addition to her role as a correspondent, Martin was a regular contributor to numerous ABC programs and specials including: coverage of the September 11 Tragedy, the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas controversy and reports for the series America in Black and White.  She was also a regular panelist on This Week with George Stephanopoulous.

Prior to her tenure with ABC, Martin covered state and local politics for the Washington Post, and national politics and policy at the Wall Street Journal, where she was also the White House Correspondent.  She has also appeared as a regular panelist on Washington Week, a popular PBS series, and a contributor to NOW with Bill Moyers.

Women Of Distinction - Huffington Post

Women Of Distinction – Huffington Post

Martin has received awards from several influential organizations, including: the Candace Award for Communications from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Joan Barone Award for Excellence in Washington-based National Affairs/Public Policy Broadcasting from the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association and a 2002 Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association.  In addition to her Emmy award, she has received 3 additional Emmy nominations, including one with NPR’s Robert Krulwich for an ABC News program examining children’s racial attitudes.

We at Brooklyn Legends are so proud of Michel Martin.  She is a consummate professional who is dedicated to her craft and committed to excellence.  She has set the bar high and will continue to be a role model for future generations of Brooklyn women of color, who aspire to be journalists.  For this, and so much more, we salute her!

Enjoy the rest of your week.

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Credits:
Michel Martin – NPR.org
Photo for Tell Me More Moms – Lesliemorgansteiner.com
Huffington Post