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

A Salute to Elegance – Mrs. Eunice Johnson & Ebony Fashion Fair

Eunice Johnson, 1991, Ebony Fashion Fair via Ebony.com

Eunice Johnson, 1991, Ebony Fashion Fair via Ebony.com

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to join my friends and colleagues in honoring Black History Month. While everyday is a great moment in history, I must acknowledge our longstanding struggle for equality and justice against enormous odds. For every accomplishment there are several stories to tell and we are obligated to continue to write the narrative.

Today I am proud to salute Mrs. Eunice W. Johnson, creator of Ebony Fashion Fair, a highly celebrated fashion extravaganza that traveled to nearly 200 cities each year. This eagerly anticipated show featured haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion for a mostly African-American audience throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

Ebony Fashion Fair Ad via Flickr 1958

Ebony Fashion Fair Ad via Flickr

Ebony Fashion Fair started in 1958 when Mrs. Johnson responded to a friend’s request to raise money for a hospital in New Orleans.  For the next fifty years Ebony Fashion Fair would become an iconic fashion show that also served as a major fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund, several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), sickle-cell research and hospitals. Mrs. Johnson exposed audiences to the latest designs from major fashion houses including: Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin, Valentino and Emanuel Ungaro.

Eunice Johnson, Yves Saint Laurent 1972 Johnson Publishing Co.

Eunice Johnson, Yves Saint Laurent 1972 Johnson Publishing Co.

Mrs. Johnson also used Ebony Fashion Fair as a platform to introduce emerging Black designers including: Lenora Levon, Quinton de’ Alexander, L’Amour, Patrick Kelly and Steven Burrows. African-American models Pat Cleveland, Judy Pace and Terri Springer were also featured in the show.

Ebony Fashion Fair, Pat Cleveland in Valentino - via splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair, Pat Cleveland in Valentino – via splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair Itinerary, Ebony Magazine, Tias.com

Ebony Fashion Fair Itinerary, Ebony Magazine, Tias.com

As a girl, I remember attending Ebony Fashion Fair at the Hilton New York Hotel (then the New York Hilton Hotel & Towers) and the Savannah Civic Center. I loved to see the models strut down the runway in their fabulous outfits. When I attended Audrey Smaltz was the commentator and she ran each show with great style and precision. For me, the highpoint of the evening was the wedding scene. Once I saw the bride walk down the runway in her trendy gown I was ecstatic.

Ebony Fashion Fair, Bob Mackie Wedding Gown, splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair, Bob Mackie Wedding Gown, via splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair - Guardianlv.com

Ebony Fashion Fair – Guardianlv.com

Ebony Fashion Fair - Museum of Design Atlanta - via splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair – Museum of Design Atlanta – via splendidhabitat.com

Mrs. Johnson died on January 3, 2010 in Chicago at the age of 93 years old. She was among the first business owners to create and market a line of cosmetics for women of color.  I still remember purchasing my first foundation from Fashion Fair Cosmetics.  When I opened the pretty pink case, I knew that I was on my way to becoming an adult.

Fashion Fair Cosmetics, Aretha Franklin, 55Secretstreettypepad.com

Fashion Fair Cosmetics, Aretha Franklin, 55Secretstreettypepad.com

In 2013, the Chicago History Museum curated a special exhibition, Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, as a tribute to Mrs. Johnson’s life and accomplishments. Presently, the exhibition is on view at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester now through April 24, 2016. For further information, please access this link to the exhibition.

Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit via chicagohistorymuseum.org

Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit via chicagohistorymuseum.org

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to join the world in saluting Mrs. Eunice W. Johnson for breaking down barriers and creating opportunities in the fashion and cosmetics industry.

Fondly,
Monique

Credits:
New York Times – January 9, 2010 article by Dennis Hevesi
Huffington Post – May 29, 2012 article by Julee Wilson, Senior Fashion Editor
Ebony.com – Additional information regarding Mrs. Johnson and Ebony Fashion Fair

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn Legends Week in Review – My Magnificent 6

Dear Readers,

Time.com

Content.Time.com

Last month President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

I was delighted to see 6 women among this highly esteemed group and 2 are Brooklyn natives. For me it just doesn’t get any better.

It is truly an honor to salute:

Major Bonnie Carroll (Retired US Air Force), a public servant who has devoted her life to caring for our military and veterans.

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (posthumous), the first African-American woman elected to Congress, the first major-party African-American female candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency and Brooklyn resident.

Gloria Estefan, one of the first mainstream Hispanic artists to crossover between English and Spanish language music paving the way for countless other Latin artists to follow.

Katherine G. Johnson, a pioneer in American space history and a NASA mathematician whose computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program.

Senator Barbara Milkulski, who became the longest-serving female Senator in 2011 and the longest-serving woman in Congress and the first female Senator to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2012.

Barbra Streisand world-famous singer, actor, director, producer and songwriter and one of the few performers to receive an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony.  Ms. Streisand was born in Brooklyn, NY.

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to join the world in saluting all of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, especially My Magnificent 6. To learn more about this year’s honorees, please follow this link.

Fondly,
Monique

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Credits:
The White House Briefing Room

My Thanksgiving Playlist #2 – “Get Here”

Dear Readers,

Earlier today I shared the 1st song from my Thanksgiving playlist – What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.  My goal is to share 12 songs with you between today and Thursday which means I need to step up the pace.

My 2nd selection is Get Here by Oleta Adams, a beautiful and talented vocalist whose songs are enjoyed by her fans around the world. Have you thought about your playlist yet? If not, there is still time. For now, please enjoy one of my favorite songs.

Fondly,

Monique

 

Brooklyn Legends Brunch With the Arts – The Wiz is Coming!

Dear Readers,

Happy Saturday and welcome to Brooklyn Legends Brunch With the Arts.  If you haven’t heard the news, The Wiz is coming to NBC on Thursday, December 3rd and I am so excited.  I have fond memories of my mother taking me to see The Wiz twice during its Broadway run. Each time we sat close to the front and I was ecstatic to hear Stephanie Mills sing her heart out (as my younger self-described it). She was awesome. After my second visit, I knew that I wanted to be just like her. There was one huge challenge – I could not sing; but I could dream. Stephanie’s performance in The Wiz catapulted her onto the world stage. Today she is an accomplished award-winning singer, actress and songwriter. I am also pleased to add that she is from Brooklyn, New York.

The Wiz Logo- NBC.com

The Wiz Logo- NBC.com

This week I have seen brief clips of The Wiz and what I’ve heard is pure magic. Stephanie Mills stars as Auntie Em and beautiful rising star Shanice Williams stars as Dorothy. I was so impressed to see Stephanie serve as a powerful mentor to Shanice throughout this production.

This newly created version is filled with star power. I know that we can count on Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Uzo Aduba, Amber Riley, Common, and Cirque du Soleil to shine brightly in their roles. What a wonderful way to usher in the holiday season.

For today’s post, I am pleased to share clips from The Wiz for you to enjoyThank you for spending part of your day with us.

Fondly,
Monique

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Credits:
NBC – The Wiz

 

Welcome to Brooklyn Legends Serenity Sunday

Image

©Shutterstock

©Shutterstock

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Brooklyn Legends Serenity Sunday. As we begin another week, please accept my very best wishes for a peaceful day and a productive week. As I have journeyed through 2015, one thing that I have learned is I must have serenity in order to survive.

These peaceful moments often include: sitting by the water and writing in my journal, reading magazines that focus on home decorating ideas and trends, taking walks so that I can enjoy Brooklyn’s beautiful homes, updating my playlist to include songs that encourage me to slow down and buying fresh flowers for my apartment and dessert from Magnolia’s Cupcakes in Manhattan and Juniors Bakery in downtown Brooklyn. While this may sound cliché, what I want most of all is to be happy and at peace. Of course my life is not this simple, but I enjoy creating periods of solitude every chance I get.

So today I will embrace those things that lift my spirit, provide moments of joy and peace. I hope that you are able to do the same. Thank you for sharing your day with me.

Happy Serenity Sunday.

Fondly,
Monique

Brooklyn Legends Brunch with the Arts – A Candid Conversation

Video

Dear Readers,

I hope that you are having a sensational day!  On Saturday October 10th we shared the exciting news of A Ballerina’s Tale the documentary chronicling Misty Copeland’s career as a ballet dancer. This eagerly anticipated movie, written and directed by Nelson George, made its public debut on Wednesday, October 14th. If you missed Brooklyn Legends Brunch with the Arts – A Ballerina’s Tale please follow this link.

I have seen the movie twice and I am in awe of Misty Copeland’s determination and the sensitive manner in which Nelson George shared her story with us. Misty’s career trajectory took many twists and turns and she paid a tremendous price for her achievements just as you and I have. I also remember a conversation with a good friend around the challenges we often face when shaping our careers and the misperceptions many have around “success” and it comes down to this –the world doesn’t see your struggle, they only see your shine. Perhaps we need to tell our stories more often.

On Monday, October 12th, two days before the movie’s public debut, the 92nd Street Y hosted a screening of A Ballerina’s Tale followed by a discussion with Misty Copeland, Nelson George and Gayle King. For today’s Brooklyn Legends Bruch With the Arts, I am pleased to share this conversation with you.

Have a sensational Saturday.

Fondly,
Monique

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Credits: The 92nd Street Y

Brooklyn Legends Honors ‘American Masters: The Women’s List’

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Brooklyn Legends Tenacious Tuesday and thank you for allowing us to be a part of your day. The days are moving at such a fast pace, in less than 2 weeks November will arrive. Actually, I am very excited as Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

September was a busy month and I am just moving through the list of topics I prepared to share with you, among them Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ much-heralded film, American Masters: The Women’s List which aired on PBS last month. Greenfield-Sanders invited us to “meet 15 women who have created and defined contemporary American culture.” This amazing list of trailblazers consists of:

Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, 1997-2001, Gloria Allred, lawyer, Laurie Anderson, artist, Sara Blakely, entrepreneur, Margaret Cho, comedian, Edie Falco, actor, Elizabeth Holmes, scientist and entrepreneur, Betsey Johnson, fashion designer, Alicia Keys, singer-songwriter, Aimee Mullins, athlete and fashion model, Nancy Pelosi, politician, Rosie Perez, actor, Shonda Rhimes, writer-producer, Wendy Williams, talk show host and Nia Wordlaw, pilot.

Owing to time, I can’t show the full film, but I have included the trailer at the beginning of today’s post. To learn more about this masterpiece, and how to purchase the DVD, please follow this link. Here is a quote from PBS’s website prior to the film’s release:

American Masters Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

American Masters Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

American Masters: The Women’s List focuses on these individuals’ exceptional achievements, struggles and identities. All trailblazers in their respective fields, these women share their experiences struggling against discrimination and overcoming challenges to make their voices heard and their influence felt.

Toni Morrison opens the film with a reading of an introduction she wrote specifically for The Women’s List.

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to salute these phenomenal trailblazers and we celebrate each woman’s tenacity. Thank you for joining us for Brooklyn Legends Tenacious Tuesday.  Have a wonderful day and week.

Fondly,
Monique

Credit:
PBS American Masters: The Women’s List – pbs.org

Meet FDNY Firefighter Regina Wilson – ‘The Hero of My Own Story’

FDNY Firefighter Regina Wilson - NYDailynews.com

FDNY Firefighter Regina Wilson – NYDailynews.com

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Brooklyn Legends Tenacious Tuesday and thank you for spending time with us. We invite you to visit our Facebook page for today’s words of encouragement. Connecting with us is as simple as clicking on this link.  We want this to be an interactive process and we encourage you to let us know if a particular post inspires you along your journey.

Today we are excited to introduce FDNY Firefighter Regina Wilson, one of our newest generation of trailblazers.

Firefighter Wilson is a Brooklyn native and graduate of Samuel J. Tilden High School where she joins a list of distinguished alumni including: Nelson George, featured in our recent post Brooklyn Legends Brunch with the Arts – A Ballerina’s Tale, Lucille Roberts, the businesswoman and founder of health club chain bearing her name and the Reverend Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC’s weekly talk show PoliticsNation. When she joined the FDNY in 1999, she was only the 12th African-American woman to achieve this distinction. During the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, she was among the first responders at the scene. Tragically, seven members of her firehouse – Engine 219, Ladder 105 in Brooklyn, New York – died that day.

This is a career that Firefighter Wilson never imagined that she would have. After attending a job fair at New York City’s Javitz Convention Center members of the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of African-American firefighters with an exemplary 75-year history, spoke with her and presented the FDNY as an option. That was 16 years ago. Since that time she has created a distinguished career with a very promising future. In addition to serving with Engine 219, Ladder 105, she is also an instructor at the Fire Academy on Randalls Island. A high-point of her career occurred earlier this year when she was the 1st woman elected President of the Vulcan Society.

Recently Firefighter Wilson was featured as a part of Makers – Be The Hero Series. During the opening you will hear Firefighter Wilson’s strong voice clearly articulate why she is a hero. To view the video, please follow this link.

I became the hero of my own story when I graduated from the Academy.  No one could ever tell me that I couldn’t do something again.
Regina Wilson

Brooklyn Legends is proud to salute Firefighter Wilson’s tenacity, strength and commitment to the people of New York City.

Fondly,
Monique

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Credits:
Makers – Be the Hero Series – Meet Regina Wilson – Aug. 24, 2015 Makers.com
First Woman Picked to Lead Vulcan Society – New York Daily News – Jan. 16, 2015

 

 

Brooklyn Legends Brunch with the Arts – “A Ballerina’s Tale”

 

Dear Readers,

I hope that you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather and our first holiday weekend since Labor Day. I welcome the down time from the hustle and bustle of my daily commute and, most important of all, I look forward to connecting with you.

Nelson George and Misty Copeland Credit Alex Welsh, The New York Times

Nelson George and Misty Copeland Credit Alex Welsh, The New York Times

On Wednesday, October 7th, the New York Times featured an article on Misty Copeland and Nelson George’s upcoming film “A Ballerina’s Tale,” which opens in theaters, and on demand, on Wednesday, October 14th.

This summer Ms. Copeland was promoted to principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater, a historic first for an African-American woman. Ironically she and Nelson George began filming “A Ballerina’s Tale” two years before this moment unfolded.

Misty was recovering from an injury she sustained when work began on the project. They met at a dinner party years ago and a chance seating arrangement was the spark that led to their collaboration.

Nelson George is a highly esteemed writer and filmmaker who is known for his work on hip-hop and African-American culture. In the New York Times article he candidly shares that he did not start out with an agenda (for the film). To use his words, “We didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew she was going to get back onstage,” he said. He added: “I feel she’s the first big ballet pop star since Baryshnikov.”

I’m excited to be a part of this moment in history and I look forward to Monday evening. In the meantime, please enjoy Brooklyn Legends Brunch with the Arts and the trailer from “A Ballerina’s Tale.”

Fondly,
Monique

Credit: The New York Times, Oct. 7, 2015 Gia Kourlas