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

 

 

 

 

My Thanksgiving Playlist #8 – “I Say A Little Prayer”

Dear Readers,

I can think of no greater voice to celebrate this time-honored holiday with the Queen of Soul – Ms. Aretha Franklin. When I was growing up, learning the words to I Say A Little Prayer was a rite of passage, and decades later it never gets old. It took a while for me to couple the words of this song with the dance moves, but once I mastered these 2 things, I was allowed into the big girls “club.”

Fondly,
Monique

My Thanksgiving Playlist #5 – “If I Ain’t Got You”

Dear Readers,

We are counting down the hours before the “big” day and I’m moving through my Thanksgiving playlist. Today I am delighted to share one of my favorite songs of all time,  If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys. The one thing I know for sure is all that I have would absolutely mean nothing if I had no one to share my triumphs and setbacks with. For this I’m truly grateful.

Fondly,
Monique

My Thanksgiving Playlist #4 – “Thankful”

Dear Readers:

I hope your day was productive and lived up to your highest expectations. As you can see I am committed to completing my playlist in time for Thanksgiving. This evening I would like to share Celine Dion’s Thankful, which is such a treasure.

Have a great evening.

Fondly,
Monique

 

My Thanksgiving Playlist #3 – “I Believe in You and Me”

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to share the 3rd song from my Thanksgiving playlist – I Believe in You and Me by Whitney Houston. There are days when I still cannot believe she is no longer with us. Whitney’s voice was legendary and her delivery was spectacular.

This is my last post for today, but you will be hearing from me tomorrow. For now, please enjoy the fabulous Ms. Whitney Houston.

Have a great evening.

Fondly,
Monique

Brooklyn Legends Serenity Sunday – “Finding My Voice”

Video

Dear Readers,

Wishing you a happy Serenity Sunday and a day filled with peace. As I was planning today’s post, I was drawn to this video by Maya Angelou in which she shares how she found her voice.

We all encounter challenges that force us to retreat from the world and the only thing that we can do is go within. However, when we find the courage to emerge, and give voice to our feelings, something wonderful and magical happens. Only then, can we begin our journey with peace and serenity as our companions.

Thank you for joining us for Brooklyn Legends Serenity Sunday. Have a great day.

Fondly,
Monique

 

Brooklyn Legends Week in Review & Serenity Sunday – Oct. 25, 2015

Wooden Bridge at Brooklyn Botanic Garden - ©Shutterstock

Wooden Bridge at Brooklyn Botanic Garden – ©Shutterstock

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Brooklyn Legends Serenity Sunday and the Week In Review. I hope last week lived up to, or exceeded, your highest expectations. I was able to connect with a few friends who are well into their fall work agendas.  Indeed being happily employed is always a reason for celebration, but there was a common observation throughout our conversations – time is passing so quickly and our to-do lists are growing exponentially. I truly hope this is temporary as I look forward to my moments of peace and serenity so that I can renew my mind and spirit.

If you live on the East Coast, the weather is simply glorious and the fall foliage is breathtaking. I hope you will find time to enjoy the scenery before winter arrives. For ideas on places to see and activities with your family, I encourage you to visit Time Out New York’s website.  You will find a treasure trove of information carefully curated by their editorial team.  Here are photos of places in New York City where you can enjoy fall’s scenic beauty.

Brooklyn Legends Week In Review

©Shutterstock

©Shutterstock

Last Sunday thousands of beautiful ladies gathered in Prospect Park for this year’s Making Strides Breast Cancer Awareness Walk.  I was so proud of my Brooklyn Metropolis Lions Club members who supported this worthy cause. Regrettably I was not up to the Walk, but I plan to be there next year.

However, the weekend was not totally lost. I participated in a timely discussion about the challenges women face on their journey with Breast and Ovarian Cancer.  Our intimate group of 12, also known as the “Brooklyn Metropolis Circle of Sisters” allowed for a candid exchange of information.  In this safe space we discussed the importance of: early detection, a caring team of healthcare professionals, a firm grasp of treatment options and committed supporters who celebrate your victories and encourage you when challenges arise. The conversation was led by an amazing woman who has overcome Breast Cancer twice in her life. She provided a wealth of information and our discussion lasted well after the meeting ended. I would love to share her story with you in the coming months.

Via Pinterest

Via Pinterest

Last week’s Brooklyn Legends Motivational Monday Facebook posts were a reminder for me to persevere. We started the day with inspirational quotes to encourage our readers and ended with a video featuring Paulo Coelho with Oprah Winfrey on How the Universe Conspires to Help Us as we pursue our dreams. You can view it on the Brooklyn Legends Facebook page, simply by following this link.

On Brooklyn Legends Tenacious Tuesday we celebrated the phenomenal women featured in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ PBS film, American Masters: The Women’s List which aired last month. Greenfield-Sanders invited the world to “meet some amazing women who have created and defined contemporary American culture.” These trailblazers are: former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, attorney Gloria Alfred, entrepreneur Sara Blakely, comedian Margaret Cho, actress Edie Falco, scientist and entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, fashion designer Betsey Johnson, singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, athlete and fashion model Aimee Mullins, politician Nancy Pelosi, actress Rosie Perez, writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, talk show host Wendy Williams and pilot Nia Wordlaw. We have included the trailer from the film below. To view last week’s Brooklyn Legends blog post, please click here.

We celebrated Brooklyn Legends Working It Wednesday, with help from the fashion editors at Glamour.com. 2015 must be the year for accessories for every new concept is so interesting and fresh. Here are three really cool accessories we feel will make your wardrobe pop. For more ideas, remember to visit the Glamour website.

On Brooklyn Legends Thankful Thursday, we embraced gratitude and expressed our thanks to you – our readers and fans – for supporting our work. Your encouragement is very important and we are grateful for your feedback here on the Brooklyn Legends blog, the Brooklyn Legends Facebook page and Brooklyn Legends on Pinterest. Here is the link to our Facebook page once again for your reference

To visit Brooklyn Legends on Pinterest, simply click on the icon below.

Thankful Thursday ended on a fun note when I also shared 3 things that made me smile. Everyone who knows me will tell you that I love flowers. For me they are one of the easiest ways to brighten your day and your environment. Here are some magical designs by Preston Bailey to spark your creativity.

Friday and Saturday were low-key days for me but I yesterday I shared one item I found to be simply sensational – a New York Times recipe for Peaches in Muscat.  I am working on my “list of things that make me smile” and the very idea of this got my attention. I did not get around to this today, but I will certainly let you know how it turns out.

Peaches in Muscat – Enjoy!

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

As always, thank you for allowing us to share your Serenity Sunday. Have a wonderful day and a great week.

Fondly,
Monique

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Credits:
The New York Time
American Masters: The Women’s List via PBS.org
Preston Bailey designs – Prestonbailey.com
Glamour.com
Pinterest
Time Out New York

 

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