Just before the new year, I was sitting on the beach in Takoradi, Ghana, and I heard a voice deep from within me ask, “What is your deepest desire?” As I pondered the question, I realized that I was exactly where I wanted to be, and as I put myself in the water and floated on my back, I said out loud, “I WANT TO WRITE AND GET PAID FOR IT!” And a few days later Emily Olson invited me to be the guest editor of this issue recognizing Black History Month.
This power of God, universe and all of the things that we cannot see — but know are valid and true — is an example of how Black women survived and thrived in THE most hostile living environment called the United States of America. This is the beginning of a new thing for all of us!
I have to thank my professors, Drs. Lisa Beth Hill, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Bette Dickerson and Jerrye Feliciana for teaching me about the power of Black women outside of my own family and extended members. I also have to thank my family, Gladys Smith, Mary Evans, Helena Gracia, Dorothy Williamson, Madeline Bailey, Bette Lou Spencer, Judy Wills, Gloria Isom, Estelle Rollins, Alice Coleman and Grace Brown!
Finally, I want to thank Dr. Anna Julia Cooper, my profound inspiration for this issue of Motif, whose wise words centered the stories of the 11 potent and creative women featured on page 14. Dr. Cooper was born into slavery in 1858, and grew up to become a powerhouse educator and a wordsmith of her day. She was a peer of Ida B. Wells, Charlotte Forten Grimké and Mary Church Terrell, the foremothers of the Colored Women’s Club movement. Without them there is no Black Feminist movement or Black Lives Matter movement. I am grateful for her well-lived life. She died in Washington, DC in 1964, at the age of 104, and her story should inspire us all.