All Articles Tagged "black history month"

Dress Up With A Purpose: Mother Photographs 5-Year-Old As Iconic Black Women To Teach History

March 10th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Mother Photographs 5-Year-Old As Iconic Black Women

Source: Instagram

Now that Black History month is over, you might be feeling a little melancholy. But never fear, March is Women’s History Month and since we’re all Black around here, that just gives us another reason to celebrate the Black women, our foremothers, who made a difference in this country and the world.

With this in mind, we were happy to discover the work of Chauncia Boyd Rogers. Rogers, a freelance journalist and photographer, learned that the school her 5-year-old daughter Ava Noelle, attends had not planned any events to commemorate Black History Month.

But instead of slumping away discouraged, Rogers decided to teach Black History in her home, in a fun and creative way. Rogers told Everything Girls Love, how she came up with the concept.

“The idea came to me at the end of January 2015. When I saw a picture of Ava and myself at our church’s Black History Month program in 2011, I realized that it had been years since I had recognized the month. My daughter, Ava Noelle Rogers, turned five a few weeks ago. So, I decided that she should learn about black history. She hadn’t heard of the month before this year. There are a few reasons why I chose to recreate photos of notable Black women. Part of my church’s BHM celebration included dressing/acting as a notable African-American and sharing facts about that person. A different teen did that every week. Also, Ava really loves playing dress-up and she has a vivid imagination. I knew that having her dress as each figure would help her remember; especially when she looks at the pictures.”

Rogers found photos of Black icons and then used items around her house to dress young Ava Noelle up like these women.

When Rogers first posted the images on her Facebook page and noticed more and more people commenting, she realized that her photos could be used to educate others.

And of course, as it was originally intended, the project has been pretty fulfilling for Ava Noelle too.

She told STL public radio, “I liked when I did Phillis Wheatley. Phillis Wheatley is a poet and she wrote poems.”

Ava Noelle’s other favorites include dressing as ballerina Misty Copeland and First Lady, Michelle Obama.

It looks like this may be a tradition passed down to the next generation.

Rogers said, [Ava Noelle] “told me that she would do the same thing with her daughter when she’s a mom.”

Starting next month, Ava Noelle will start writing sentences about what she’s learned about each woman.

Take a look at some of the amazing pictures on the following pages and be sure to read the captions as they are quite informative.

“Started From the Bottom, Now We’re Here”: How Black Wall Street & Bus Boycotts Can Inform Our Financial Future

February 26th, 2015 - By Kara Stevens
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

For some, Booker T. Washington has gone down in Black History as an “Uncle Tom.” Independent of how you may feel about all of his philosophies, I think we can all agree that he got it right when he said, “At the bottom of education, at the bottom of politics, even at the bottom of religion, there must be for our race economic independence.”

As we continue to find our financial footing as a community, we can look back to Black models of financial excellence: where we used our money to make moves and establish business acumen as one to be feared and respected. Two key models were that of Black Wall Street and The Montgomery Bus Boycott; the former showcases Black business brilliance while the latter shows Black folk wielded their collective financial power for political progress and social good.

Black Wall Street

Prior to its destruction in what history calls The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, Tulsa enjoyed a thriving Black-owned business infrastructure and anchored itself as a hub in the oil industry. Dubbed the “Black Wall Street” by Booker T. Washington or The Magic City by its locals, this Black commerce Mecca in Oklahoma, throughout the early 1900s, was nothing short of impressive. During that era, Black Wall Street swelled with over 600 businesses including 21 churches, 21 restaurants and two movie theaters. It also owned four different railroads and its own commercial airport with six Blacks owning their own planes. Black Wall Street also controlled their own media. They owned two daily newspapers, the Tulsa World and the Tulsa Tribune, and a handful of weeklies. Even though radio has not arrived yet, the city was connected to the outside world through four different telegraph companies.

Downtown Tulsa included seven banks, post offices, libraries, medical schools, dozens of insurance agencies, investment advisers, private-owned bus system, accounting firms, real estate agencies, law firms, and loan companies. In addition, the people of Tulsa had many Black-owned businesses in which they could patronize; Tulsa was awash with jewelry stores, grocery stores, furniture stores, restaurants, pawn shops, cafes, billiard halls, and even brothels. It has been estimated that the dollar in Black Wall Street circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

Six decades later, we leveraged our economic resources in Montgomery, AL to wield political power and social justice in order to end the institution of segregation and usher in the first wave of the Civil Rights Movement.

In Montgomery during the 1950s, the majority of bus riders were Black, but city regulations required that they not only sit in the rear of buses, but also had to give their seats to a white person when all the seats in front were filled. When Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat, she was arrested and jailed. Even though Parks wasn’t the first person to protest the laws, her arrest galvanized Montgomery’s Black community to boycott the National City Lines, which was owned the Montgomery Bus Line at that time.

After Park’s arrest, the Women’s Political Council printed and circulated a flyer throughout Montgomery’s Black community reminding black people about their financial power and calling for a swift, deliberate collective economic response:

“Another Negro woman has been arrested and thrown in jail because she refused to get up out of her seat on the bus for a white person to sit down. It is the second time since the Claudette Colvin case that a Negro woman has been arrested for the same thing. This has to be stopped. Negroes have rights too, for if Negroes did not ride the buses, they could not operate. Three-fourths of the riders are Negro, yet we are arrested, or have to stand over empty seats. If we do not do something to stop these arrests, they will continue. The next time it may be you, or your daughter, or mother. This woman’s case will come up on Monday. We are, therefore, asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial. Don’t ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday. You can afford to stay out of school for one day if you have no other way to go except by bus. You can also afford to stay out of town for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups don’t ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off all buses Monday.”

And so, on December 5, 1955, the boycott began. While the city buses were nearly empty, sidewalks were crowded with Blacks walking to work. Others carpooled or took cabs; Black cab drivers lowered their fares in solidarity. The city recognized immediately it had a huge problem on its hands. Without Black people’s economic input via fares, the bus company of Montgomery faced probable bankruptcy.

Not only was it facing monumental financial losses, it also saw for the first time that a politically unified Black community had the power to usurp the policy of segregation on public transportation. For 381 days, despite violent, unwarranted harassment, and no protection from the state or federal government, the boycott endured. When it finally ended on December 27, 1956, it was a complete victory for the Black community. It showed the city, state, and nation Black economic clout, forced the Montgomery bus companies to desegregate their lines, and lay the precedent for systemic change.

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days. Join Kara’s closed $20 Cash Crash Diet Facebook Group to get some sistergirl support and accountability for reaching your savings goals. 

For The Books: 15 Moments Of Black History Within The Last Year

February 25th, 2015 - By Deron Dalton
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15 Moments Of Black History Within The Last Year

Source: #BlackLivesMatter Movement | thefeministwire.com

History happens 365 days a year. As we’re in a modern day Civil Rights Movement, the Black diaspora continues to make history everyday. Many Black firsts, experiences, triumphs, struggles and significant moments happened from February of 2014 to February of 2015. Here’s a list of 15 of those moments within in the last year for the history books.

10 Black Male Leaders Paint The Blueprint For Black Economic Power

February 25th, 2015 - By Kara Stevens
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Brian To/WENN.com

Brian To/WENN.com

One of my deepest hopes for our community is that we recognize and leverage our economic prowess to improve our collective condition. Since we are closing out Black History Month, I wanted to compile some powerful quotes on money and wealth from some of our financial forefathers, past and present, to inspire you to make wealth a part of your blueprint for personal liberation and happiness.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson
“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.”

“If the Negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong enough to get out of the ghetto.”

Frederick Douglass
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.”

Booker T. Washington
“At the bottom of education, at the bottom of politics, even at the bottom of religion, there must be for our race economic independence.”

Marcus Garvey
“There is no force like success, and that is why the individual makes all effort to surround himself throughout life with the evidence of it; as of the individual, so should it be of the nation.”

Malcolm X
“So our people not only have to be reeducated to the importance of supporting Black business, but the Black man himself has to be made aware of the importance of going into business. And once you and I go into business, we own and operate at least the businesses in our community. What we will be doing is developing a situation wherein we will actually be able to create employment for the people in the community. And once you can create some employment in the community where you live it will eliminate the necessity of you and me having to act ignorantly and disgracefully, boycotting and picketing some practice some place else trying to beg him for a job.”

Russell Simmons
“I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that financial literacy, economic empowerment, and wealth building is going to be the last leg of the civil rights movement. Because one step toward financial literacy takes you two steps toward personal empowerment.”

Stokley Carchimael
“It is a call for Black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for Black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.”

George Subira
“People seem to be coming around to the idea that true freedom as an economic foundation and that economic development is in fact connected to the development of Black privately-owned business.”

Dr. Boyce Watkins
“One thing that’s true is that whether you are making a financial investment or an investment of the heart, you usually get what you give. What’s also true is that investing the wrong assets into the wrong places is a great way to end up broke (or broken).”

Bishop T.D. Jakes
“Any time you stop producing and focus only on consuming, you have nothing to be proud of, other than what you consume… If you don’t produce and wait on someone to hire you, and give you a vision,  you may not get there… And until we start taking over our community understanding our marketplace and get our lion’s share of the marketplace, will we never get up.“

Dr. Dennis Kimbro
“Over a seven year period, I can tell you unequivocally wealth is not a function of gender, not a function of race. It is not a function of circumstance. It is not a function of condition—how the cards were dealt, which side of the town you were born on,  but it is a function of choice, a function of discipline, and it is a function of effort, faith, and believing in yourself.”

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days. Join Kara’s closed $20 Cash Crash Diet Facebook Group to get some sistergirl support and accountability for reaching your savings goals.  

Like It Or Not, Soul Food Is Part Of Black History Too

February 24th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

I hate the belief among some of our people that in order to progress in society, we must disavow all things related to our past.

Now in some respects, I can see why people would want to do this. Racism, sexism, homophobia and classism are all societal ills we should definitely leave behind. But sometimes our people take this disassociation thing a bit too far.

Like when we try to disown fried chicken, collard greens and cornbread.

I have no idea where and how this movement to disassociate ourselves from the bird and all of its delicious friends on the side started, but I want no part of it.

As reported by USA Today:

The president of Wright State University and its dining services vendor have apologized for a Black History Month menu that featured fried chicken and collard greens.

The menu screens at the Ohio school also offered mashed potatoes and cornbread under photos of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other black leaders. The Dayton Daily News reported that people circulated images of it on social media, calling it offensive and disrespectful. Fried chicken has long been associated with racial stereotyping in the United States.

This isn’t the first time some fried chicken and collard greens created a culinary controversy. A few years back, Questlove of The Roots put the entire NBC cafeteria and its staff on blast because they served fried chicken, collard greens and jalapeno cornbread in honor of Black History Month. Seriously? Is he crazy? Who complains about jalapeno cornbread? Anyway, it came out later that the menu was actually the creation of a Black cafeteria worker who wanted to honor BHM with dishes that they felt best represented our heritage.

Granted, I can certainly understand creating an uproar if the chicken is dry or if the wrong persuasion is behind-the-scenes frying the chicken in afro wigs and Blackface during Black History Month. Both of those scenarios are just flags on the play. But as some have pointed out, many soul food staples were brought over to the New World from Africa, along with our people. So what’s wrong with serving and honoring soul food as traditional African-American cuisine?

More specifically, what is wrong with honoring soul food as traditional African-American cuisine at a time when people are trying their damnedest to whitewash over it?

A couple of years ago, Charleston chef and Southern food “visionary” Sean Brock detailed his culinary expedition to Dakar, Senegal, where he hunted for the origins of Hoppin’ John, gumbo, collard greens and other traditional soul food dishes. All of these dishes have roots in West Africa. As noted in the Food and Wine article about his trip, “this isn’t a mere academic exercise; he’s rooting around for culinary inspiration.”

I would say both “rooting” and “inspiration” are understatements. It’s more like pilfering. As the article notes:

Throughout his visit, Brock was scribbling down notes in a red book and communicating with the cooks in his kitchens back home, sending them changes to menus in real time. At one point, as he watched Ly steam rice over a pot of aromatic broth to infuse it with flavor, he cried out, “Genius! Why don’t we do this?” He then promptly emailed his sous chef to tell him about it. “I would love to see what I’ve learned here not just on my menus, but on low-country menus everywhere,” he says. “Western African traditions have shaped one of the oldest cuisines in America, but as we modernized these dishes, they lost their soul. We owe it to both Southerners and Western Africans to find it back again.”

Who owes what to whom? The only thing the creators of soul food owe the South is a bill for all the culinary misappropriation. The only thing worse than the actual thievery of techniques and recipes from the kitchens of Senegal (neatly hidden behind some sappy message about helping soul food reconnect with its native tongues) is the blatant attempt to erase American blacks’ influence out of the entire menu.

Not once is “soul food” mentioned in the article, nor is there any mention of how this traditional style of West African cooking, as well as its recipes, evolved into what it is today. Instead, soul food is being replaced with the more geographically (and dare I say racially) inclusive “southern” term and more contemporary meals to bring us dishes that have “lost their soul.”

The irony is that fried chicken, watermelon (also with origins in Africa) and other soulful favorites were once used to ridicule and mock Black people. This is why so many of us cringe when we see our dietary indulgences mentioned anywhere in public and in mixed-raced discourse. I get that. But as traditional soul food dishes begin to grow in popularity and expand out of the kitchens of Black America, so will the need to disassociate it from its roots. White people might have eaten it too, but very few like to be reminded that what they are eating is, in fact, ‘Black people food.’

Therefore, I am all for Black History Month menus as reminders of both our creativity, as well as our keen ability to maintain the taste and culinary techniques that have been passed down to us from generations.

Goapele Gives Us a Tour of Oakland for Black History Month

February 24th, 2015 - By jade
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A Black Mecca is a city where a good amount of African Americans live and thrive in the community on a daily basis. When you hear of a Black mecca you always think of places such as Atlanta and DC but in this segment, Goapele gives us a tour of her hometown Oakland, California. We are encouraging locals to support and celebrate small town businesses in the area during black history month!

Click here to see our editors tour St. Louis.

 

For more information on the places that were featured in the segment see below:

Oakland School for the Arts

530 18th St.

Oakland, CA 94612

Miss Ollie’s 

901 Washington St.

Oakland, CA 94607

Owl N Wood

45 Grand Ave.

Oakland, CA 94612

Zoo Labs

1035 7th St.

Oakland, CA 94607

 

Moving Forward After February: What Should We Be Teaching Our Children About Black History?

February 24th, 2015 - By Liz Lampkin
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Source: Shutterstock.com

Source: Shutterstock.com

“Once you understand African and African-American history, it’s beautiful. Once you understand the challenges of what we’ve had to overcome, you’ll want to be a part of it.”- Jomo Cheatham

As we are all well-aware, February is the month designated for us to celebrate how rich our heritage is. During this time of year, a number of special events are organized to enrich and enlighten the minds of adults and children alike with the stories of a once (and still in quite a few ways) oppressed people. It’s a lot to fit in only 28 days–and that’s the problem.

While this is the time of year where emphasis is placed on the history and the accomplishments of Black people, I wonder what will become of Black history on March 1. This thought crosses my mind every year towards the end of February because what we have sacrificed and done for this country should be shared to everyone throughout the year, especially to children when they are in and out of school. But in order to do this, we as parents and educators must take the time and make the time to teach this.

A few days ago, I had the distinct pleasure of discussing what children should learn about black history, during and after Black History Month, with Jomo Cheatham. He is the project manager through the DuSable Museum of African American History for the Amistad Commission program for the state of Illinois. According to Cheatham, “Education is essential to everyone and black history should be embraced by all people.”

So where do we start to get educated? Cheatham says we have to stop focusing on slavery and the aftermath of it only. Where were we and what were our people doing before bondage?

“We should start teaching African and African-American history from the beginning. We’ve started teaching in the bankrupt state. They teach about slaves and slavery, but fail to discuss their origins and this can affect the mental psyche for future generations. It’s important to look into what we were before slavery and how we’ve contributed to the world while we were in Africa.”

Further into the discussion, I asked Cheatham about the books used to educate people on history, and he believes that they are a part of the problem.

“It’s by design that the richness of the history is left out because they’re not trying to empower the average citizen with that knowledge and that knowledge will cause people to speak up.”

I also asked Cheatham, as a parent, what he feels is the best way to go about teaching our children more about Black history in a way that will stick. He believes that providing young people with the tools and opportunities on their own to learn about where they come from is a start.

“We should encourage them to research for themselves. Take them to various institutions that focus on Black History and introduce them to the history in other ways than academically. We’re at a critical point in focusing on teaching history, but we’re not there yet. Educating our children has improved but we’ve got a long way to go, and it’s imperative that we start at the beginning of our history.”

The story of Black people is the story of America, as our contributions helped to make this country what it is. But as Jomo Cheatham made clear, it doesn’t simply begin with slavery. It starts on the continent where civilization began, and we owe it to our children and ourselves to educate one another from the beginning. Even if it’s not done in schools, our history should be taught year-round because it will not only give us a better idea of our past, but it will provide better insight on how to move forward.

Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.

“Still I Rise”: USPS Honors Maya Angelou With “Forever” Stamp

February 23rd, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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MayaAngelouMNBossesLast Spring, when the beloved Maya Angelou passed, Twitter campaigned for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to honor the iconic poet with a stamp to immortalize her heart-touching legacy for years to come. Fast forward to the present and Ms. Angelou’s got herself that stamp!

“Stamps have featured people for their notable accomplishments in the arts. They have included American heroes, but one is missing. Maya Angelou was influential in so many ways,” the petition wrote. USPS has responded:

“Maya Angelou inspired our nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word,” Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan said in a press statement. “Her wide-ranging achievements as a playwright, poet, memoirist, educator, and advocate for justice and equality enhanced our culture.”

This commemoration comes right after the USPS honored MIT’s first African-American graduate, Robert Robinson Taylor, in mid-February. The Black architect and educator was sworn in as USPS’ 38th stamp in the Black Heritage series.

“Over the course of nearly 40 years, Taylor designed dozens of essential buildings, including libraries, dormitories, lecture halls, industrial workshops, and a handsome chapel, transforming a makeshift campus on an abandoned plantation into a confident, state-of-the-art institution,” USPS said of Taylor, who graduated from MIT in 1892.

The stamp, which can be purchased starting from $1.96, features a photograph of a 22-year-old Taylor circa 1880 as a student at MIT.

As for Angelou’s Fovever Stamp, that’s still under wraps; the stamp ceremony will be announced.

Angelou, best known for her I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings memoir, died on May 28, 2014 at the age of 86. Her countless achievements include delivering her On the Pulse of Morning speech at President Clinton’s 1993 inauguration and her Presidential Medal of Freedom award, given to her in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

(And to see more of the 2014 MN Bosses, highlighted in the image above, click here.)

Why Business School Is For Punks & Other Financial Lessons From Carter G. Woodson

February 19th, 2015 - By Kara Stevens
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The Mis-Education of the Negro

Black History is Not Only about Lives, It’s About Lessons

During Black History month, we focus our collective energy on celebrating the accomplishments and struggles of Black leaders who challenged, revolutionized, and confronted America’s oppressive, color-based system of disenfranchisement.

But the power of Black History is not limited to the glorification of a few figures. The power of our history, like the Ghanaian adinkra symbol “sanfoka,” a bird flying forward while looking backwards, illuminates the interconnection of the past to the present. The past has the  ability to continually influence, impact, and shape our present.

As we approach the end of Black History Month, it is fitting that we focus our attention on the bequeathed advice, warnings, and philosophies that Carter Goodwin Woodson, father of Black History Month left.

Be Careful of the Education that You Keep

“The mere imparting of information is not education.” Woodson wrote this statement in the preface to his 1933 publication The Mis-Education of the Negro to warn the newly liberated class of Africans of the dangers and futility of seeking social acceptance and financial wealth through the acquisition of European-centered education and values. During the post-Emancipation Era, Blacks had unprecedented access to formal education at white institutions and white-replicated Black institutions and ultimately found themselves in uncharted territories of constructing, forging, and solidifying divergent financial identities, occupational paths, and earning potentials independent of agriculture, sharecropping, and manual labor.

With the introduction of  “formal education” as a tool toward socio-economic mobility, there simultaneously emerged a stratified and binary positioning of that which was associated with the Black, land-bound, agrarian class and the white, institutional, elitist strata. The growing population of what Woodson termed the “highly educated Negro” wholly embraced that which was considered “white” and demonized that which was considered “Black”, thus elevating mind over body, institution over land, and convention over tradition.

And often to their (our) financial and psychological detriment…

Did You Hear the One about the White Professor, the Negro Intellectual, and the Laundromat?

The American educational system trained blacks to serve the economic interests of the white power class and implicitly, to work against, ignore, and sabotage the financial well-being of Black financial standing. For a people that were captured, enslaved, and shoved into servitude because of their superior and advanced understanding of land, nature, and agriculture and hired out as skilled laborers in woodwork, masonry, and domestic arenas throughout the pre- and post-Emancipation periods, embarking on entrepreneurial endeavors that exploited these gifts and strengths would make perfect financial sense. Woodson found, however, that “highly educated Negroes” leaving schools of business administration despised and  passed up the opportunities to generate wealth through “runn[ing] ice wagons, push[ing] banana carts, and sell[ing] peanuts among their own people” because they were trained exclusively in the psychology and economics of Wall Street, and not the financial dimension, structure, or nuance of the Black financial belt. (Woodson, 1933)

This gaping hole in financial business sense and community pride afforded white ruling class the ability to not only maintain but exacerbate the disparity in wealth between these groups. Woodson drives this point when he recounts the distinct responses of a white professor and Black instructor to being invited to run a laundry service for  Blacks. The former resigned his position at a university and became rich. The latter considered the suggestion an insult to his intelligence and position and did not become rich.

Re-educate to Elevate

Woodson wrote this call to consciousness for middle class Black America over 80 years ago. Its message, nonetheless, remains appropriate. Vanity and the desire for social acceptance continue to thwart our entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and happiness: 

  • How many times have we allowed the promise of title or prestige keep us from maximizing our financial potential? (i.e. Is making $1,000 in eight hours by  selling water on Eastern Parkway during the Labor Day Parade beneath you because you have a BA in Psychology, Anthropology, or Criminology?)
  • How many of us only harness our entrepreneurial spirit during times of unemployment or underemployment and disengage it once we secure a job?
  • How many of our family members view our decision to work for ourselves with disdain and scorn?
  • How many of us place more value on working for a large corporation or firm than working for ourselves?

Each Man is a Revolution Onto Himself

Self-awareness, confidence, and the ability to problem solve are indicators of quality, true, and pure education. As a people, we have the benefit of the oral and written traditions of well-known scholars and lesser known everyday heroes to guide, coach, and support us through our journeys.  This means that the process of re-education is possible, probable, and without pretense or mystery, thus allowing each man to be a personal revolution unto himself and his community.

 

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days. Join Kara’s closed $20 Cash Crash Diet Facebook Group to get some sistergirl support and accountability for reaching your savings goals.  

The Lie That Told The Truth: The Legend of Chico Rey & Freeing Brazilian Truth

February 18th, 2015 - By Kara Stevens
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A worker poses while taking a break from loading charcoal produced from illegally harvested Amazon rainforest wood on June 8, 2012 in Rondon do Para, Brazil.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A worker poses while taking a break from loading charcoal produced from illegally harvested Amazon rainforest wood on June 8, 2012 in Rondon do Para, Brazil. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The driving force behind the Transatlantic Slave trade was the forging and strengthening of a global system based on economic exploitation. In the case of Africa, it was the systematic exploitation of its natural and human resources.

In the most widespread accounts of slavery, we hear of a rancid, blanket despair: rapid disintegration of customs, beliefs, and family structures; broken spirits; weary bodies. Very few accounts, however, herald the enduring power of the African human spirit let alone the financial deft and vision of many of our heroes, whose stories remain untold. The story of Chico Rey of Brazil serves as a quintessential example of the power of cooperative economics, patience, and hope. In some circles, however, the story of Chico Rey is considered a legend — an unverified story handed down from generation to generation to inspire and inform.

Chico Rey was an African king prior to being enslaved and transported to Brazil at the beginning of the 18th century. During the Middle Passage, he lost his wife and most of his children. One son survived the horror of the voyage. Once they arrived in Brazil, he and his son were bought by the same slavemaster and placed to work at a gold mine in Villa Rica, the capital of the province of Minas Gerais, located in the interior of Brazil. During his forced years of servitude, he was baptized and also forced to adopt the name, Francisco. As a sign of continued loyalty, admiration, and respect, his former subjects and countrymen affectionately referred to him as “Chico Rey.” “Chico” is a nickname for “Francisco” in Brazil and “rey” means “king” in Portuguese.

This kingly character was driven by a vision and work ethic that focused on the liberation of his son, his people, and himself. To this end, he worked not only in the gold mines during the week, but he also worked for himself on Sundays and holidays for years in order to purchase his son’s freedom. After his son was liberated, they both worked tirelessly to manumit Chico Rey. Once he and his son were free, together they worked and pooled their resources to secure the freedom of the king’s subjects. Each subject would then, in turn, join the efforts to free the next. Little by little, they reunited Chico’s court, bought a gold mine, and liberated other slaves in nearby areas.

As a testimony to the greatness and staying power of his people, Chico Rey later founded the brotherhood, Our Lady of Rosary, the patron icon of Blacks, and constructed a church in her honor with the same name. Once a year, Chico Rey, his queen, and members of his court would hold a service and procession in honor of the patron. Those that participated in this ceremony wore their most beautiful, expensive, and elaborately decorated attire. Women decorated their hair with bits of gold, which they would eventually wash under the image of Our Lady of Rosary with ‘holy water’ in the church. This gold was ultimately used for the liberation of other slaves.

Even though Villa Rica has been renamed, Ouro Preto, the annual feast of Our Lady of Rosary continues to be a mainstay in the cultural and historical fabric of the Afro-Brazilian experience. The history of Chico Rey inspires us to keep trying a little harder, plan a little more carefully, and prioritize with a little more confidence, and endeavor with a little more cooperation to overcome the legacy of a financial reality rooted in disenfranchisement and inequity.

 

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days. Join Kara’s closed $20 Cash Crash Diet Facebook Group to get some sistergirl support and accountability for reaching your savings goals.