Gaston, or even Ebony magazine Founder John H.
It is neither fair nor productive to merely condemn them for not knowing. They have no frame of reference for our such challenges as risking their lives for the right to vote, or being forced to ride at the back of a bus, which I had to do even as I was serving our nation as a soldier in the U. The only way they can learn is if we take the time to tell them. Each of us must personally make it a priority to teach. That means ensuring black history is taught to children in our public schools year round as an indivisible part of American and world history. More important, we need to sit down with our children and the young people in our communities and share the trials and triumphs of our own family histories, including our struggle to overcome racism, discrimination, and injustice.
We must make telling the stories of our parents and grandparents a family tradition. True wealth building is about leaving a legacy to future generations.
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We must never stop telling our story. Graves, Sr. It never occurred to me that, as a young black girl, I was a student and a witness to the way to be a storyteller. I began to see that I had the beginnings of the seed to tell my own stories and those of my family. Whenever I make Sunday dinner, it is the voice of my long-gone grandmother whispering all her stories in my ear. And I cling to the stories that my long-gone grandpa told me about coming to Gary, Indiana, from the South and building a life for his family.
I still cry when I think about sitting on the front porch with him hours after my grandmother died. He told me all these stories about their 62 years together.
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He needed a witness. It was a gathering of nearly 1, black women who came together to talk about strategies and social action. But there was something more. It was an opportunity for these women, of all stages and ages, to tell stories about their stress, their pain, their hopes for the future. Even when they sang and danced and cried, they were bearing witness to not just the stories of their past but the stories of their futures.
We heard storytelling from Stacy Abrams, the African-American woman who made a run for the office of Governor of Georgia and lost.
She told the story not of her loss, but of why she has to keep on going to address voter suppression and why it matters for us and our children. She took the stage to use a bit of data to paint a picture of the impacts of stress and working too hard. We pledged to write new scripts for our health and well-being. One woman after the next took to the stage to tell some deep and authentic and shared truth through storytelling. There is the story of what generations of stress does to our bodies and our mental health.
The story of what happens when you discount the power of black women and take our votes for granted. One of the speakers, a minister, who had truly been through some things, told her story so unflinchingly, lovingly, and earnestly that you could hear a pin drop.
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The silence gave way to the triggered cries and in some cases wailing all over the ballroom we were in. The stories hurt us but they freed us and moved us. Good storytelling in my community is measured by the response. You know you made your point only by the reaction or lack thereof.
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Presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris was there, telling us how she got to stand as one of the few black woman to run since Shirley Chisholm. And even though she was in the presence of her sisters, the story-stakes were high for her. She had to get it right. Black women, the most active voting block in presidential campaigns, need to get to know her and her story.
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As she talked about her mixed-race heritage, and her life as a child of an Oakland activist, it became clear that authentic storytelling was her way to make us feel like she was one of us. The whole weekend was a masterclass rooted deeply in the African and African-American tradition of story on all burners. I learned at the hands of master storytellers, so I already had the voice.
I just had to learn to trust it. If you look at why storytelling is so important in and beyond, revisit slavery, when it was forbidden in policy and practice for blacks to read or write. But story is as essential to the human spirit as breathing. A series of essays by people trying to apply the science of a meaningful life to their daily lives. A story told by a black person, especially one who has roots in the South, could be about crossing the street but it is never just about that.
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Somewhere there is going to be something about God and grits and blue lights in the basement. There is going to be a song that includes a long-ago heartbreak, and a dance, and somebody is going to tell you about the best food or the worst they have ever tasted. Sometimes there is a dog. It is our tradition. I switch around in the way I witness through story.
Sometimes it is the who, what, where, when, and why of a journalistic work that covers a story that is not my own.
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But other times it is visual through the lens of a camera. I believe that. When we read books, both fiction and nonfiction, by black authors, the best ones flow like oral narrative.
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