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You were always fearless, / as you rose against the struggle

and the heartache to find  precious “gilded bits” to share.

From Birmingham to Baltimore and beyond,

 
 

 

In Memory of Mother Griot Mary Carter Smith

February 10, 1919 - April 24, 2007

Misunderstanding abounds. It has no special resting place. Rich and poor, majority and minority, young and old, Black and White all feel the sting of being misunderstood.  And there are many people, using many ways, trying to lead us to a better understanding of each other.  I am among those who fight misunderstanding. The weapons I use are stories, drama, songs, poetry, and laughter. I bring entertainment with a purpose.”Mother Mary Carter Smith

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Soliloquy to Mother Griot

By  Beverly Fields Burnette

 

At the 25th Anniversary of our story gathering,

we set out an Ashanti stool for you.

You, in the flesh were not there,

but we saw your smile, felt your spirit,

knew the gleeful way you snapped our circle into place.

We saw you, “fairy queen,” in your diminutive stature,

yet, colossal in your boldness,

and in the bodaciousness of Zora!

 

We heard the words you'd always said,

and one by one we mounted the stage

that you and Sista Linda had set for us

a score and a half ago.

 

In silence, we bent knees to give you thanks

for the countless years of your giving,

for you gave, and FOR-gave

with a heart more infinite than others,

as you pardoned your absent father so many decades ago,

and the man who silenced your young mother

when you were only three

and the woman who senselessly snuffed out

your only son’s brief breath.

 

You were always fearless,

as you rose against the struggle and the heartache

to find  precious “gilded bits” to share.

 

From Birmingham to Baltimore and beyond,

you brought your stories.

They were bigger than all of us,

and you tackled them;

found brilliant kaleidoscopes and rainbows

in the tears of life.

 

Your teachings went far beyond the classroom

that you held for thirty seasons,

and you envisioned each and every lesson

that you would share

when they dubbed you Mother Griot.

 

You stepped up with huge voice,

to master the masses with your African wit,

with Mother of Pearl wisdoms in poetry, song and story.

And even in your mounting years,

you danced and pranced

in your head wrap;

graceful and agile at eighty.

You flashed your whimsical wink

and shared a frisky frolic in the storytelling circle.

 

Then later, even as your eyes faded,

when your gaze was set for Glory,

and you saw the Master's summons,

you looked back from your bedside

to notice Bunjo and Baba Jamal,

two of the many strong beautiful black men

you said you'd miss.

and all of the story-bearers

who readied themselves,

to carry your cowtail switch,

and your peaceful message

beyond your resting place.

Mother Griot, your stories will survive.

They will revive us!

Your lessons will bring health,

and healing and hope

to a nation that clamors

for an answer to hold dear.

 

And now,

DANCE, Mother Mary!

Dance in the headdress,

which crowns your Queenly beauty.

 

Dance by the African tribal firelight,

to the resounding beat of the djembe drum.

Dance by the old-fashionedness

of a Warm Morning heater in Alabama,

whose hot coals still glow RED,

like the hearts that love you.

 

We climb tall hills behind you.

We Circle in your greatness,

and ride this storied journey

lit by the vibrant streak

of your radiant comet.

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November 29, 2007 Beverly Fields Burnette, a published poet, writer, storyteller, and School Social Worker in Raleigh, NC, is President of the North Carolina Association of Black Storytellers (NCABS) - (North Carolina Arts Council|Beverly Fields Burnette) BB71946@aol.com

posted 11 February 2008

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection.

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel.

Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.Jamie Byng, Guardian 

Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)  / Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 21 April 2012

 

 

 

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Related files:  Mary Carter Smith Sitting on Top the World  The National Association of Black Storytellers   Mother Griot Mary Carter Smith