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A national figure in the field of storytelling, she often dressed in headpieces and colorful dress

and bracelets. She appeared at numerous Baltimore schools and libraries and performed

at the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center and on Nigerian television.

 

 

Books By & About Mary Carter Smith

Mary Carter Smith: African American Storyteller  / The Griot's Cookbook: Rare and Well-Done

Vibes: Experimentation in Co-creation  /  Town Child  /  Heart to Heart  

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Mary Carter Smith

 Black Storyteller

 

 

Mother Mary Carter Smith -- Co-Founder and Spiritual Leader of the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) --  was featured storyteller at the  the First International Storytelling Festival in Ghana, West Africa  (1999).  She's a modern griot who was inspired by the Black cultural expression of the 1960s and 1970s and by her concerns for harmony  among American ethnic groups.

A graduate of Coppin State College, Baltimore, MD, she has done graduate study in drama, speech and oral narration at New York University, Johns Hopkins University, Rutgers University, Queens College, Catholic University, The University of Maryland and Temple Buell University.

As a writer, Mother Mary is included in the 1970 edition of Poetry and The Negro (Doubleday).  An early book of poetry is Opinionated (Beacon Press 1966).  Her poetry with the art of Wes Yamaka, John Levering and Sten Nordh is featured in the book Vibes (Nordika 1974).  Her other works include Town Child, poetry for children (Nordika 1976) and  Heart to Heart   (Fairfax 1980) an autobiographical book of poetry and prose.  She co authored The Griot's Cookbook (Fairfax 1985).

Television experiences include guest appearances on talk shows throughout the country, as well as video tapings for educational television.  She served as hostess of "Black Is" WMPB - UHF, Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting.  She has been hostess/producer of "The Children's Hour" WHUR-FM, Washington, DC. Howard University aired on Saturday Mornings and is now the "Griot for the Young and The Young At Heart," WEAA-FM, Baltimore, Morgan State University and WSTA, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

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A Brief Bio-Sketch & Chronology of a Storyteller

A national figure in the field of storytelling, she often dressed in headpieces and colorful dress and bracelets. She appeared at numerous Baltimore schools and libraries and performed at the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center and on Nigerian television. Ms. Smith was driven by a multitude of concerns, not only to please and entertain the crowd in the best show-biz tradition but to uplift, to instruct, to span the barriers between peoples. "Mother Mary" was a master storyteller, a griot's griot, a visionary, a philosopher, a historian, an African folklorist, a poet, a singer, and a radio personality (host of the program "Griot for the Young and the Young at heart" on WEAA 88.9 at Morgan State University, for 25 years)

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1919 (10 February)— Born near Montgomery, Alabama, Mary Rogers Ward, to Eartha Nowden and Rogers ward., Ms. Smith grew up in Ohio and West Virginia, before settling in Baltimore.

1923—Her mother, Eartha Nowden Coleman, age 22, was shot to death by Ms. Smith's stepfather in New York City. She was living with her grandmother, Mary Days Nowden, whom she called "Mama Nowden," in Youngstown, Ohio.

1932—Her grandmother died and Ms. Smith came under the care of an aunt, Willie Nowden McAdory.

1935—Moved to Baltimore when the aunt lost her sight and was being treated for blindness at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

1938—Graduated from Frederick Douglass High School  

1942—Graduated from Coppin Teachers College with a a Bachelor of Science in Education -- supporting herself with a night job at the Social Security Administration

1942—Began work with Baltimore school system as teacher and librarian.

1946—Married to Ulysses J. Carter, from this union was born Ricardo Rogers Carter.

1960—Married Elias Raymond Smith

1962—Second husband, Elias Raymond Smith, dies after two years of marriage. Married three times—unions with Ulysses J. Carter and Eugene Grove ended in divorce.

1966Opinionated (Beacon Press), poetry book published.

1969—Attended a poetry reading by actress Joanna Featherstone,  whose influence led her to become a storyteller

1971—Took a leave of absence in  to take up professional storytelling full time

1973—Retired from the city schools system in  to become a full-time storyteller.

1973-74—Griot-In-Residence at Morgan State College, Baltimore

1974—Vibes (Nordika 1974), poetry book published.

1976—Town Child (Nordika ), poetry book for children published.

1978—Her only child, Ricardo "Ricky," was stabbed to death by a woman in a bar.

1980—Heart to Heart   (Fairfax ), an autobiographical book of poetry and prose published.

1982— Co-founded (with Linda Goss of Philadelphia) the National Association of Black Storytellers Inc., which aimed to offer more opportunities to African-American storytellers to be heard. She was a founder of the Griot's Circle of Maryland and Arena Players.

1983—Mother Mary was named the official Griot of Baltimore City

1985—Receives the Zora Neale Hurston Award.

1985—Co-authored The Griot's Cookbook (Fairfax )

1991—Named the official Griot of Maryland.

1994—Proclaimed the "Mother Griot" by the black storytellers association.

1995—Subject of a book in a multicultural children's series, Mary Carter Smith, African-American Storyteller, by Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz.

2004My Autobiography: A Tale That is Told published.

2007 (24 April)—Dies at Genesis Eldercare Cromwell nursing home in Towson. She had been in declining health since suffering a heart attack in January. The Morgan Park resident was 88. . . . Internment was at Arbutus Memorial Park

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To My True Friends

Remember my laughter

Earthy and unabashed

Remember my tears

My cussing

My praying

My changing moods

My ecstasy

My agony

My trying to be honest

Remember me

As I was

As I am

As I will always be

ALIVE

For only with you

Was I most nearly free.

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Colors

Color words don't bother me

Cause what I hear I do not see

Chinese are not yellow

An Indian is not red

If you think a white child is white like snow

Something's wrong with your head

I am not black like leather

Black's just a word that stands for me

People come in all colors

So color words don't bother me

Note: The poems above were replicated from the obituary notice passed out at the funeral of Mary Carter Smith.

See also: Founders of  National Association of Black Storytellers

posted 27 April 2007

Other Poems

Mary Carter Smith Sitting on Top the World     Mother Griot Mary Carter Smith

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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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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. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

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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 Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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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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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