Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are.
If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition.
There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. Give it up.
If every moment is sacred, and If you are amazed and in awe most of the time, when you find yourself breathing and not crazy, then you are in a state of constant thankfulness, worship and humility.
I think the Civil Rights Movement changed that trajectory for me. The first thing I did was leave school. I was suspended for my participation in Movement demonstrations in my hometown, December, 1961
If we dwell in a community that is comfortable, then it's probably not broad enough a coalition.
Coming up in the African-American culture, we were taught that we belonged to the universe and society was wrong in the way it dealt with us. We had to learn to express and affirm values not from the winning position.
When I started graduate school I was interested in the culture of the Civil Rights Movement.
If, in moving through your life, you find yourself lost, go back to the last place where you knew who you were, and what you were doing, and start from there.
Well, the first time I ran into the term religion, people were asking whether you had any. You know, some people had religion and some people didn't have religion
But I'm a historian. I wasn't interested in just being a producer, I was interested in doing research and presenting that research to a general public
The voice I have now, I got the first time I sang in a movement meeting, after I got out of jail... and I'd never heard it before in my life.
Today whenever women gather together it is not necessarily nurturing. It is coalition building. And if you feel the strain, you may be doing some good work.
Mothering/nurturing is a vital force and process establishing relationships throughout the universe.
It makes sense that whatever the topic is, it's more compelling if you can provide the audience with a range of perspectives, and you can cross disciplines. And you don't have to control what people take out of it.
So one of the things that happened with integration in the South is they found that the black teachers were much more educated than the white teachers.
And I used to think that proof that I had religion was whether I knew how to sing all of the songs.
At the same time all this was happening, there was a folk song revival movement goingon, so the commercial music industry was actually changed by the Civil Rights Movement.
I organized Sweet Honey In The Rock in 1973. The music was sanity and balance.
I learned that if you bring black people together, you bring them together with a song. To this day, I don't understand how people think they can bring anybody together without a song.
Most people come out of their Ph.D. experience trying to prove themselves, trying to get ahead, trying to get published. You're scared everybody else is going to do your research and get your topic.
The Civil Rights Movement also reaffirmed me as a singer. It taught me that singing was not entertainment, it was something else.
Personally I discovered that you could go through the academy as a young scholar, come out, and almost immediately have an impact on the academic environment.
What would you be like if you had white hair and had not given up your principles? It might be wise as you deal with coalition efforts to think about the possibilities of going for fifty years.
The first job I had with the Smithsonian was as a field researcher among African American communities in Southwest Louisiana and Arkansas for the festival.
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