Invisible Fat Lady Presents – Montgomery, AL

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Hi Lovies,

It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you without a dope place to travel to. Okay, so I am no Rakim, but it has been a while since I wrote a travel blog. Well, the Invisible Fat Lady is back with a historical trip to Montgomery, Alabama. Yaaaaas!

As some of you that follow my blog know, my husband and I recently moved to Birmingham, AL. Never, ever ever in my big thighed life did I expect to live in Alabama! However, when the opportunity knocks, you have to jump in. Since I can write from anywhere, it was only fair to support my hubby in following his career goals. So what do I think so far? Not too shabby! Who knew Alabama, specifically Bham was poppin?

Well, you didn’t stop what you’re doing to read about my likes or dislikes of the Magic City. We are supposed to be chatting about my trip to Montgomery. Don’t get too excited, we took a day trip which meant we had to drive down and back(two hours each way) on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I read about the new Legacy Museum and the corresponding National Memorial For Peace and Justice that just opened and I had to see them for myself.

For a total of $10 per person, we purchased a combo pack of tickets that allowed us access to

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© Lisa W. Tetting

both attractions. Of course we tried to be all tech savvy and purchase our tickets in the car, thinking we could just show the bar code on the phone to gain access. WRONG! There we were, looking at each other, neither armed with a portable printer. Well, damn! Luckily, the lady at the box office/gift shop was nice enough to print out our tickets for us. It only took navigating through a long corridor to find the box office. It was actually a little area that used to be used as a gateway to moves slaves from one holding area to another. It has been renovated and gentrified to house several shops and restaurants in this era.

Once we got our tickets, we walked back over to the museum, which is less than a block away, only to have water poured on my head. I don’t mean literally, but that’s what it felt like. The night before we left, I charged up my Canon SLR and was ready for a day of great picture taking. Well, The Legacy Museum had other plans. You could certainly take your camera inside, because they didn’t want to inconvenience you and make you walk back to your car. However, you were not about to use said camera inside the museum. I had 3 pictures that I needed to get, one of the entry wall, one of the jars of sand collected at the lynching sites all over the south, and one of the sculpture on the way out. Just three measly pictures would have satisfied me, but I was denied.

Security Guards be like… 

Sorry Guys, no pics of the inside of the museum and since I had my petty boots on, I didn’t take any of the outside either. That will show them. Anyway, the tour was self-guided and it didn’t take that long. Give yourself 45 minutes to an hour depending on how busy it is. The displays were ok, but I prefer the ones in the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham. They were totally different so it is not a comparison in that manner, just the overall feel of the place was different.

The theme of the museum is ‘From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration’. The most intense part for me was seeing the jars of soil that were meticulously collected from each documented site of a lynching in the South. The most astonishing thing was seeing so many jars with Unknown listed as the name of the person lynched. It amazes me the amount of hate displayed there. On a positive note, I saw a lot of families touring the museum. People of all races, many from other countries, learning about our country’s shameful past and present. (Remember the Mass Incarceration part?)

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© Lisa W. Tetting

When we left there, we loaded back into the truck, after a brief walk around the area to see what we could see. I found it amusing to find the Hank Williams Museum just steps away. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you the historical significance of the location of the museum. It is housed in a restored building that once served as a warehouse/holding cell for slaves between the time they disembarked from ships and were sold at the market, which is only a few blocks away.

Once we left that area, we traveled over to what I deemed one of the greatest memorials I have ever experienced. I say experienced, because that is exactly what you do there. The National Memorial For Peace and Justice is a sight to behold. Thankfully, the guards allowed pictures there. Starting out along the entry of the walkway, you are greeted by a beautiful quote from one of today’s most important writers, Toni Morrison. Continuing up the slight incline you reach a breathtaking sculpture representing the enslaved ancestors. I was speechless as I viewed the art installation created by West African artist, Kwame Akoto-Bamfo. The attention to detail is evident as you view each representative down to the braids of one woman’s hair. Just beautiful and sad at the same time.

As you continue to walk up the pathway, the wall on the right continues to get taller and taller, with inscriptions leading you along the way. Then you get to a stopping point where you can look over the wall to inspect the lawn down below. The view is stunning, but you continue because you must. The first sight of the monuments is at eye level. You’ll notice the pattern throughout the monument of the name of the county and state where the lynching took place, followed by the names of the people who were brutally murdered, and the dates of the lynching.

Some are individual instances, while others appear to have been a massacre. We counted on one structure at least 17 people all killed on the same day in the same county, but the most unnerving thing was they were all listed as Unknown! I can’t tell you the amount of pain this brought to my soul. Imagine families being dragged out and murdered in the streets for no reason. They didn’t even know the people’s names, just their race.

 The memorial is well structured throughout. As the incline increases, so do the structures. They move from eye level to rising overhead at a slow steady pace. You will be entranced at this level, but I will warn you to watch your step. On the structures that are hanging above you, the name of the county and state are etched into the bottom, causing you to look up. Although the designers have installed frames directly underneath the structures, you will be distracted looking up and may run into one. I witnessed a lady doing just that.   You have been warned.

The next corridor has more structures, but also a display along a wall that tells the stories of several families and individuals and why they were lynched. There is a peaceful water wall placed there to honor the dead. From there it continues. It goes on and on and on. The path leads you around to what I call the garden, where the structures are now laying to rest on the earth, in the same fashion as a coffin. It truly resembled a graveyard. Once you reach the end of this path, you are greeted by a tranquility park, set there to honor civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells. It is a place for peaceful reflection.

Just on the other side of the peaceful little corner, there is a pathway that takes you back around to the start of the tour. Here you will find more sculptures that depict racial violence from both the past and present. On your way out don’t forget to read the poem Invocation by Elizabeth Alexander that reflects on the past, but gives hope for the future.

I couldn’t believe how many people were killed in this horrific fashion, not to mention their murders going unpunished. I want you all to stop and think about this. How can this country ever heal if we can’t get justice for the blood that has spilled? This memorial is a good step in the right direction and I applaud EJI for sanctioning a memorial worthy of the mall in DC.

I encourage every man, woman, and child who is drawing breath in their bodies to take the trip to Montgomery and see this memorial. We must start the healing process in order for things to get better for ALL of us. That’s all for now.  And remember… meme53

 

 

 

 

 

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Indie Shine – Erica L. James

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In this edition of Indie Shine, a place for rebirthoflisa to ‘Shine’ the spotlight on indie artists, we welcome recording artist Erica L. James!

Erica James

©Erica L. James used with permission

 

Bio:

A timid nine-year-old decides she will try out for her school’s Glee Club. She is nervous and practices all night, hoping her hard work will pay off. The music teacher calls her name and she walks over to the piano awaiting his note. She sings “Happy Birthday.” He stops playing the piano and she sits down uncertain if she’s made it. After all the auditions, the music teacher stands up and says,”…the following students should remain seated,” and this is where it all began… Erica James is a R&B Hip-Hop artist from Brooklyn, NY. From her days in the Glee Club to high school singing groups, Erica has music vibrating in the core of her being. Her earliest influences were: Mariah Carey, SWV, Mary J. Blige, and HiFive to name a few… Her passion for music doesn’t rest with just singing, but is coupled with her songwriting skills. Far removed from those Glee Club days, now as an adult she shares her love of music, seasoned with the commitment to uplifting her people. Her catchy lyrics flavored with soothing melodies are for those wanting music of substance. Music that people of all ages can listen to. Music that is righteous. Her mission is just one…to create a space where love is safe.

 

Q&A

What do you do and Why do you do it? 
I make music that promotes positive responses to life’s challenges. My destiny is to help people heal themselves. Many of us are hurting and suffering from self-inflicted guilt, shame, and fear. We have enough music about turning up, but my music is about “turning in.” It’s time that we fix ourselves and I truly believe once this happens, the world will be a better place.
Erica James2Tell us about your most recent work. 
My recent single, “Other Side,” is about using meditation to find peace in stressful situations or to envision success in your endeavors. As a practitioner and teacher of Hatha Yoga, I think it’s important to share the tools I use to create a more balanced life. This song serves as a reminder to take time for yourself unapologetically.
Who inspires you?
My grandmother inspires me greatly. She is, and has given the purest form of love I know. She taught me how to be: (1) assertive but compassionate, (2) adventurous but practical, and (3) confident but approachable. I have several college degrees but my education doesn’t stand a chance against my grandmother’s wisdom. She is the smartest person I know, and her dedication to her faith and family strengthens my very own commitment to my life’s goals.
What do you consider your “Masterpiece” at this time? 
My “masterpiece” has not yet been created, or maybe it has. It is my hope that my music inspires one person to change something about themselves for the better. If I have done this, then that is my “masterpiece.”
What is your motto in life? 
My motto is: “Nothing is a problem unless you make it one.”
Name your wildest dream. The one you can not imagine achieving, but would love for it to come true.
My wildest dream would be Erykah Badu, Indie Arie, Lauren Hill, Jill Scott, and Ibeyi participating in my yoga retreat. We would all sing, eat good food, detox, share, and create a space of power.
What is your favorite quote? mayaquote
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou
When it is all said and done, what would you like to be remembered for? 
I want to be remembered for creating music that changed peoples’ lives. I hope that people will say that I made it cool for music to be spiritual without being gospel.
Tell us about your next project and when will it be available to the public?
My next project is my album, “Always In Love.” Hopefully it will be available to the public next Spring.
Where can fans purchase your work? 
Fans can purchase my songs on iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, and Tidal. In addition, fans can stream my songs on Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora.

Social Media

Website: eljmusic.com

Facebook: @songsbyEJ

Instagram: @songsbyEJ

Twitter:  @songsbyEJ

 

Melanade – Grace Jones

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Welcome to another edition of Melanade, where we feature women of color who are doing great things! This month we are featuring the incomparable Grace Jones!

Grace-JonesSexy! Shocking! Beautiful! Dangerous! Icon Grace Beverly Jones is all of those things and more. She ruled the 80s and is still going strong today. Whether she is tearing up the runway, smoking up the silver screen, rocking the concert stage or gracing us with her loud and proud personality on the tube, Grace is undeniably everything!

 

A visionary before her time, Grace is still influencing artist all over the globe in 2017. Check the receipts. Rihanna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and more have her to thank for creating the bar and setting it so high they have something to reach for. Once heard in an interview with Joan Rivers saying she dated twins, she helped break stereotypes that women are not sexual beings.

She unapologetically proved women are not only sexual, but not afraid to ask for grace n dolphwhat we want. She broke barriers in interracial dating, being from Jamaican descent and dating Swedish twins. Her four year relationship with actor Dolph Lungren was buzzing all over the world. She was also the talk of the town when she starred opposite The Roger Moore in “View to a Kill” as bond girl “Mayday”. And yes, there was a sex scene!

 

Her career spanned decades proving that she had staying power. My generation remembers her fondly from her role in Eddie Murphy’s cult classic “Boomerang” where she played diva/supermodel Strangé! IMHO that was the defining role to launch her into the stratosphere as the superstar she is in the acting world.

Jones is also known for her music around the world. Her rendition of “Pull up To the Bumper” is still played in heavy rotation. I have never had the pleasure, but I hear her concerts were off the rails!

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Grace was never known as the classic beauty according to European standards, but she is edgy and gorgeous just the same. She is a photographer’s dream with the angles of her cheekbones and her squared jaw line. Beauty is not all she possesses. Grace speaks five languages and is an author. Her book “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs” was released in 2015.

She has broken barriers in the entertainment industry, while doing things her way. She never let anyone tell her what she couldn’t do and she thrived in controversy.

When it comes to Grace Jones…

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Zora’s Uncanny Resemblance to my mom – Yea or Nae?

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Today ends the week long celebration of the 2nd Anniversary of my first book, The Mistreatment of Zora Langston. I wanted to share something very personal that happened during the planning stages of the book cover.

My graphic artist, Monica Gibbs drew the picture of Zora and sent it to me for approval. A little know fact is that there were some changes made, but when I looked at the draft of her I thought Zora bared an uncanny resemblance to my mom. I marveled at this and showed it only to my husband, trying to think of a way to explain it. You see, Monica and I met online and she had never seen my mom so I was at a loss to explain how this could happen. I still can’t explain it so I will leave that alone.

With Monica’s permission, I am including the pics of ‘work in progress Zora’ and my mom back in the day when she was in her twenties. You tell me what you think. Does Zora really look like my mom or is it just me? Leave me a comment and let me know.image1(1)

img_4848If you still need to get your copy of The Mistreatment of Zora Langston, be sure to take advantage of the anniversary sale $0.99 thru March 19th. e-book only! Click Here to purchase.

Friday Happy Dance – Missy Elliot

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Ok so our world is going crazy with hate and discrimination. We all need to take a break and have fun for a minute or two and Missy Elliot is just the artist to provide this distraction. Here is her latest creation “I’m Better”. I hope you take a couple of minutes to enjoy this visual masterpiece and while you’re at it shake that thang for a couple of secs too. I won’t tell anybody 😉

Calling All Indie Artists!

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Calling All Indie Artists! 

I have decided to start a new feature on my blog called ‘Indie Shine’. This will begin in February 2017! 

 The purpose is to shine a spotlight on individual indie artists. It doesn’t matter what your chosen field is as long as you are indie and an artist. 

I have received responses so get yours in today. Space is limited, as this is only a monthly feature. 

Go to https://rebirthoflisa.wordpress.com & complete contact me form. I will respond with detailed information and a questionnaire. Once I receive the completed questionnaire, I will let you know when your feature will post. 

#indieartist #bloggers