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. Yeeeees!

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 each, we purchased a combo pack of tickets that allowed us access to

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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 get our tickets, we walk 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. It amazes me the amount of hate displayed. 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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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 here. 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 at the lawn down below. the view is stunning, but you continue because you must. The first view of the monuments are eye level. You’ll notice the pattern throughout the monument of the name of the county and state followed by the names of the people who were brutally lynched. 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 and throughout. As the level increases so do the structures. They move from eye level to rising overhead at a slow steady piece. 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 people 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 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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New Short Story in SOUL Magazine Issue 5

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Nnekas firstHi Lovies,

Just a quick chat to let you guys know what I have going on. I wrote a short story called Nneka’s First about a little African American girl who deals with discrimination on her first day of kindergarten. Her parents, with the permission of her teacher, teach her classmates a lesson in tolerance.

You can read my story along with other stories and poems from some very talented writers in Issue 5 of SOUL Magazine, edited and curated by Candis Johnsonavailable on lulu.com. Click here to purchase it.

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Reclaiming My Time – Rebirthoflisa Style

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Hi Lovies,

Recently Social Media was all abuzz about Rep. Maxine Waters and her now infamous power play to reclaim her time. Though I was thoroughly entertained by Auntie Maxine dragging Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin for filth, I also felt inspired. I sat down and pondered exactly what that statement meant to me. How can I reclaim my time? Do I have regrets? Will other people start reclaiming their time, as well?

I have wasted a lot of time in my lifetime. No, I didn’t do it purposefully, but I did it all the same. Mostly, I did it out of FEAR – FEAR of the unknown, FEAR of success, and sometimes FEAR of greatness. I have always started things and when I received accolades or pats on the back, I pulled away because I was afraid to really see how high I could go. I have done that most of my life, with a couple of exceptions. I have never been afraid to throw myself into a loving relationship and in my forties, I finally decided to follow one of my hidden dreams of becoming a writer.

Falling in love has always filled an emptiness in my soul, even if it didn’t last. It is ingrained in me to love and be loved. I don’t think of it consciously, but I feel it in everything I do. I am simply not one of those people who have to be in a relationship all of the time. In fact I enjoy my own company very much. However, when I was given the gift of love from the man of my dreams I was ecstatic. We latched onto each other and haven’t let go in 22 years. It is the one relationship that I have where I feel safe, but if  God forbid it were to end tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret giving my all to him. There would be no reason to reclaim my time with him. Doug has changed my life for the better and I will always be grateful.

Becoming a writer was a secret dream that I kept close to my heart for many years. I have been enamored with reading since I can remember. Books contained my best friends and all the adventures in the world. In fact, as a young girl I would spend hours up in the willow tree in front of my house reading. My mom would look for me everywhere and never could find me. It was my sanctuary and I knew once it was discovered, I would be forced to act like a girl and stop climbing trees. I wasn’t wrong. When I was discovered in the tree taking a nap one day, my book in my lap, my mom forbid me from climbing trees. I still did it anyway and accepted the punishment when or if it came. Eventually she decided it wasn’t worth the aggravation and left me alone. When we moved from that house, I wanted to pack up the tree in a box so it could go with me.

Growing up in a small town in the South, I was subjected to many limitations – one of which was girls didn’t become writers – especially black girls. Imagine my surprise one day at school when a tall prim and proper black lady walked into my class wearing horned rimmed glasses and  a scowl on her face. She was a substitute teacher, retired from the profession but filled in from time to time. Mrs. Stitt controlled the class with an iron fist, but I saw a twinkle in her eye when she spoke of literature. She never knew this, because I was afraid to talk to her, but she was an inspiration to me. She informed the class that she was a published author and in fact we had her book in the school library.  I never made time to read her book, but her words let me know it was alright to dream of being a writer. It was suddenly possible because someone that looked like me had done it. I kept that memory close, but still I wasted years writing poems and short stories and keeping them to myself.  Most of them have been lost in the shuffle of life, but I still hold them in my heart.

 Finally one day I was sick of going to work and having to stifle myself. My true feelings  were always hidden behind a mask if I wanted to keep my job. Well as best I could. My manager was always getting on me about my body language and facial expressions. Hey, I am a creative soul and my feelings are worn on the outside. I look back now and see that I decided to reclaim my time even before I knew the phrase. I was about to get serious about my craft. Since then I have written and published five books in the past two years. (Four under a pen name) However, I have not been a diligent as I could have been. I need to focus more and dedicate myself to writing every day. I have decided to write more posts on my blog as well! I am excited about this prospect because I can interact more with you guys. Still no regrets, simply reclaiming my time!

So tell me, what have you done to reclaim your time? Don’t worry if you haven’t started, simply make a plan and execute. Thanks for reading and remember… img_5992

 

 

 

50 Days of Loving Guest Blog Intro

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@Rebirthoflisa Presents

Hi Lovies,

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on Loving vs Virginia which allowed Mildred and Richard Loving to live in the state of Virginia as man and wife.

This ruling has impacted mine and countless other’s lives and I am excited to bring you the guest posts today! I reached out to a wide variety of people to participate in this series. My intention was to have blogs from both sides of the issue, however I was unable to procure anyone who was willing to go on record as being against interracial relationships. Several of my invitations went unanswered so I have a feeling some of those people were not feeling it. Some people got busy and were unable to send in their article. I totally get that because life happens and you can’t escape it.

Regardless of who did not participate, I received a nice response and the bloggers are on point ya’ll. I can’t wait for you to read them!  I want all of the writers who were kind enough to indulge me to know how very much I appreciate them. You didn’t have to do this, but you did! Your kindness will not be forgotten. Below is a schedule of the guest bloggers in order of appearance. Of course I had to participate as well, so I am on there too. I just couldn’t be silent on this subject. The fun starts at 10 AM. Enjoy!

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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.

Zora is 2 Years Old!

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It is the 2 year Anniversary of The Mistreatment of Zora Langston!(March 16th) To celebrate I am giving away 2 autographed copies to my readers. Enter to win on Goodreads.com and good luck! Only available in the US.

Click Here to Enter

 

Melanade- Michelle Obama

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I would like to take this moment to honor Mrs. Michelle Obama as the inaugural person in my new feature Melanade. This feature’s goal is to illuminate women of color who exemplify greatness in this world and who use their power for the betterment of women kind. Though I do not claim to be a feminist, I surely am one in my own way, because I admire and uplift women who make life easier for the next woman.

Flawless FLOTUS, that’s the name I dubbed Michelle Obama when she officially took office way back in 2009. I cannot tell you how overjoyed I was to see a strong, yet demure independent woman with brown skin and the grace of a dancer, move into the White House. She is so beautiful, but she also down to earth. She makes you feel as if you could be her good friend and not just in our heads. Mrs. Obama has the ability to charm dignitaries and regular working class people in the same breath. I don’t mind saying I am fascinated by her presence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and she will be sorely missed.

flotusMrs. O took the country by storm and continues to inspire young girls and women still to this day. I can sit here and write about her astute fashion sense, her charming smile, and her great chops as a mom in the spotlight, but I would not do her justice if I did not talk about her ability to shine in her duties as FLOTUS! This Princeton and Harvard educated woman of color took the position of First Lady and did it like no other in that position. Some feminists may say that choosing to shun her education and take a backseat to her husband’s career was anti-feminist, but they couldn’t be more wrong. They forget that she made a choice! There was no forceful takeover of her career. This woman chose to be present in one of the most historic events in my lifetime. It was the right time and place and she was the right person for the job. No one else could have handled things the way she did. She did not bow down to her husband’s will; she chose to use her education to benefit the entire country, while still being a mom.

As the ‘Mom in Chief’ she elected children and veterans as her platform.  Healthy eating became her major concern, especially for the children in public schools. Not only did she talk the talk, she walked the walk by growing and eating fresh veggies in The White House Garden. Her “Let’s Move” campaign was epic, even getting celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon and her epic ad with NBA players from the Heat. She even affected girls on a global level.

What I greatly admire about her is her ability to take the cruel and senseless attacks on her character, looks and even her gender with a grain of salt. For a woman as statuesque as this woman to be called a man saddened me. Then when she was labeled the “Angry Black Woman” I had to laugh at the absurdity. If they want to see a real angry black woman, I can show them plenty of examples, but Michelle Obama is not one of them. Her motto “When they go low, we go high” is genius. I learned how to conduct myself when faced with adversity. Now I won’t lie, I am still working on this lesson, but I have FLOTUS as a reference and I will utilize her examples to the hilt.

On behalf of women everywhere, I would like to thank Mrs. Obama for all she has done for the American people during her reign. Ladies, if you remember nothing else from her time in office, please remember her words, “You are competent and capable…. The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls.” During her final speech as the First Lady, Michelle hoped that she did us proud as our first lady. Well, let me simply say, job well done ma’am. Job well done!

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