“What are you doing to serve?”
In celebration of Women’s History Month, a tiny question with huge implications is shared from Giving Back. The question is from a story by Meka Sales in memory of her mother Shirley Oliver Nelson—an excellent example of generousness.
Read Meka’s full story: “An Excellent Example,” Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists (pp. 148-149).
Happy Women’s History Month!
To celebrate, women from Giving Back, from my giving circle and from my life will feature here throughout March. The month’s first post is excerpted from Giving Back and spotlights my cousin Britt and my great aunt Annie. Read it below.
ANNIE BREWER | W o n d e r W o m a n
Growing up I honestly believed my grandmother was a superhero. She has long been known both for model good looks and model goodness and she is more wondrous than ever well into her eighties.
Granny’s house was just doors from ours during my childhood so I saw her every day. Awestruck by her ability to handle just about everything, I was her shadow and saw up close how she was always going and doing for others. The little things she did are what I remember most. So many times I watched curiously as she reached into her bottomless basket of greeting cards when somebody needed lifting up and for folks to know they were not forgotten.
My fondest memories are of how she would cook and bake for everyone. Since Granny didn’t drive, Papa would load up the car with pots and dishes and then my grandparents with me in tow would deliver food to people who were sick or going through something. Even through a child’s eyes, I could see the impact of her generosity in each person’s face. Though she was not a wealthy woman in terms of finances, Granny was doing what she knew to do best. Fixing a home-cooked meal or whipping up a cake was my grandmother’s way of sharing her riches.
I still walk in her shadow today. Sometimes between picking up kids at school, assembling prizes for the youth choir raffle, hauling Girl Scout cookies across town and organizing my precinct meeting I pause and think, just like Annie Brewer, and a little smile comes over my face.
BRITT BREWER LOUDD Connection: Granddaughter • Channel: Member, Greenville Memorial AME Zion Church • Cause: Social justice
“… I prayed to God to make me strong and able to fight, and that’s what I’ve always prayed for ever since.” — Harriet Tubman, 1865
Last night’s performance of Harriet’s Return, a one-woman play about Harriet Tubman written by and starring Karen Jones Meadows, sold out! And Karen received a spontaneous and resounding standing ovation from the audience of over 400 people.
The play kicked off the “Heritage & History” programming series that I collaborated with the Gantt Center to create this year and that Duke Energy is generously sponsoring. The series will feature “remarkable experiences with renowned culture keepers”. One luminary presenter is scheduled per quarter.
During Karen’s visit to Charlotte, she participated in a “lunch and learn” with about 50 Duke Energy employees last Friday. On Saturday, she led “Culture in the Quarter,” a hands-on workshop with local youth and families.
The lunch talk, workshop, play about Harriet and Karen’s personal story were highly inspiring and proved ideal for celebrating strong, fierce women (praying to be one) during Women’s History Month and on International Women’s Day.
Below are photos from the past week.
“I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say — I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” Harriet Tubman at a suffrage convention, NY, 1896
A favorable aspect of my work is collaborating with an eclectic mix of philanthropic institutions, cultural organizations, arts groups, businesses, schools and fascinating people around the world.
A current project involves the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and its new HERITAGE & HISTORY series funded by Duke Energy. The program series features nationally noted artists and scholars who are preserving Black culture through an array of disciplines and media.
KAREN JONES MEADOWS (of Karen Jones Meadows Now), an award-winning playwright, actress and educator, kicks off Heritage & History as the featured “culture keeper” in March—Women’s History Month. Once a Charlotte resident, Karen was a regular performer and creative force at the Afro-American Cultural Center (now the Gantt Center). She’s returning to the city to perform her one-woman play, Harriet’s Return: The Legendary Life of Harriet Tubman, which originated as a small project for the Afro-Am in the 1980s. Since then, Karen’s signature theatrical work, in which she plays 30+ characters, has evolved into a critically acclaimed production and phenomenon with stagings throughout the U.S. and internationally each year.
Come experience Karen’s mesmerizing performance in HARRIET’S RETURN at Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, March 8. Get your tix here!