It’s Black Women’s History Month Y’all!

At least it is at Acts Of Faith In Love & Life.

I’m editing a few posts right now but then I remembered I had started the first post of what was meant to be a series on AA women with Ethel Waters way back from 2009. Since I was doing daily posts then (how did I find the time?) I forgot to continue the series!

I so appreciate the contributions of my elders and forebears. I am very proud of my heritage and have never wanted to be part of anyone else’s ethnic or racial group. We need to better honor these women by living well. I hope more people will read it and enjoy it this time.

Spotlight on Ethel Waters.

Please note, the woman singing with the Duke Ellington orchestra is not Waters but Ivie Anderson. By the way, I did complete Final Cut Pro…then my Mac died.

I’ve decided to set aside some of the other topics on tap and instead will be featuring a few AA women who’ve kicked butt and taken names in honor of (Black) Women’s History Month.

Via the NYT’s Book Review of Heat Wave: The Life & Career Of Ethel Waters (thanks Nichelle!)

Waters’s influence on her fellow singers and actors — especially, but not exclusively, African-American women — was such that Horne described her as “the mother of us all.” (Artists of a later generation would come to describe Horne in the same terms.) Starting out in black vaudeville in the early decades of the 20th century, Waters originally performed and recorded the sort of bawdy come-ons (“It’s Right Here for You” and “I Want to Be Somebody’s Baby Doll So I Can Get My Loving All the Time”) that, in the hands of Waters, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and other women, first established the blues as popular music. Waters’s style was advanced: understated, sophisticated, dramatic without being histrionic, ideally suited to the soon-to-emerge repertory of elegiac, subtly blues-influenced pop music that would come to be thought of as the Great American Songbook. It was Waters who made hits of the future standards “Am I Blue,” “Supper Time” and “Stormy Weather” (years before it became associated with Horne).

If there’s someone you’d like to see featured leave a message in the comment section. We can discuss a possible guest post as well for coverage of more women.  I’m more focused on the less obvious choices of women so we can all learn something.  Doing research is so much fun! I hope you enjoy the series. Have a great weekend everyone!

27 Replies to “It’s Black Women’s History Month Y’all!”

    1. Hi Faith -- thanks for recommending Vintage Black Glamour! It's a labor of love -- and a future book -- for me. I am so excited by the response on Tumblr, Facebook & Twitter.

      Also, as you may already know, Donald Bogle has just released an exhaustive biography on Ethel Waters. It's called "Heatwave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters" http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/books/review/Ha

      1. Nichelle, thank you for contributing with that link. I did not know about the Ethel Waters biography. Serendipity and synchronicity is clearly in effect here! I love your latest blog as well. Perhaps a repost on your opera singing aunt essay is in order as well. Nice to chat with you…it's been ages. I hope all is well!

      2. Nichelle-- Thank you for site! I love being able to look at snapshots of the past and to see many black women living well. I "liked" the facebook page today and ironically, you posted a picture about the Charlotte Brown, whom I posted upthread! 🙂 Like Faith said serendipity and synchronicity all up and through here! 🙂

  1. Hi Faith! May I suggest Ida B. Wells? I realize that she may be a more well known activist, but I find her activism and experiences abroad (esp. considering that time period) incredibly fascinating.

    1. I was just going to suggest her! She was my career idol and I wrote an essay on her for Black History Month. I won an award too! 😀

      1. Lisa99: Would you like to do a guest post and include part of your essay on her if it isn't already online -- or a link to your site if it is. I actually suggest you consider that regardless. You can set up a Tumblr or Posterous page in a few minutes and copy & paste into your email to publish without having to set up an entire blog forum. Let me know…I'd really like more of us to be circulating this type of information and tributes as it's a good reminder of who paved the way for us and how much more we can do! Let me know….

        1. Hi Faith! I will try to find it, but that could take a while. I wrote the paper for a high school contest, and that was, um, 16 years ago. 🙂

          If I find it in some old files, I would be very happy to send it to you and guest post!

  2. Belva Davis, black woman journalist. She's won quite a few Emmy's for her work!

    btw…This post has given me inspiration for my own blog -- Focusing on architects and planners of course!

    Looking forward to this series.

    1. Oooh, I saw the Women in Architecture and Urban Planning link, and I can't tell you how excited I am that someone highlighted that field!!

      Vanessa F., you are talking to a undergrad who is an Architecture major right now…;) And as such, I would like to give props my advisor at my university, just because she has beed my inspiration here to continue with my dream of becoming a practicing architect and getting my Ph.D. in the field (silly me, I used to believe I would be the first, ha! She got her doctorate!)

      I would also to give props to Bessie Coleman, the very first licensed African-American female pilot. Bach (uh oh, the German Rosetta Stone is getting to me) when I had the idea of being a pilot, (or an astronaut, or physicist, or cardiologist), I thought that it was soooooo cool to take to the skies. And not only did she study abroad in Paris (HELLO!), she was also the first to receive an international pilots license. Awesome.

      1. MesaATLien,

        Congrats on your studies! I am always excited to hear about more black women joining this profession. At my current job, out of a staff of 130, there are only 5 black women (4 AA and 1 Ethiopian) who work as architects and/or planners (yep I am included in this number). I am an urban planner and I work on area plans, regulatory work which mostly involves site plans, etc on local and state gov't projects. I love architecture but decided not to go that route because I am more of a public policy person (and my sketches leave a lot to be desired!)

        At Wicked Urbanity, I plan to put a special emphasis on black women architects and planners during Women's History Month. Off to writing….

        1. Haha, the studio work is what puts alot of people off. Did you go to a university with an art based Architecture degree? I know alot of universities I applied to had the science based one and didn't require a strong background in visual arts.

          Yeah, the art based ones don't play…they say we should spend at least 30 hours on one piece of portfolio work and that we should get started racking up internship hours because we need at least 5,600 hours before we can take the exam…(O_o)

          1. Its a science-based program but they still did not play! I made the decision to not even bother with it based on my perceived abilities only to have a relative tell me "Vanessa the school would have taught you to do it!" LOL! Oh well. But i still enjoyed being exposed to architecture studies. I really enjoyed the collaboration on studio projects between the Arch and Planning Departments (yep planning students still had to do studio work so I did not get off easy!)

    1. That was a good series, Vonnie! I especially liked the Naomi Campbell and Michelle Obama looks. Your mama is TOO cute! Rockin' her diva *snap*

    2. I didn't get around to reading it as I've been swamped lately but did a quick scan and it's great!

  3. One of my favorite quotes:
    'I must sing my song. There may be other songs more beautiful than mine, but I must sing the song God gave me to sing, and I must sing it until death. --Charlotte Hawkins Brown, founder Palmer Memorial Institute

  4. Hi Faith. Excellent post! I feel like Women's History Month should be Black WHM, especially since bw are virtually non-existent during black history month (outside of Parks, King, and a few others).

    My inspirational lady for BWHM is Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Ms. Brown was the founder of Palmer Memorial Institute in Greensboro, NC, 1902. It started as a teaching college and soon became accredited as a community college. Ms. Brown was the administrator and president for 50 years, graduating 1000 students. Palmer Institute closed in the 50s and has since become a NC historic site. http://www.nchistoricsites.org/chb/history.htm

    She wrote a book entitled "The Correct Thing To Do, To Say, To Wear" that is available (and I will be ordering soon).

    1. Thanks for the link and if you want to expand this into a longer post I'll accept guest submissions. I also want us finding out about more women than those (rarely) discussed but still somewhat familiar.

      1. Hi Faith- You don't have to post this, I just wanted to respond. I would like to take a crack at doing a guest post for the blog. Do you have any criteria, if any, for guest posters? When would you like to receive the submission?

        Thanks and have a wonderful week!

        1. hey Jacquie. I've never allowed guest posters so this will be a new experience for me and the readers! I'm only interested in posts related to focusing on black women who've achieved/are living well/off the beaten path related to (Black) Women's History month. That was completely off-the-cuff when I suggested that but I see there's an interest and I'm swamped with some other projects right now so I don't want to submit 1-2 posts. I had already written most of my March posts in advance (on other subjects). I'd love a more extensive series. I'm not opening up the forum! Hmm….maybe one day. Thanks for volunteering though. Send me a message on Facebook and let me know who you want to write a profile for and we can finalize things.

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