Monthly Archives: May 2023

Red Lip Theology – Candice Marie Benbow

Nicole Escamilla

Dr. Channon Miller

HIST 128 

22 May 2023 

Candice Marie Benbow's 'Red Lip Theology' Explores What It Means to Be a  Black Woman of Faith Today | Glamour

Red Lip Theology 

Through the recorded event from the San Diego Central Library hosted about a month ago, I was able to listen to Candice Marie Benbow’s personal journey as a Theologian and what that entails for a woman of color in the religious field. She highlights her background as a seminary student and how this part of her identity shaped many of the outcomes of her interactions with uncomfortable situations. She described the construction of her book, titled Red Lip Theology, and the defining moments in her life that led to its production. The narratives and themes of this program are significant to our understanding of African American History because they shed light on the significance of Black womanhood within faith institutions, address the role scripture plays within the Black faith community, and provide a call to action from white people towards a safer future for the Black community to grow. 

Candice explained that one of the goals she had in mind when writing this book was to create a space for the recognition of the important accomplishments black women have contributed to female, Black, American, and global historical contexts. She voiced how, “Black women are never heralded as forerunners for religious history”. This is something that is not talked about enough and that carries a lot of damaging consequences for any young woman of faith. Growing up only hearing of male religious figures and the greatness they have achieved, consolidates the narrative that women have no place for leadership roles within a faith institution. A lot of Candice’s work within her book is grounded in an effort to navigate the identities she carries and how they interact within her faith. She mentions how both of her parents were significantly involved within the Church community. However, only her mother was expected to be publicly chastised for her sins while her absent father was celebrated throughout the community. One of the recurring questions Candice brings up revolves around what women, particularly Black women, are owed “for their commitment to religion despite the marginalization they experience within the church”. There are many Black female theologians who are not mentioned throughout history – one example Candice mentions is Dr. Prathia Hall. In our text, we read how “men dominated church leadership”, despite the fact that “women constituted most of the members” (White 529). Not only do they make up the majority of congregations, Black churches relied on the support of females disproportionately. Females were in charge of funding and speaking on behalf of the church while not receiving credit for their contributions. This became more apparent after “invisible” slave churches became institutional churches. As these African American churches became “visible political institutions, Black women receded in visibility” (Green 123). Although there were some feminists advocating for equality within the church, there were others who believed the fight for women’s equality was a distraction from the overall fight for Black equality. Still, there were others who charged the feminist movement as already solved (Green 117).

Another important factor Candice mentioned that impacts our understanding of African American History was the role of scriptures within the Black community and the way in which they affected their journey in America. Candice shared how many Black people refused to read any scriptures written by the apostle Paul. This was because of his sexist background and his advocacy for enslavement – which would later be used as a biblical reference to justify oppression throughout history. She explained that within Black faith communities, there is a level of “interrogation” that must be utilized in order to uphold the integrity of their beliefs. Exposing these practices to those outside of the black community is extremely imperative and beneficial because it serves as a method of decentering one’s self and shifting the focus towards basing your religious pursuits to be in line with your individual morals and values. This goes to show how different the religious experience is for the Black community because of the conflicting lessons being enforced by different authors of biblical texts. By cutting out certain authors from religious instruction, the Black community pays significance to their tortured history and refuses to blindly follow a narrative that does not apply to their identity. Candice mentioned how ignorant people will dismiss the Black faith experience with their microaggressions, suggesting that the correct way to participate in spiritual practices must be in line with how white people practice. Most of the criticism of not wanting to read every scriptural text comes from the idea that it is undermining the foundations of faith. However, taking in historical contexts and painful past experiences is necessary to understand why some of these biblical authors and works are not applicable to those who use spirituality as a source of safety and freedom. Tying this aspect back in regards to women’s role in religion also works to highlight the double standard within these systems. While it is common for many Black male ministers to reject Paul’s teachings of slaves obeying their masters, the same advocacy is not extended to women in regards to the sexist remarks Paul vocalized.

The final method in which this program is significant to understanding African American History is through its “charge” to white people. Candice effectively communicates the importance of white people taking the time to reflect on their role in faith systems and their role as people of faith in general within society. This charge asks that they “decenter” themselves from the narrative – this is where African American History is of utmost importance. Recognizing the atrocities of the past and making strides towards better understanding the Black experience makes it possible for white people to question the integrity of their beliefs. This is important because it not only makes their religious outlook more inclusive, it solidifies the strength of their religious identity. If one is able to understand the power behind Christianity in America and the role it plays in White supremacy, this makes it easier to make the changes necessary to align their Christian faith with a world that considers the African American narrative. Ultimately, the white community must make efforts to shift the balance of powers and develop a space for the Black community to grow and thrive. White members of faith communities are charged with reflecting on whether their beliefs are rooted in white supremacy and are called to evolve their faith systems to include Black people in their consideration towards making the world a safer place for all. This includes allowing others’ approaches to faith to differ from their own – the faith experience is not defined by white standards. One of the questions brought up by an audience member asked what a white person’s prayer for guidance on this topic may look like. Candice replied by tasking them with the accountability to extend the standard of safety they are accustomed to those outside the white community. By recognizing their privileges and ridding themselves of the belief that one should benefit from whiteness, they can allow themselves to be honest about the integrity of their faith.

Overall, Candice used the production of her book as an opportunity to understand the interactions of her identity as a Black Millennial woman with ties to the church and pop culture. With influences from faith and feminism, Candice brought awareness to wounds, questions, and issues within faith systems that must be addressed. By exposing the gender inequalities within the church, the difference in scriptural significance, and the necessity for white people to address their role in these faith systems, Candice reminds us of the importance of acknowledging and understanding African American History and considering its context as we strive for inclusivity. By examining the journey and exclusion Black women have undergone in the faith community, we are called to analyze the ways in which we commend their contributions and pay tribute to their efforts as we move forward. 


Works Cited 

Green, TeResa. “A Gendered Spirit: Race, Class, and Sex in the African American Church.” Race, Gender & Class, vol. 10, no. 1, 2003, pp. 115–28. JSTOR, Accessed 17 May 2023. 

White, Deborah G., et al. “Chapter 9 Reconstruction: The Making and Unmaking of a Revolution.” Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, with Documents, Third ed., Bedford/St. Martins, Boston, 2021.  

The Importance of African American History

The event that I attended for this year’s Black History Project was the Candine Marie Bendow talks Red Lip Theology. This event was virtual and in person at San Diego Central Library on March 17, 2023. The sponsors that were included in this event were Dr. Terresa Bert who is a dean of the University Library at the University of San Diego. Dr. Terresa explains how she wants to bring people together and how grateful she is to be where she is. The next speaker is Candine Marie Bendow who is a multi-genre theologian who centralized her work on faith, beauty, feminism, and culture. Candice gives voice to black women shared experiences of jouring and healing towards wholeness. Candice challenges black women to think critically about how they see the world, themselves, and God in our society today. Candice is the main speaker of this program and she was very well spoken and knew what she was talking about. Candice talks about her love for the library and she feels as if it is her second home because growing up, her mom would take her to the libraries on Friday’s and Candice would spend hours reading books and enjoying being there. Candice makes a strong point that “black women are never heralded as the four runners of religious history making in our community” (7:47).  Candice goes on to explain how black women are rarely given the same spotlight that men are given which is unfair especially since black women are putting a lot of effort into making a change. This is an ongoing occurrence in our society today as well, where women in general no matter the race are not given equal opportunities in life due to their gender. Candice explains how she was committed to working towards getting that exposure for black women who are making a change in the world for better.  The main core idea of this program is aiming towards recognition being given out equally towards those who are trying to advocate for a change in our society today. In our class, African American History, we have learned many events about our past where many African Americans were fighting for a change but their voices were silenced due to the conditions they were living in during that time. Speaking out and not being afraid of your history are things we have learned throughout class that were also talked about in the program I attended.

Throughout the program, Candice expresses her passion and strength to fight for who she is and to not let people dictate how her life is seen or goes. Chapter 9  “Reconstruction: The Making and Unmaking of a Revolution” in Freedom on My Mind, discusses the way African Americans were living post Revolutionary War. Upon the end of the Revolutionary War, African Americans were now faced with adapting to the new lifestyle they would become a part of. Most states started to abolish slavery and those who were enslaved were now given their freedom that was much deserved throughout the torturous years that slavery was happening. Towards the end of the program, Candince talks about Benbow talking about “Naming herself for herself and not for others”. To further explain this point, Candice goes on to talk about the labels we carry within ourselves are the labels we give ourselves. Candice is explaining how we as humans are portrayed to others based upon how we carry ourselves and how we label ourselves. When African Americans were enslaved, they were given stereotypes that everyone that “looks like them” deserves the same thing they are going through. Through this, African Americans had to go through many mental challenges within themselves of knowing that what they were going through was beyond unlawful but still having hope to escape what they were going through. In chapter 9 of Freedom on My Mind, it states, “ “I would rather stay here and starve and die if it comes to that than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters” (897). This quote was said by Jourdon Anderson who was an enslaved man with his wife and three children. The quote above explains how Jourdan still feared after slavery ended that his children and wife would still have to fear of rape and getting sexual exploitation by white men. Candice explains in her program event that growing up she always feared about the “what ifs” but she understood that she had to hold herself strong and carry herself properly. 

African American History focuses on the journey of enslaved humans as they slowly started to gain their freedom. Even in our society today, there is still a big difference in our wealth class which a majority of that problem has to do with race. In a part of the program, Candice talks a bit about what non people of color owe to african americans because of what they put them through. Candice states, “Non people of color owe it to people of color to interrogate the systems that push and grow you and ask yourself if they reflect the world that people of color want to see” (39:42). This quote explains how non people of color have to put themselves in a person’s shoes who deals with racial injustice and ask themselves if that is really how they want to see the world. An article called, What American Owes: How reparations would look and who would pay, explains how reparations are the answer to help eliminate wealth differences which are caused due to systemic racism. In the article it states, “Advocates and experts argue that ongoing systemic racism has placed Black Americans at a disadvantage in everything from obtaining an education to being paid fair wages, purchasing homes, starting businesses and passing down generational wealth — all components needed to achieve robust economic health” (Samara Lynn and Catherine Thorbecke). This quote explains how systemic racism in our society today is causing African Americans to be at a disadvantage when it comes to education, fair pay wages, getting a job and generational wealth. These are only a few of the disadvantages african americans have to go through and those disadvantages are essential to obtain a good economic health.  

The next topic Candice focused on and was one of the most important topics was her making of Red Lip Theology focusing on being committed to a space of truth and not feeling as if you need to portray a certain image to “fit” into our world today. Candice goes on to talk about the importance of being committed to creating space for the persian to want to emerge. This means that we as humans have to make space in front of us for the future us. If we over complicate our life and add more negative things to it that are not needed, our future selves will not be able to be at its full potential. We have to create spaces for us to be and believe. Another important topic that Candice talks about is the fact that our education system today is denying certain classes because it makes the history of this country feel unbearable. Candice talked negatively about this because it is evident that people who are educated about the history of our country are more intelligent when it comes to making decisions that affect all races. 

Throughout this journey of creating this blog and viewing a Black History Program, I was able to gain more knowledge about our countries past as well as get a new perspective of certain topics. Candice preached throughout the program the importance of black women and people in general in church and the equality we must have when it comes to religion. Our visions of life should be a lot bigger than the four walls in a church. What we preach about in church should be spread out into the world and not just keep within that certain church. African American History and Candice Bendow program helped me get a better understanding of African American history. One of the most important things I have learned through this semester is that it will be a lifelong journey of constant learning and pushing forward to solving issues related to race. 

The Definition of Oneself – Kosi Ezeanolue

Kosi Ezeanolue

The Definition of Oneself

On March 31, 2023, I saw a presentation led by Dr. Mae C. Jemison,  an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut who became the first African-American woman to travel in space. She opens by talking about how our backgrounds and identifications play a significant role in our futures yet we are not ruled by it. Jemison then goes into a story about when she was a little girl and her teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. A young Mae Jemison responded “I’d like to be a scientist” to which her teacher responded, “You mean a nurse?”. This story was a great representation of the limitations placed on her as a girl based on her identity as a woman. With this introduction from Dr. Jemison, it was clear that she had a powerful message about the importance of defining yourself and understanding your identity. The purpose of the program was to shed light on Jemison’s journey, and the core narratives and themes that emerged revolved around the importance of perseverance, the power of education, and the impact of race and gender on one’s success.

In the discussion panel, Dr. Mae Jemison shared her personal experiences of being a black woman in America. She emphasized the importance of recognizing and celebrating diversity in all its forms. According to Dr. Jemison, being black is not just a skin color, but it is an identity that is tied to the experiences, history, and culture of black people. Dr. Jemison also touched on the issue of “tokenism”, where individuals from underrepresented groups are included in a group or organization to give the appearance of diversity. She stressed that true diversity is not about ticking boxes or meeting quotas, but it is about creating an inclusive environment where people from diverse backgrounds can feel valued and respected for their unique perspectives. Jemison speaks on this, likely referring to schools like Stanford which she attended. She continues on highlighting the need for black people to embrace their identity and be proud of their heritage. She shared how she faced discrimination and prejudice throughout her career, but her confidence in her identity as a black woman gave her the strength to overcome those obstacles. Her experiences as a black person have also shaped her perspectives and informed her decisions as a leader and astronaut.

Freedom on my Mind offers an insightful conversation on the intersection of race and gender as barriers to success. One quote that stands out and relates to this theme is “You can’t be what you can’t see.” This quote emphasizes the importance of representation and its ability to inspire young people to pursue their passions and dreams. The quote connects to Jemison’s early experience in kindergarten when her teacher failed to believe in her aspiration to become a scientist, instead suggesting that she should pursue a career as a nurse. This incident highlights how societal expectations based on race and gender can restrict individuals’ ambitions and discourage them from pursuing their passions.

Similarly, another quote from the text that relates to the theme of perseverance is, “Don’t give up, don’t give in, and don’t let anyone break you.” This quote echoes Jemison’s experience of being ignored by teachers in college, despite her obvious intelligence and eagerness to learn. Jemison persisted despite these setbacks, earning a degree in engineering from Stanford University and eventually becoming an astronaut. Her story is a testament to the power of resilience in the face of adversity, and it illustrates the importance of never giving up on one’s dreams. During the panel discussion, the core narratives and themes revolved around Jemison’s extraordinary journey as a black woman in the field of science. Her experience as an EMT and working seven days a week while applying to Stanford University illustrates the value of hard work and dedication. She did not let any obstacles stand in her way, and her perseverance eventually paid off. Furthermore, Jemison’s dedication to education and pursuit of knowledge are themes that run throughout her life and career. She took numerous African-American-based courses in college and credits her diverse education with giving her the tools she needed to succeed.

The discussion also brought attention to the impact of race and gender on Jemison’s journey and the challenges that women and people of color face in science and technology fields. These fields have been historically dominated by white men, and women and people of color are often underrepresented and undervalued. Jemison’s story serves as a reminder of the importance of breaking down these barriers and creating more opportunities for underrepresented groups in science and technology. Freedom on my Mind provides a thought-provoking discussion on race and gender as barriers to success, and the quotes from the text effectively connect to Jemison’s experience. Jemison’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance and education, as well as the importance of representation in inspiring young people to pursue their dreams. The panel highlighted the ongoing struggle for equality and representation in science and technology fields, where women and people of color face significant challenges. Jemison’s journey and the narratives and themes of the program are significant to our understanding of African American history because they showcase the ongoing struggle for equality and representation, and emphasize the importance of hard work, perseverance, and education in overcoming obstacles.

Moreover, Jemison’s journey speaks to the significance of representation in inspiring the next generation of leaders. Jemison discussed the impact of seeing someone who looked like her in space, and how it inspired her to pursue her dreams. This sentiment was echoed by the panelists who emphasized the importance of having role models and mentors who can guide and support young people on their journeys. The lack of representation in science and technology fields not only limits opportunities for underrepresented groups but also limits the potential for innovation and progress in these fields. Therefore, the importance of creating more opportunities and supporting diversity in these fields cannot be overstated.

The discussion on the impact of race and gender on Jemison’s journey also highlights the need for systemic change in society. The challenges that Jemison faced in pursuing her dreams are not unique to her but are shared by many individuals from underrepresented groups. The panelists emphasized the importance of addressing systemic inequalities that limit opportunities for women and people of color, including lack of access to education, discrimination in hiring and promotion, and limited representation in leadership positions. By addressing these issues, society can create a more inclusive and equitable future where everyone has the opportunity to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential.

In addition, Jemison’s story is a reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and representation in African American history. Her accomplishments as the first Black woman in space are a testament to the resilience and determination of the African American community in the face of adversity. The themes of perseverance, hard work, and education that were emphasized in the panel discussion are also central to the African American experience. Throughout history, African Americans have faced systemic barriers to achieving their goals, but they have persevered and made significant contributions to society. Jemison’s journey serves as a symbol of this resilience and a source of inspiration for future generations.

In conclusion, Dr. Mae C. Jemison’s story and contributions to science were the focus of a panel discussion that explored the themes of perseverance, the power of education, and the impact of race and gender on success. Our text, Freedom on my Mind quotes on the importance of representation and perseverance connect to Jemison’s journey and serve as a reminder of the ongoing challenges that women and people of color face in pursuing their passions. The narratives and themes of the program are significant to our understanding of African American History because they provide us with a lens through which we can view the experiences of black women in STEM fields. Dr. Jemison’s story highlights the importance of representation and access to education for marginalized communities. Her journey shows us that with determination, hard work, and support from others, it is possible to break down the barriers that limit our potential.


Works Cited

Thompson, Kenneth. “Politics and the Fight for Jobs.” Freedom on My Mind: A 

History of African Americans with Documents, edited by Deborah Gray White et al., 

Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013, pp. 910-914.

Black History USD Project – Tiffany Nicholas

Tiffany Nicholas

May 12, 2023

African American History

Professor Channon Miller

Black History LGBTQ+ and Literature for the Future

For the Black History at USD Project, I decided to attend the San Diego Public Library for The Black LGBTQ+ Human Book Experience on February 11th of this year. This event sought to bring about greater understanding, empathy, and acceptance of diverse identities and perspectives within the Black LGBTQ+ community. Through this unique format, participants can engage in one-on-one conversations with “human books,” people who share their experiences and stories of being a part of the Black LGBTQ+ community. As an LGBTQ+ individual, being able to participate in this beautiful event meant a lot to me. The Black LGBTQ+ Human Book Experience and the works of African American writers and poets demonstrate the power of literature and poetry in promoting empathy, understanding, and social change, particularly within marginalized communities. Through their stories and experiences, these individuals challenge stereotypes and misconceptions, assert their identities, and highlight the resilience and strength of the Black LGBTQ+ community, contributing to the ongoing progression of African American history.

Historically, literature and poetry have been used by African Americans as a means of expressing their struggles, experiences, and aspirations, as well as challenging societal norms and injustices. In the case of the Black LGBTQ+ community, literature and poetry play a similarly important role in providing a platform for voices that are often silenced or ignored.

One of the “human books” at the Black LGBTQ+ Human Book Experience was Angel Maya, a trans activist, and educator. Maya shared her experiences of navigating life as a Black trans woman, including the challenges she faced in accessing modern human necessities like healthcare, employment, and housing. Through her poetry and spoken word performances, Maya emphasized the importance of self-love and self-acceptance and the need for greater understanding and support for the Black trans community.

Shanelle Johnson, another “human book” at the event, shared her experiences as a Black lesbian mother. Johnson’s poetry explored the complexities of navigating multiple identities and societal expectations, as well as the importance of building community and finding joy in everyday life. Through her poetry, Johnson highlighted the resilience and strength of the Black LGBTQ+ community, and the power of storytelling as a means of creating connection and understanding. Brittany Hayes, a bisexual writer, and activist, was also a “human book” at the event. Hayes shared her experiences of growing up in a conservative, religious household and coming to terms with her sexuality. Through her writing, Hayes explores themes of identity, community, and belonging, and challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about bisexuality. Hayes’ work highlights the importance of representation and visibility, both within and outside of the Black LGBTQ+ community.

Together, these “human books” demonstrate the power of literature and poetry as a means of promoting understanding, empathy, and social change. By sharing their stories and experiences, they are not only challenging stereotypes and misconceptions but also inspiring others to speak out and create change in their own communities.

Through what was learned this semester, literature and even poetry have a long and rich history within the African American community. From the slave narratives of the 19th century to the Harlem Renaissance of the early 20th century. According to Freedom on My Mind, “fresh forms of expression in literature, the visual arts, dance, and music affirmed black identity and culture and gained recognition for black creativity in American culture.” (Freedom On My Mind 2020, 679). African Americans have used literature and poetry as a means of telling their own stories and asserting their own identities. In the 1950s, The Civil Rights Movement created a revitalization of African American literary and artistic expression, with writers such as James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and even female writer Maya Angelou using their work to challenge racism and inequality. For example, in modern times today, the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked a renewed interest in literature and poetry as a means of promoting social justice and change. Correspondingly, within the Black LGBTQ+ community, literature, and poetry have become important means of promoting visibility, representation, and understanding. Writers and poets such as Audre Lorde and Danez Smith have explored themes of sexuality, gender, and identity, and challenged stereotypes and misconceptions about LGBTQ+ people of color. Events such as the Black LGBTQ+ Human Book Experience provide a platform for these voices and create opportunities for dialogue and understanding within the community. Through literature and poetry, African Americans have been able to tell their own stories and assert their own identities, challenging societal norms and injustices. This is particularly true for the Black LGBTQ+ community, where literature and poetry provide a means of promoting visibility, representation, and understanding.

The Black LGBTQ+ Human Book Experience is an example of how literature and poetry can be used to promote empathy and understanding within a community. By sharing their stories and experiences, the “human books” at the event are challenging stereotypes and misconceptions, and inspiring others to speak out and create change in their own communities. The event provides an opportunity for individuals to engage in one-on-one conversations with members of the Black LGBTQ+ community, fostering a greater understanding of the diverse identities and perspectives within the community. Literature as a whole has played an important role in shaping African American culture in the United States. It has been a means of expressing the experiences, thoughts, and emotions of African Americans and has helped to shape their identity. One of the earliest records of African American literature was the slave narrative and these autobiographical works told the stories of formerly enslaved individuals and offered a firsthand account of the brutality and dehumanization of slavery. They were a powerful tool for abolitionists, helping to mobilize public opinion against the institution of slavery and promoting the cause of abolition. As Deborah Gray White notes in “Freedom On My Mind,” slave narratives “drew attention to the horrors of slavery and provided evidence of the intellectual and emotional capacities of Black people” (Freedom On My Mind 2020, 59).

Another important genre of African American literature was the Harlem Renaissance which I touched on earlier. This cultural movement, which took place in the 1920s and 1930s, was characterized by a flourishing of African American literature, music, and art. It was a time when African Americans were asserting their own cultural identity and challenging stereotypes and misconceptions. As Waldo E. Martin Jr. notes in “Freedom On My Mind,” the Harlem Renaissance “represented the first time that Black artists and intellectuals were able to speak for themselves, in their own voices, without white intermediaries” (Freedom On My Mind 2020, 257). One of the most significant figures of the Harlem Renaissance was Langston Hughes, whose works captured the vibrancy and complexity of African American life during this time. In his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Hughes writes: 

“I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.” (The Negro Speaks of Rivers, 1921) 

This is a powerful poem and a celebration of African American history and identity and serves as an example of how literature helped to shape African American culture during the Harlem Renaissance. In addition to the Harlem Renaissance, literature played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s through the 1960s. Writers and poets such as James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and Amiri Baraka used their works to advocate for racial equality and civil rights. As Mia Bay notes in “Freedom On My Mind,” “literature played a central role in mobilizing support for the movement, creating a sense of shared identity and common purpose among activists and supporters” (Freedom On My Mind 2020, 523). One of the most significant works of literature from this time was Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time.” In this book, Baldwin offers a powerful critique of racism in America and advocates for a vision of racial justice and equality. As Waldo E. Martin Jr. notes in “Freedom On My Mind,” “Baldwin’s book challenged white Americans to confront the reality of racism and its impact on the lives of African Americans” (Freedom On My Mind 2020, 547). In contemporary times, literature continues to shape African American culture and identity. Works by authors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jesmyn Ward offer a powerful exploration of the ongoing struggles faced by African Americans, while poets such as Claudia Rankine and Jericho Brown offer a powerful critique of racism and injustice in America today. As Mia Bay notes in “Freedom On My Mind,” “literature continues to play a significant role in shaping African American identity, promoting empathy and understanding, and advocating for social change” (Freedom On My Mind 2020, 605). From slave narratives to contemporary works, literature has helped to express the experiences, thoughts, and emotions of African Americans, and has been a means of promoting empathy, understanding, and social change.

Overall, The Black LGBTQ+ Human Book Experience and the exploration of literature and poetry within the African American community simply demonstrates the power of storytelling as a means of promoting social change. Through literature and poetry, marginalized communities are able to assert their own identities, challenge societal norms and injustices, and create greater understanding and empathy within their communities. As we continue to grapple with issues of racism, inequality, and systemic oppression, it is important that we continue to use literature and poetry as a means of promoting understanding and social change.

Work Cited

The Black LGBTQ+ Human Book Experience, February 11, 2023 

Hughes, Langston. “The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes.” Poetry Foundation, 1921. 

White, Deborah Gray, Mia Bay, and Waldo E. Martin, Jr. Freedom on My Mind. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2020. BibliU version.

“Black Self-Identification during the Times of Anonymity” – RJ Parry

The lack of identity in the time of the “old negro”, during the Harlem Renaissance, has created the narrative to spark the significance of selfhood that made black americans redefine oneself. Instances of self-determination and black pride are created from the birth of the “New Negro” impacting America. These events are expressed through the emergence of black self-identity during times of sentimentalism, power of imagination, and the emergence of the new negro. The Harlem Renaissance created a platform where New Negro leaders and celebrities were centered and the upbringing of black newspapers in the era. I reference University of San Diego Humanities Center youtube channel where the host, Jamall Calloway Ph.D Department of Theology and Religious Studies introduces Souls of Black Folks – Harlem Renaissance, and Dr. Corey Barnes PhD, Department of Philosophy at USD. 

A great depiction of how the normalization of racial injustice was met, can be presented in Langston Hughes’ poem I too, “I too sing america, I am the darker brother they send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes but I laugh and I eat well and grow strong, tomorrow I’ll be at the table when company comes, nobody’ll dare say to me go eat in the kitchen, then they’ll see how beautiful we are and they will be ashamed, I too am America.” (Langston Hughes, I Too, 1926). Langston uses descriptive pronouns, they, to depict the plethora of white:  interactions, events, and social stances African Americans have faced. As an black national activist, Langston Hughes uses his platform for the black audience craving black identity, as he challenges the morals of white america while referencing the emergence of the “new negro”. Dr. Corey Barnes depicts what the “new negro” stands for, “The new negro, promoted the psychological deposition of the black person who would come to possess certain drives and abilities.” (Dr. Corey Barnes, Souls of Black Folks – Harlem Renaissance). These drives and abilities during the time of racial neglect, creates the stepping stones for the future of the next Black Americans. To first see the impact on how self-identity and self-recovery has on a nation within a nation we first need to understand the origins of the “old negro”. Elaine Locke a figure of the father of the harlem renaissance, with a Ph.D in philosophy from Harvard states, “The Old negro had long become more a myth than a man or woman.” (Dr. Corey Barnes on Elaine Locke, Souls of Black Folks – Harlem Renaissance) Dr. Corey Barnes elaborates on the effects on how myths can affect the black community in America, “Being a stock figure perpetuated historical fiction partly an innocent sentimentalism partly in deliberate reactionism…Sentimentalist have produced a imagine as black as a childlike figure who required white sympathy for his or her play, without which he or she could not stand or live, bought out to simianized caricature setup to unjustify the treatment of the negro. The negro should not be allowed to stand or live.” (Dr. Corey Barnes, Souls of Black Folks – Harlem Renaissance). The idea of white sympathy correlates to being a controller in American society. An example of white sympathy can be found through the white sentimentalist racial ideology that strays away from where black society thrives, promoting sensitive ideas, emotions, and polices. This bolsters white control over America can be referenced in Freedom on My Mind, “At the turn of the century, white supremacists devised new laws that required segregation in schools and public places, demeaning blacks and circumscribing their participation in the economic, social, and political life of the South.” (Freedom on My Mind by Deborah Gray White, Mia Bay, and Waldo E. Martin Jr, Chapter 10) 

Jamall Calloway raises the question on Souls of Black Folks – Harlem Renaissance episode of the USD Humanities Center Youtube, what connects the parts of philosophy that underlines black commitment? Dr. Corey Barnes references the power of culture through the great migration, “More than half a million black people migrated from the south to the west, the migration put blacks in greater contact with themselves and where more culture products were more easily access, thus more of an emphasis of culture itself, a blending of world views and both a clash and a sharing of culture products and strategies for racial uplift“ This uplift disproves that idea of white sentimentalism is an effective strategy for the American society. As Elaine Locke stated, “the old negro had long become more a myth than a man or women.” This now myth of the old negro can be proven due to black: institutions, culture, letters, and articles because of the new emergence of the New negro. Nathaniel huggins tells us, “by the end of the war in 1919 african-americans notice that the negro of post-war america was going to be much more militant than his pre-war brother“ (Dr. Corey Barnes on Nathaniel Huggins, Souls of Black Folks – Harlem Renaissance). These parts connect communities and inspire hope, a large part of the Harlem renaissance movement are the Black newspapers. Floyd G. Snelson a black editor of Churches states, “Don’t think that New York is your home, because you have been here before, and you have friends here– it is not mentioned once in Heaven.. Don’t come here unless you have MONEY to pay your way – your friends and relatives are not able to take care of you – they are hardly able to take care of themselves… because when your money gives out, your welcome is gone… Don’t expose your money, or let anybody know your personal affairs… “(Negro Capital of the Nation, 1939) I picked this quote, as Snelson is promoting that the successful life in Harlem, New York isn’t easy, and once you think you have made it: events, politics, friends, family, and other factors can change your once fortunate situation to fade away. Snelson is blunt and real because when resistance occurs it’s not a joke. Snelson addresses that being comfortable in America can change fast. Government and policies in America lessened black accommodation and increased political agitation. John Hope Franklin, historian specialized in African American history states “That the negro had achieved a level of articulation that made it possible for them to transform their feelings into a variety of literary forms, majority of african americans didn’t have the ability to read to write, not yet understand their power to capture the imagination of others in the world, however in the mid 1900s more african americans on harlem had exposure to letters and literature, one might imagine that these had the impact on imagination terms of inquisitiveness or creativity but also in its use for social and political uplift.”(Dr. Corey Barnes on John Hope Franklin, Souls of Black Folks – Harlem Renaissance) Promotion of black voices with powers of imagination can create a much needed push for black education, our lecture states, “The development of institutions committed to the social scientific and historical study of the conditions of Black Lives and communities – and affiliated academic journals, magazines, and publications… aimed to establish universal, cross-regional Black Liberation/emancipation, race pride, and solidarity.” (Week 12, HIST-128 African American History) 

Black ideology, culture, and persistence has achieved greatness during arbitrary America. “We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too.” – Langston Hughes (Week 12, HIST-128 African American History). As Hughes puts it, the expression of black identity is beautiful and benefits society. Whether white society can create laws, policies, or media prohibiting black expansion black elegance will always bleed through. I’d like to prompt Hughes’ use of “tomorrow” in the poem I too. While Langston makes the point of, “tomorrow I’ll be at the table” tomorrow doesn’t directly correlate with its definition. This term tomorrow alludes to a time in the future in which black and white people are equal. I question when the time where black and white will be equal, but birth of the “new negro” impacts the future black generations to come.


Works Cited

Hughes, L. (n.d.). I, too, by Langston Hughes. Poetry Foundation.

Souls of Black Folks – Harlem Renaissance. (2021). YouTube. Retrieved May 2023, from  

White, D. G., Bay, M., & Martin, W. E. (2021). Freedom on my mind: A history of African Americans, with documents. Bedford/St. Martins.   

Snelson, F. G. (n.d.). Negro capital of the nation. Churches. Retrieved from .  

Blog – Cory Killip

I will be writing my blog about the “Black Present and Presence – Ubiquitous Black Ideologies & Conceptions of Art” Lecture presented by Dr. Susie Bhaka (Department of Theology and Religious Studies at University of San Diego), and Dr. Corey Barnes (Department of Philosophy at University of San Diego). This lecture aimed to highlight historical African American communal traditions, ideologies, and arts practiced throughout recent history. Doctrines discussed in this lecture allow us to deeply analyze, empathize with, provide insight and detail to, and better understand African American History.

One of the Main topics from the lecture was the Black Aesthetic Experience. The Black Aesthetic Experience is a term used to describe the cultural and artistic expressions of black people throughout history. It encompasses a wide range of creative practices, including literature, music, visual art, theater, dance, and film, and is rooted in the historical experiences of black people. One example of the Black Aesthetic discussed in the lecture described in detail how black people on slave ships would cut each other’s hair in order to maintain a certain look. According to John Gabriel Stedman who was a white oppressionist aboard one of these slave ships, “All slaves are led upon deck, where they are examined by the purchasers, who are very attentive to their persons. Here they are also separated from their companions and relations, with whom they had been brought on board. The next step is to shave off all the hair from their heads…, their hair being made into different figures, such as stars, half-moons, etc. which they generally do one to the other, having no razors, by the help of a broken bottle, and without soap”. Even without the proper equipment and in extremely poor living conditions, the black people still made it a priority to cut their hair and preserve their cultural aesthetic. This dedication conveys how important cultural practices and expressing themselves was to them. A quote from The Birth of American-American Culture: An Anthropological Perspective by Sidney Mintz and Richard Price, summed this up perfectly. It reads, “It is hard to imagine a more impressive example of irrepressible cultural vitality than this image of slaves decorating one another’s hair in the midst of one of the most dehumanizing experiences in all of history”. This goes to show the resilience and creativity of enslaved people that showed through even in the face of extreme oppression.

Another main topic in the lecture was ubiquitous cultural vitality that was practiced in everyday life for African Americans. An important artistic part of this culture was song and dance. An example of the artistic practices highlighted in the video was something called the “Ring Shout”. The Ring shout involves a group of people moving in a circular motion while singing and dancing to music being played. The participants would frequently be dressed in all white and “moved counterclockwise while shuffling their feet, clapping, singing, calling out, or praying aloud.”(FOMM 370) Africans who practiced the ring shout were able to uphold their cultural customs and proclaim their religious beliefs. Though Ring Shout proves to be a good example of a specific artistic cultural practice, zooming out, The significance of singing and dancing as a whole was extremely important to black people. It served as an outlet for expression and a release of suppressed feelings. Slaves could express their pleasure, sadness, hope, and anguish through song and dance in a therapeutic and liberating way. Additionally, it contributed to the development of a sense of camaraderie and solidarity among slaves, who frequently felt alone and alienated throughout their captivity. It also served as a form of resistance against their masters. Many of the songs and dances included cryptic undertones and secret meanings that alluded to the longing for independence and the optimism for a brighter future that provided them with the hope they needed to keep going. Slaves may speak with one another without their masters hearing them by singing and dancing together. Not to mention, song and dance allowed African Americans to teach, practice, and preserve cultural traditions for generations to come. A quote included in the lecture that describes how powerful black music was states, “Black music is not artistic creation for its own sake, rather it tells us about the thinking and feeling of the African People, and the kinds of mental adjustments they had to make in order to survive in an alien land. The work songs were a means of heightening energy, converting labor into dances and games. Providing emotional excitement in an otherwise unbearable situation. The emphasis was on free continuous creative energy as produced in song.”(James Cone). 

The last main topic from the lecture was the contrast between black aesthetics and white aesthetics. In the last few hundred years in America, beauty and art have been looked upon using the “white yardstick of civilization”(Bell Hooks). Essentially, what was thought of as beautiful or valuable art was determined by white people and toward other white people. The black aesthetic valued the beauty of imperfections, the roughness of the unpolished, and the authenticity of raw emotion, whereas the white aesthetic frequently favored formal beauty and idealized portrayals of reality. The white aesthetic tended to be more independent and secular in character, whereas the black aesthetic was frequently deeply linked to social and spiritual experiences. This gap between what both races valued was large and resulted in the dominant white majority completely disregarding black art as a form of art, just because it was different than what the whites were used to. According to Cornel West, “The authority of science, undergirded by modern philosophical discourse, promotes and encourages activities of observing, comparing, measuring, and ordering the physical characteristics of human bodies. Forms of rationality and science prohibited the legitimacy of black equality and beauty culture and intellectual capacity to think about black and white equally was deemed irrational, barbaric or mad”. Another similar quote by Bell Hooks from the lecture reads, “art in black communities intrinsically serves a political function. Whatever African Americans in music, dance, poetry, painting, was regarded as a testimony bearing witness challenging racist thinking which suggested that black folks are not fully human, were uncivilized, and that the measure of this was our collective failure to create great art”. These quotes provide an idea of how oppressed black art and the black aesthetic was in society. Despite extreme oppression in pretty much all facets of life, black people continued to practice their artistic culture or aesthetic and didn’t let the attitude of the masses stop them. Ultimately the difference between the black aesthetic and white aesthetic is significant in understanding the historical context of how white supremacy shaped the dominant cultural narratives and aesthetics in America, while also recognizing the resilience and creativity of black people in the face of systemic oppression.

In conclusion, the lecture on “Black Present and Presence – Ubiquitous Black Ideologies & Conceptions of Art” presented by Dr. Susie Bhaka and Dr. Corey Barnes sheds light on the historical and cultural significance of the Black Aesthetic Experience, the ubiquitous cultural vitality of everyday life for African Americans, and the contrast between black aesthetics and white aesthetics. By examining these topics, we can gain a better understanding of the resilience, creativity, and cultural vitality of black people, who were able to preserve their cultural traditions and express their feelings through art, despite facing systemic oppression which ultimately gives us a better opportunity to understand and empathize with African American history as a whole. It is essential to acknowledge the value of the black aesthetic as a unique and significant artistic expression that deserves recognition and respect in its own right. Furthermore, we must continue to learn about and appreciate the cultural contributions of black people, as we strive towards a more equitable and just society.

“‘Red Lip Theology’ & Black Womanhood in Contemporary Christianity” -Lauren Forsterer

On February 27th, my fellow peers and I gathered into our very own Copley Library to hear Candice Marie Benbow discuss her latest book. Her novel,“Red Lip Theology”, discusses the blurring boundary of irreverent and righteous, and her experience in Christian faith as a Black woman. The book dives deep into the cross-section between Theology, feminism, sexuality, and activism. She gracefully discussed her experience and beliefs regarding her Faith, as well as what steps we can all take to help benefit minorities, especially Black women. She dives into her background of how being a Black millennial woman who is of Faith has shaped her understanding of the world. She also discusses the power of religious institutes, and the importance of decolonizing Faith in order to create a more understanding and accepting space. 

Benbow starts off her talk explaining her experience as a Black woman trying to navigate the Christian faith. Her speech takes place between the cusp of February and March, which she explains is an interesting time for her community. February is Black History Month where Black women are not represented, and figures like Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King are at the forefront of the movement. Then, in March, Women’s History Month is celebrated which fails to highlight the hardwork and dedication of Black women in the Women’s Rights Movement. In her talk, the author also highlights how Black women are never heralded as the forerunner of religious history, even though they are extremely influential. For example, Prathia Hall created the famous “I have a Dream” phrase that Dr. King showcased in 1963, and is still taught and commended around the globe. If it were not for Reverend Prathia Hall’s work, the speech’s central message would have never made it to the public and affected the Civil Rights Movement. Benbow also mentions a few other influential women that are forgotten in our History, such as Jarena Lee and Julia A. J. Foote. Both of these women, and many more, do not get the recognition they deserve for their trailblazing work over their lifetimes. This is a prime example of how Black women are left out of African American history and do not receive the recognition they deserve. Before listening to Benbow’s talk, I also did not recognize these powerful women’s names and did not understand their impact on our world. This also illustrates how Black women are also not as recognized for their accomplishments, and therefore is significant to our understanding of African American History in seeing a more equal and inclusive narrative of the influential scholars who fought to create a better world for future generations. 

Another aspect that Benbow highlights in her talk is the complexity of modern day religious institutions. The operation of Church spaces are important to understand African American History because religion is a huge component in the past and present of uniting and establishing Black communities. Our textbook, Freedom on My Mind,  states in Chapter Nine that, “Next to the family, the black church provided the most important institutional support in the transition from slavery to freedom. Joining a church was an act of physical and spiritual emancipation and.. also empowered blacks because they operated outside white control. In addition, black churches anchored collective black identification — a sense of peoplehood, of nationhood” (White, 2020). This quote highlights the importance of religious institutions in Black history, and how closely tied they are to culture and community. However, Benbow suggests that some modern religious establishments are not as inviting and empowering as they are promised to be. The author explains how faith spaces have the power to build you up, as well as tear you down with shame and guilt. This evaluates how religious institutes are operating today, and how they can sometimes feel isolating and distressing. 

Benbow posed a provocative question during her talk regarding whether or not we owe it to sacred spaces to push them to be better for future generations, or if we should choose to all together disconnect from the establishment. Her question illustrates the importance of religion in African American culture, and how it should evolve with modern times, rather than not accepting new courses of actions. For example, the author mentions in her talk an experience her Mother had with the Church that changed the trajectory of both her and her daughter’s life. Benbow describes that her Mother was unmarried when she was conceived, and the Church obligated her Mother to stand in front of the congregation and apologize for her sins. Benbow’s Father was also involved in the Church, and did not have to ask for forgiveness for his part of the sin.

Her Mother then refused to beg for forgiveness because she didn’t want her daughter to grow up in a church that was shameful and unfair towards women. Benbow reminds the audience that although her Mother did not apologize for her sin, many other women before and after her have to take on the opposition. This personal experience from the author helps highlight the relationship between Black women and the Church, and how it has not always had their best interest in mind. It is important to evaluate the mandates enforced by religious institutions over African American history in order to see the progress of accepting and recognizing Black women. 

Benbow also discusses her view on deconstructing Faith in order to create the space for herself and many other Black women to be acknowledged for their devotion within their denomination. The author explains how Black women are the most religious demographic, yet they are the least significant group rendered in most religious establishments. She aims to embody a Faith that loves and accepts Black women. Religion is essential in understanding African American history because its roots run deep into Black culture. For example, “the sense that devotion and faith in God more strongly connect black men and women to their slave ancestors, who leaned on religious faith to help maintain their dignity in the face of discrimination and harsh and unjust treatment” (Labbé-DeBose, 2012). This quote demonstrates the importance of Faith within the daily lives of African American individuals throughout the generations, and how it intertwines their experience and livelihood. The author emphasizes the need for a more inclusive Faith in order to keep her community united and satisfied. 

For hundreds of years, Black women have strongly influenced religion and culture in and outside of their community, with little to no recognition of their hard work. Candice Marie Benbow’s talk at our University enlightened myself, and many other students on her journey of modern Black womanhood, and the challenges she and her community experience within their daily lives as well as their Faith. The author shared with the audience that she got inspired to write her book to further examine the question of what is owed to Black women for their devoted religiosity, and how her community can shine. She also explains how deconstructing Faith and identifying the issues within her religion can help her community thrive.Her novel emphasizes the current relationship between Black womanhood and Christianity, and looks ahead to a turning point where her community is recognized and appreciated for their generations of dedication and diligence. 


Sources Cited

Labbé-DeBose, Theola. “Black Women Are among Country’s Most Religious Groups.” The Washington Post, 6 July 2012, 

White, Deborah Gray, Mia Bay, and Waldo E. Martin Jr. Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans with Documents, Third Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, (2020).

“A Luminary’s Journey: Mae C. Jemison’s Inspiring Story and its Significance in African American History”- Alaon Saulet

Alaon Saulet

Professor Miller 

African American History 

May 12, 2023 


On Wednesday, March 29th, I had the privilege of attending a Women’s History Month conference in the KIPJ Theater featuring Mae C Jemison, the first African American woman to enter space, as she was interviewed by USD professor Dr. Dominguez. As Jemison spoke, it was clear that she is a true trailblazer, having broken barriers throughout her career as a scientist and astronaut. During the conference, Jemison shared her journey, discussing her upbringing and the challenges she faced as a woman of color. Her insights and experiences were both thought-provoking and inspiring, and I found myself completely engrossed in her story. As Jemison spoke, she answered questions from Dr. Dominguez and the audience, providing even more insight into her rise to success. Not only was Jemison’s words inspiring as she recounted her story and accomplishments but it was also clear that her story is significant to our understanding of African American history, in several ways.

Breaking Boundaries: Dr. Mae Jemison’s Journey of Perseverance and Passion in African American History

First of all, Mae C Jemison is a Luminary in every sense of the word. As she shared her success story, she inspired the audience to pursue their passions and never let societal expectations limit their potential. Jemison recounted her journey of starting young, joining Harvard University at the age of 16, and paving the way for many young women of color to pursue higher education. Here Jemison’s story demonstrates the importance of education and the pursuit of knowledge in African American history. Her early admission to Harvard University at the age of 16 highlights the power of education in overcoming systemic barriers and providing opportunities for upward mobility. 

     Dr. Jemison also shared how she maintained her passion for science and exploration, which led her to join the Peace Corps and go overseas. Her experiences in the Peace Corps showed her that there was more to life than just science, and she developed a passion for the arts and culture. She encouraged young women to explore their interests and not limit themselves to one field of study. Jemison’s work with the Peace Corps and her passion for the arts and culture highlight the multidimensional nature of African American experiences. African Americans have made significant contributions to various fields, including the arts, education, politics, and science. Jemison’s accomplishments and diverse interests serve as a reminder of the complexity and richness of African American history. 

When Dr. Jemison decided to pursue her dream of becoming an astronaut, she faced significant opposition from society and a fear of heights. However, she refused to let fear and societal expectations sway her judgment. As she stated, “What do we do with fear, we have to put it in context.” She encouraged women to challenge themselves and take risks regardless of the fear that is present. Instead of letting fear win, she put her fear in context and used it as a tool to propel herself forward. This mindset allowed her to achieve her goal of becoming the first African American woman to travel to space.

Here Dr. Jemison’s message was clear – pursue what you ultimately want to do and don’t let anyone take you off that path. She articulated how she made some of her life choices by taking the next step, leaving where she was, and/or starting something new. She emphasized the importance of taking risks and following your passion, even when it is not the most conventional path. Dr. Jemison’s words serve as a powerful reminder that success and fulfillment come from fulfilling and following one’s passions. Jemison’s message of pursuing one’s passions and staying true to oneself is also a significant part of African American history. Throughout history, African Americans have had to overcome obstacles and societal constraints to pursue their dreams and passions. Jemison’s determination and conviction in pursuing her dream of becoming an astronaut exemplify this spirit of perseverance and self-determination.

The Power of Breaking Down Stereotypes and Challenging Societal Limitations

One example that effectively conveyed Jemison’s message is when she told a story she remembers when she was young and she recalls a time in school when a teacher asked what she wanted to be. Jemison had said she wanted to be a scientist, to which the teacher replied “don’t you mean a nurse.” Jemison explained how she knew that the teacher was just trying to guide her to her best career as African American woman, but then encourages the audience not to fall into a category that people put you in, but to instead know that you have the choice to do whatever you want. In this statement, Jemison is acknowledging the good intentions of her teacher who tried to guide her towards a career that was suitable for African American women. However, she also emphasizes the importance of not limiting oneself to a particular category or stereotype that people may try to put them in. Jemison’s message is that individuals should have the freedom and agency to pursue their dreams and aspirations, regardless of their race, gender, or any other societal label. She believes that everyone should be encouraged to explore their interests and talents, without being confined to preconceived notions of what they should or shouldn’t do. Jemison’s own life and career serve as a testament to this message. As the first African American woman to travel to space, she broke down barriers and defied expectations, demonstrating that anyone can achieve their goals with hard work and determination. Jemison’s statement encourages individuals to recognize and challenge societal limitations and stereotypes, and to pursue their passions with the confidence that they have the power to shape their destiny. 

 The Resonating Messages of Mae C. Jemison and the Struggles of Black Women and Men in Overcoming Societal Norms and Achieving Success

As Mae C. Jemison spoke and answered questions, she constantly focused on the theme of breaking free from societal categories and pursuing one’s passions and dreams, regardless of what others may say or think. She emphasized that people should not let others define them or limit their potential based on their gender, race, or any other category they may belong to. This message aligns with the struggles and triumphs of the black women highlighted in Chapter 16 of Freedom on My Mind, who fought against similar societal expectations and restrictions.

In Chapter 16, the authors highlight the experiences of black women who fought against the intersectional oppression they faced as both black and female in American society. These women fought for their rights and recognition as individuals with agency and the ability to determine their paths, despite facing significant obstacles and opposition. For example, Ida B. Wells fought against the lynching of black men and women and worked to expose the injustice and violence of the practice, while Mary Church Terrell fought for women’s suffrage and equal access to education and job opportunities.

Jemison’s message of individual agency and self-determination resonates with the struggles of these black women, who refused to be confined to societal categories and expectations. Their examples inspire us to break free from these constraints and pursue our passions and dreams with determination and courage as Jemison did. 

As I analyze Jemison’s experience and speech another exemplary figure of black resistance from the documentary, A Choice of Weapons; Inspired by Gordan Parks, comes to mind. This exemplary figure is Gordon Parks, a photographer working during the Harlem Renaissance. Parks was the first black man to work for LIFE Magazine as well as have his work published on the front cover. Park’s photography captured the black experience and narratives, a perspective that fought to reject the white imaginary that perpetuated stereotypes, violence, and discrimination. Overall Parks broke societal barriers as he challenged systemic prejudices in his field. 

Gordon Parks and Mae C Jemison both show that barriers can be broken as African Americans defy societal norms and achieve success by pursuing their passions, breaking down barriers, and overcoming systemic and institutional challenges. Both Parks and Jemison defied societal norms and challenged systemic and institutional barriers to achieve success in their respective fields. They serve as role models for future generations and demonstrate that with hard work, dedication, and a willingness to challenge the status quo, barriers can be broken and dreams can be achieved regardless of race, gender, or social background. 

Overall Impact of Mae C Jemison’s Life and Career on African American History

In conclusion, attending the Women’s History Month conference featuring Mae C Jemison was a truly inspiring and thought-provoking experience. Hearing Dr. Jemison answers questions about her life and success truly inspires her, making her the luminary that she is. Dr. Jemison’s life and career serve as a reminder of the importance of education and the pursuit of knowledge, as well as the multidimensional nature of African American experiences and accomplishments. Her message of perseverance, determination, and self-determination was clear throughout the conference and serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of pursuing one’s passions and staying true to oneself. As the first African American woman to travel to space, Jemison broke down barriers and defied expectations, demonstrating that anyone can achieve their goals with hard work and determination. Her story and insights are significant to our understanding of African American history, and her legacy serves as a source of inspiration for generations to come.

Works Cited 


Maggio, J, (Producer). (2021). A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks [Documentary]. HBO Documentary Films 

White, D. G., Bay, M., & Martin, W. E. (2021). Freedom on my mind: A history of African Americans, with documents. Bedford/St. Martins.