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Anna T.S./Michal Scott: Her Life, Her Love, Her Legacy — The Ripple Effect of the Life of Coretta Scott King (Contest)
Sunday, January 15th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…bn100!
*~*~*

Born in the segregated South of Heilberger, Alabama in 1927, Coretta Scott’s early life was shaped by her family’s long history in fighting against racial injustice. In 1945, she entered Antioch College in Ohio to study music, all the while actively engaging in civil rights activity through the college’s Race Relations and Civil Liberties Committees and the local chapter of the NAACP.

She won a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music and moved to Boston in 1952. There she met Martin Luther King Jr. They married in 1953 in a ceremony in which she had the vow to obey her husband removed. After completing her degree in voice and piano in 1954, she moved with her husband to Montgomery, Alabama.

In 1968, she did not allow the tragedy of his assassination to stop her pursuit of justice. She established The King Center to advance his legacy and ideas. To make sure that legacy was not whitewashed, she fought to make sure quotes reflecting his stance on the Vietnam War were included in the King Memorial dedicated in Washington DC in 2011.

In the 1980s, she drew comparisons between the fight against apartheid and the Civil Rights Movement. After meeting with Winnie Mandela and Allan Boesak, she came back to the US and urged then-President Regan to approve economic sanctions against South Africa.

In 1983, she urged amending the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians as a protected class. She called on the civil rights community to join in the struggle against homophobia and anti-gay bias in 1993. In 2003, she made history by inviting the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to take part in observances of the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington and her husband’s “I Have A Dream Speech.” It was the first time that an LGBTQIA rights group had been invited to a major event of the African-American community.

Having been an advocate for peace as early as 1957 when she helped found The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, it came as no surprise she spoke out against the attack on Iraq in 1993. In 2004, the government of India awarded her the Gandhi Peace Prize.

In 2005, she allowed Antioch College to name a center after her. The Coretta Scott King Center for Cultural and Intellectual Freedom addresses issues of race, class, gender, diversity, and social justice. She received numerous awards and recognitions for her activism before she died in 2006.

Moneta Sleet Jr.’s Pulitzer prize winning image of Coretta’s stoic expression while she holds her youngest daughter on her lap during her husband’s funeral is indelibly branded in my memory. Yet, I hope you can see from what I just shared that she enhanced that dignified image by living the life of a courageous activist whose impact rippled across the nation and in the world.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share your thoughts on the life of Coretta Scott King or any courageous woman you admire.

Better To Marry Than To Burn by Michal Scott

Blurb: Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…

A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.

Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.

Excerpt:

“Our children?” She swiveled in her seat. “You made no mention of wanting children, just marital relations as necessary. I understood that to mean intercourse.”

“I wrote I wanted to leave a legacy.”

“A legacy. Not a dynasty.”

“Legacy. Dynasty. Is there really so sharp a distinction?”

“To my mind there is. I understood you meant to affect future generations—endow schools, found churches, create civic associations. I didn’t realize that meant children. I agreed to having sex, not having children.”

 “Of course I want children.” His brows grew heavy as he frowned. “Doesn’t having sex lead to having children?”

“Not with the right precautions.”

His frown deepened. “Precautions?”

“There are many ways to prevent your seed from taking root, Mr. King.”

“I want children, Mrs. King.”

Her lips twisted and her brow furrowed, but she kept her silence.

“All right,” she said. “You can have children with any woman you like. I won’t stop you. I free you from any claim to fidelity.”

“Legacy—or dynasty if you will—means legitimacy. No bastard will carry my name, not when I have a wife to bear me children.”

“I see.”

Her tone signaled she didn’t.

Buylink: https://amzn.to/2KTaGPH

Michal Scott: Continuing the Family Legacy: Sarah Jane Woodson Early (Contest)
Friday, December 16th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Misty Dawn!
*~*~*

Nowadays, we take for granted when women operate in public spaces. Many had to be the firsts to make the accomplishments women enjoy now possible. Sarah Jane Woodson Early was one such first.

Sarah Jane was born free in Chillicothe, Ohio on November 15, 1825. Her parents were formerly enslaved but were freed before moving to Ohio. They founded the first black Methodist church west of the Alleghenies. They also founded Berlin Crossings, a flourishing black farming community which by 1840 had its own school, stores and churches and served as a station on the Underground Railroad.

Since many of the Woodson’s eleven children went on to become ministers and educators, it comes as no surprise that Sarah, their youngest, chose a career in education. She enrolled in Oberlin College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1856. This made her one of the first black women in the US to graduate from college.

She taught in black community schools until Wilberforce University hired her to teach English in 1858. While denied the title of professor, teaching at Wilberforce made her the first African-American woman to hold the position of college instructor. When the college closed in 1862 because the Civil War started, Sarah taught in black public schools. The African Methodist Episcopal church purchased and reincorporated the college in 1863. Sarah was rehired in 1866 to teach English and Latin. This time she was officially given the title professor. In 1868 she left Wilberforce to teach at an African-American school for girls under the auspices of the Freedman’s Bureau in North Carolina. That same year she married Jordan Winston Early, an African Methodist Episcopal minister who had been enslaved. She taught wherever he preached and served as the principal of several schools in four different cities.

Although she retired from teaching in 1888 and with her husband moved to Nashville, she did not retire from activism. In 1888, the Colored Division of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union elected her to a four-year term as national superintendent. In this role she gave over 100 speeches. She was also an active representative of the state’s Prohibition Party. At the 1893 World’s Congress of Representative Women, she was one of only five African-American women invited to speak. In 1894 she wrote The Life and Labors of Rev. J.W. Early, One of the Pioneers of African Methodism in the West and South, a biography of her husband.

She died in 1907 at the age of 82. I read one article which stated that by the time Sarah retired she’d taught 6,000 children. I hope the life I’m leading through my writing will one day have such a ripple effect.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon card, comment on Sarah’s story or share a hope of yours about having an impact in your world.

One Breath Away by Michal Scott

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more. Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex. Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt from One Breath Away…  

The surprise of pleasure curved in her smile.

He gestured with his chin toward the pantskirt’s drawstring. “Is that bitty string the only thing keeping your pants up?”

She squirmed under his teasing gaze. “That’s all it has to do.”

“Looks kind of flimsy to me. Think it’ll hold if you help me with this last post?”

He pointed toward a column of wood. Somehow snapped in two, the top half of the post dangled from a fence rail while the bottom half peeked from the ground. The replacement he’d just finished chopping lay at his feet.

“What kind of hand do you need?”

“More leverage to pull that broken post out of the ground. I’m thinking if I tie one end of a rope to the post and the other end to your rear axle, I can shift it.”

“All right.” Mary slid to his side of the wagon then stood.

He raised his arms. “Allow me.”

She frowned and looked at him hard. “Allow you to what?”

He laughed. “To help you down.”

She fisted her hips. “Do I look like I need help? I’m no weakling.” She shooed him away and took a step. Her bootlace snagged on the edge of the seat. She shrieked and toppled into his arms.

He laughed. “Definitely not a weakling. Just clumsy.”

She clapped a hand to her throat and leaned back as far as his grip would allow. “Put me down.”

“Be careful when you tell a man to put you down. He might get the wrong idea.” He leaned forward so they were nose to nose. “Or the right one.”

She stilled. “I mean put me down so I can stand.”

His obedience pierced her with disappointment. She slid down his front and bumped against the proud welcome of his cock. She jumped back, embarrassed.

He looked down then spread his hands in apology. “Please forgive me, Miss Hamilton. You have an effect on me I just can’t hide.”

Buylink: https://amzn.to/2u5XQYY

Michal Scott: The Dream and the Hope of the Slave: Mary Eliza Mahoney 1845-1926 (Contest)
Wednesday, November 16th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Debra Guyette!
*~*~*

“I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”

When I read this line penned in Maya Angelou’s poem, “And Still I Rise,” the inspirational example of a woman like Mary Eliza Mahoney comes to my mind.

Mary was born in the spring of 1845 in Boston Massachusetts to former slaves. They had moved to Boston from North Carolina in search of a better life for themselves and their children.

At age ten, Mary attended the Phillips School, one of the first integrated schools in Boston. By eighteen, she knew she wanted to be a nurse and began working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. For fifteen years, she acted as janitor, cook, washerwoman, and finally as a nurse’s aide, where she got hands-on experience with the nursing profession. In 1878, at the age of thirty-three, Mary’s diligence and work ethic gained her admittance to the hospital’s professional graduate school for nursing, despite not meeting the age range criteria of being twenty-one to thirty-one. The program, which ran for sixteen months, offered lectures and first-hand experience in the hospital. Of the forty-two students that entered the program in 1878, Mary was one of four to graduate in 1879, making her the first African American in the US to earn a professional nursing license. Due to racial discrimination in the public sphere, Mary worked as a private care nurse, mostly, but not solely, for white wealthy families.

Because the nursing associations she was active in were not always welcoming to blacks, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses in 1908. The mission of the NACGN was to improve educational access for black women to nursing practices, raise their living standards, and change the poor perception society had of them. It existed until 1951 when it merged with the American Nurses Association.

In 1911, Mary became the director of the Howard Orphanage Asylum for black children in Kings Park, Long Island and served until 1912.

After forty years, she finally retired from nursing but not from advocacy. When the 19th Amendment was ratified in August 1920, Mahoney was among the first women who registered to vote in Boston.

Mary lived until she was eighty and died of breast cancer on January 4, 1926. Ten years later her achievements were honored by having an award named after her to recognize individual nurses or groups of nurses who promote integration in the nursing field. One of those honorees campaigned to have a monument erected in her honor. In 1973, the monument was dedicated at her gravesite. In 1993, Mary was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.

Many African-Americans, male and female—myself included—are the embodiments of the dreams and hopes of their enslaved ancestors. I’m glad to have learned of the dream and the hope that was Mary Eliza Mahoney.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share your thoughts on Mary’s story or on anyone you can think of who paved the way for others. 

One Breath Away

Sentenced to hand for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt…

He shouldn’t have agreed to the marriage stipulation, but Judah wouldn’t return the land to a bachelor. At the time marrying hadn’t entered Eban’s mind. Without Nora, he had no desire to leave a legacy anyway. And after sampling women of many races, Eban accepted he’d never marry. Then the stars changed his mind.

He glanced at them now. They shimmered as they had the night of that fateful watch. According to the first mate who swore by astrology, he’d perceived a special celestial alignment for Eban. The stars foretold a coupling resulting from a rescue in which Eban would meet his wife. Having found Mary, Eban knew that prophecy would be fulfilled.

“How could ya have believed ya heritage held no worth for ya without Nora?”

Eban blenched, though he shouldn’t have been surprised his aunt knew where his thoughts had gone and had headed him off at the pass.

He clucked his teeth. “To tell the truth—”

His aunt snorted. “That’d be a nice change.”

Eban frowned, but ignored the barb and continued. “I came home, not to reclaim Heart’s Ease, but to assuage my curiosity. Secretly I’d hoped to find Nora as miserable as I was. Then I met Mary.” Mary. He chuckled. “After meeting her, I see how short-sighted—how Esau-like—I’ve been.”

He glanced up again. “She’ll marry me, Clem. It’s written right there in the sky, and the stars don’t lie.”

Buylink: https://amzn.to/2u5XQY

Michal Scott: The First Female African-American Millionaire: Annie Turnbo Malone (Contest)
Monday, October 17th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Mary Preston!
*~*~*

If you were to say that Madame C.J. Walker was the first female African-American millionaire, you’d be wrong. Before Madame C.J. Walker there was Annie Turnbo Malone. The archives of the State Historical Society of Missouri records that Annie was a millionaire by the end of World War I.

Annie Turnbo was born free in 1869 of formerly enslaved parents in Metropolis, Illinois. She was raised by an older sister since her parents died when Annie was very young. Frequent illness kept her from graduating high school but did not stifle her interest in chemistry. She focused on creating hair care products for African American women that did not damage their hair and scalp.

By the turn of the century, she had created a hair care product for African-American women she called Great Wonderful Hair Grower and sold it door to door. Because of high demand for her product, she opened a retail outlet at the 1904 Chicago World’s Fair. As a matter of fact, Sarah Breedlove, aka Madame C.J. Walker worked for Annie as one of her salesforce. The rivalry between the two women has been dramatized in the movie Self Made. How accurately depends on who you ask.

Annie founded Poro College, which had its grand opening in 1918. The school specialized in the teaching and study of Black cosmetology. The college had thirty-two branches by the mid-1950s. She donated $25,000 to Howard University College of Medicine, $25,000 to start a Black YMCA in St. Louis and donated generously to the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home, which in 1946 was renamed after her.

Unfortunately, an ugly divorce, lawsuits, and tax problems plagued Annie’s later years.  Eventually, the federal government took over and sold her business for taxes. She died of a stroke in 1957. Fortunately, her home state has not forgotten her legacy of entrepreneurship and philanthropy. The annual Annie Malone May Day parade in St. Louis began in 1910, and children’s books like Wonderful Hair help keep Annie from being totally forgotten.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments your thoughts on Annie’s story or share about a woman in history you know of who needs to be given her place in the sun again.

Better To Marry Than To Burn

Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…

A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.

Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.

 
Excerpt from Better to Marry Than to Burn

Caesar sucked his teeth and crossed his arms. If white-sheeted Knights of the White Camellia hadn’t succeeded in running him off, neither would the Purity Patrol.

A tap on his left shoulder blade turned him around.

“You know what they’re saying is right, Caesar.”

He uncrossed his arms and took off his hat in deference to the tiny, wiry woman speaking to him.

“Not moving on is a betrayal of the past,” Mother Maybelle Jenkins said. “Ain’t you still a young man?”

A gentle chiding colored her tone. The compassion in her gaze slayed his resentment.

“Thirty, ma’am.”

“You was only twenty five when you and Emma arrived here?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She shook her head. “Well, the Bible tells us it’s not good for a man to be alone. Emma and your boys been gone five years now.”

Caesar patted her hand gently. Five years. Where had the time gone? Seemed like only yesterday he’d placed flowers on their graves for the first time.

“Don’t let heart-hurt rule you.” Mother Maybelle cupped his cheek. “A race without children is a race without a future.” 

Buylink: https://amzn.to/2KTaGPH

Michal Scott: Where There’s a Will There’s a Way — Josephine Napoleon Leary (Contest)
Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Debra Guyette!
*~*~*

Josephine was born into slavery in Williamston, NC around 1856, but was emancipated when she was nine. She married Archer Leary in 1873, moved to Edenton, N.C. and opened a barbershop. Without formal education, she taught herself about real estate and by 1881 owned six properties. Unfortunately, these properties were destroyed by fire in 1893. While others quit, Josephine rebuilt three of them in one building in 1894, which bears her name. You can see the building and a picture of Josephine here:

https://ehcnc.org/historic-places/museum-trail/museum-trail-1894-josephine-leary-building/

Josephine contracted cancer, forcing her to sell properties to pay for her medical care. She died in 1923. Native North Carolinian author Kianna Alexander learned about Josephine on twitter. In the preface to Carolina Built (it’s FREE in KU!), her 2022 fictionalized account of Josephine’s life, Alexander shares her amazement that she never heard of a businesswoman as accomplished as Josephine. At the time of her death, her estate was valued at $8,825, over $10 million in today’s dollars.

Her business papers are kept in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University. These papers, other primary sources and a forty-seven-page booklet, The Life and Legacy of Josephine Napoleon Leary, 1856-1923, written by North Carolinian historian Dorothy Spruill Redford aided Alexander in writing her novel.

Knowing she had a right to a better life, Josephine Napoleon Leary is just one of hundreds of former slaves that didn’t let oppression or deprivation keep them from achieving their dreams. They had the will, and they made a way.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share a dream of yours or a dream of someone you know that came true because where there’s a will there’s a way.

One Breath Away by Michal Scott

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt from One Breath Away

Eban grinned. “My shoe fits too.”

Life at sea had placed the philosopher’s shoe on him. He hadn’t the maturity or the patience for reflection before then. If he had, he wouldn’t have leased the family homestead to his cousin for get-out-of-town money. The lease would terminate provided he paid Judah back with interest within three years. Judah had smiled then, certain Eban wouldn’t be able to. Eban smiled now. He’d amassed enough to repay Judah three times over. Rescuing kidnapped expatriates proved an extravagantly lucrative sideline to being a sailor. In his wanderings, he’d barely spent one-tenth of his fortune. No, money didn’t pose a problem. The second part of the agreement did.

He shouldn’t have agreed to the marriage stipulation, but Judah wouldn’t return the land to a bachelor. At the time marrying hadn’t entered Eban’s mind. Without Nora, he had no desire to leave a legacy anyway. And after sampling women of many races, Eban accepted he’d never marry. Then the stars changed his mind.

He glanced at them now. They shimmered as they had the night of that fateful watch. According to the first mate who swore by astrology, he’d perceived a special celestial alignment for Eban. The stars foretold a coupling resulting from a rescue in which Eban would meet his wife. Having found Mary, Eban knew that prophecy would be fulfilled.

Buylink: https://amzn.to/2u5XQYY

Michal Scott: Hiding in Plain Sight: Belle da Costa Greene (Contest)
Monday, August 22nd, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…miki!
*~*~*

The last line of “The Star-Spangled Banner” has always struck me as the greatest irony of the entire song. “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” So many people in this country have that flag waving over them yet they are not free to be their authentic selves because of the -isms running rampant throughout US history. Jews who chose to change their names, gays who chose to remain in the closet, people of color who chose to pass for white. These subterfuges many times were taken not because of shame for their identity but because of lack of opportunity and/or safety. Such is the story of Belle da Costa Greene.

Belle was born Belle Marian Greener in Washington D.C. to an African American family, which numbered among the Black elite of the late 1800s. Her father, Richard T. Greener, was the first African American to graduate from Harvard. Although light enough to pass for white, he never did. Despite the horrific dismantling of Reconstruction and its immediate impact on their family’s situation in South Carolina, Greener lived his life as a vocal advocate for equal rights for his race. His wife however came to a different conclusion: passing for white would enable her family to have the opportunities and safety they deserved. They moved to New York and lived as whites. This choice however led to her parents’ separation.

Belle’s father’s love of illustrated manuscripts instilled a love for the written word in her. She trained as a librarian and was working at Princeton University’s library where she caught the eye of Junius Morgan, J.P. Morgan’s nephew. This led to the opportunity of a lifetime, and in 1905, she became the librarian/curator for J.P. Morgan’s library. She helped him amass a collection that became world famous and envied by museums around the world. Quite an accomplishment in the days before suffrage was achieved and career women were looked at with suspicion.

She retired from the Morgan Library in 1948, one year before her death. By then, she had enabled Morgan’s dream to come true: to make his library available as a resource to the public. I was glad once again to learn of another heroic Black woman, both from The Personal Librarian, a fictionalized account of her life and the biography, An Illuminated Life: Belle Da Costa Greene’s Journey from Prejudice to Privilege. However, I felt sad society wouldn’t have allowed her to accomplish all she had if she’d claimed her true heritage. I was also moved by the emotional costs Belle paid for choosing to live while hiding in plain sight. Her choice showed a woman could still be brave even if the land in which she lived wouldn’t let her be free.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share the name of someone you admire who may have had to change their name or hide some part of who they were to succeed.

One Breath Away

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt from One Breath Away

In 1872 Texas who took note of a black woman who ain’t been asked to wed?

Yet Eban’s perusal said not only did he take note, but he liked what he saw.

“Ooo, Mother Hawthorne,” Felicity Parker teased. The sandy-haired, light-skinned beauty smiled as only a twenty-something-no-longer-a- virgin woman like her could. “Your nephew’s a- lookin’ Mountain’s way.” She eyed Mary from head to toe. “Does he like his berries big, black, and buxom?”

“Could be. Ya know what they say…” Widow Clemma Hawthorne’s smile grew into a grin. She sat on Mary’s right and whispered to Felicity on Mary’s left. “The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice.”

The mischief rife in Clemma’s tone shone in her gaze as she waggled her eyebrows at Mary.

Felicity looked Eban up and down with approval.

“If he likes ’em dark, I’ll be glad to blacken up for him. Lord knows I’s tired of beddin’ po’ boys. Whoo chile…” She fanned herself and grinned. “I was in line behind him when he made his deposit at the Savin’ and Loan. His gold rushed across that counter like freedmen hurryin’ to claim their forty acres and a mule.” She turned and nudged Mary. “You juicy enough for that rich he-man, Blackberry?”

Get your copy of One Breath Away!

Michal Scott: Nothing New Under the Sun: Callie House and Ex-Slave Reparations (Contest)
Friday, July 22nd, 2022
UPDATE: The winner is…Debra Guyette!
*~*~*
There’s plenty of talk today about how reparations need to be made to African Americans for the harm done by slavery, but you don’t hear much about how long this kind of demand has been going on. In Mary Frances Berry’s book, My Face Is Black Is True, I learned how a thirty-six-year-old washerwoman co-founded one of the first poor people’s campaigns in this country.  

Born enslaved in 1861, Callie married William House in 1883 and supported her children after his death by doing washing. Many former slaves had to support themselves in unjust sharecropping arrangements or doing menial work. Seeing how elderly war veterans received pensions, Callie along with Isaiah H. Dickerson theorized the same could be done for the formerly enslaved. Their idea gained so much support they chartered the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association (NEMRB&PA). Some sources cite they had hundreds of thousands of followers.

In My Face Is Black Is True, Mary Berry quotes federal officials as saying House’s movement “is setting the negroes wild.” They moved quickly and in 1899, the organization was charged by the Post Office with using the mails to defraud slaves. Undeterred, NEMRB&PA got legal representation and pressed on. In 1915, they filed a class action lawsuit to provide former slaves with pensions for their unpaid labor. They claimed $68 million in taxes on seized rebel cotton could be used to provide the compensation. Their suit was denied by both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court.

While NEMRB&PA had strong grassroots support, this was not the case with some of the Black Elite. Mary Berry suggests Callie, being a washerwoman, worked against her receiving the respect that was her due. She found no champions among African American leaders and newspapers when the Post Office had her arrested in 1916 for using money for her own purposes. Despite the prosecution’s inability to show proof of how much money she was supposed to have embezzled, she was convicted to a year in prison. No surprise then that when the government wanted to stop Marcus Garvey’s grassroots movement in 1922, mail fraud was the route they took.

Callie was released in 1918 and continued to support herself as a seamstress and washerwoman until her death ten years later. While the government may have stopped her, ex-slaves continued writing Congress demanding they be granted pensions. Chapters of NEMRB&PA existed until the 1930s.

History doesn’t always give us the HEA’s that romance guarantees. So as heart-rending as Callie’s story is, I don’t get discouraged. It’s just proof of what the late congressman, John Lewis, told us: “Those of us who are committed to the cause of justice need to pace ourselves because the struggle does not last for one day, one week, or one year, but it is a struggle for a lifetime, and each generation must do its part.”

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share what inspires you when you encounter setbacks.

Better to Marry Than to Burn

Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…

A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.

Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.

Excerpt from Better to Marry Than to Burn

She sidled up to him, cupped his erection and fondled his balls.

“Ready for bed or ready to bed me?”

He moaned, placed his hand atop hers and increased the pressure. Already hard, he hadn’t imagined he could get any harder.

“Is that beautiful brass bed new?”

He gulped. “Ye—yes. Bought it—bought it for the honeymoon.”

“I’m ready to be bedded now,” she whispered. “Or is that something we must negotiate?”

All thoughts of dinner vanished.

“No,” he rasped, leaning forward, as hungry for her lips as he was to be inside her.

“Good.” She stepped back, out of reach. “But, let’s be clear…” She bent over, so her butt protruded toward him. She massaged each buttock so her crack parted invitingly. “Tonight it’s the Greek way or no way.”

He blinked, stunned by this demand to be taken anally. His master had had books filled with drawings, depicting naked Greeks wrestling. Those pen and ink depictions flashed before him now. Arms constrained by arms, legs entwined with legs, butts and groins enmeshed in snug contortions. He’d love to take Queen that way, experience first- hand the erotic intimacy etched in the men’s struggle-laden features.

He took one step toward her then stopped. No. One day, he would…but not tonight. Not their first time. Their first time would be the nose-to-nose, chest-to-breast, cock-to-vagina coupling he’d hungered five years for.

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